Mark Ellis was the hero for the Los Angeles Dodgers last night in a win over the NL West-rival San Diego Padres.
The Dodgers target an easier time out Saturday night in the continuation of a three-game series with the Padres at Chavez Ravine.
Ellis belted a two-run homer in the bottom of the sixth inning and that was all reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw would need. Kershaw pushed his record to 7-5 and allowed one run in six innings of work. Javy Guerra, Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen each threw a scoreless inning of relief to preserve the lead. Jansen notched his 16th save in the process.
Guerra is expected to take a bereavement leave to be with his ailing father, who suffered a heart attack Friday in Mexico.
"I was a little nervous for Javy. He's got stuff going on at home," LA manager Don Mattingly said on the club's site. "But he was good."
Mattingly saw some familiar faces back in the lineup Friday with the return of outfielders Matt Kemp (hamstring) and Andre Ethier (oblique). Kemp was 2-for-4 and Ethier went hitless in two at-bats for NL West-leading Los Angeles, which ended a three-game slide and won for the fifth time in nine tries.
The Dodgers are just one-half game ahead of San Francisco in the division.
Aaron Harang will handle pitching duties for the Dodgers tonight and hopes to duplicate his latest performance when he fired seven innings of one-run ball in a 4-1 victory over Cincinnati. Harang was able to stop a four-start winless (0-2) slide with the win and is now 6-5 with a 3.51 ERA in 17 starts.
Harang is 1-1 with a 3,57 ERA in three starts against his former Padres team this season, defeating the club with seven shutout innings on May 17, and sports a 4-5 mark with a 4.00 ERA in 13 games (12 starts) in this series.
San Diego was hoping to spoil the return of LA's slugging stars last night, but starter Clayton Richard couldn't keep Ellis in the ballpark. Richard was saddled with the loss and surrendered two runs and five hits in 7 1/3 innings.
"It was one pitch, one big pitch, one big hit," Padres manager Bud Black said of Ellis' home run. "Clayton (Richard) pitched great. I bet he wishes he could get that one breaking ball back though."
Everth Cabrera accounted for the lone run with an RBI groundout for the Padres, who have dropped four straight games since winning six in a row. The Padres are last in the NL West -- 14 games behind Los Angeles. On a positive note, the Friars have posted a winning record after the All-Star break in five of the last eight seasons (2004, 06, 07, 09, 10).
Logan Forsythe had two hits in defeat and entered the game batting .417 over his previous seven games. Chase Headley, who ended his season-best hitting streak at 12 games last Sunday, went 1-for-4.
Edinson Volquez hopes to gain a measure of revenge against the Dodgers when he takes the mound for San Diego tonight. In an 8-1 loss to Los Angeles at Petco Park back on May 17, Volquez was drilled for five runs and eight hits over five innings. The loss dropped him to 1-2 in four career starts against LA.
Volquez, who is 0-2 in three starts against the Dodgers this season, has won three of his last four decisions overall and did not factor in the outcome of a 2-1 win over Cincinnati on July 5 in which he struck out 10 batters and yielded just one run in seven innings.
The right-hander remained at 5-7 in 18 starts and lowered his ERA slightly from 3.68 to 3.52. Volquez also is 3-3 in seven road starts in 2012.
The Dodgers own an 8-2 mark over the Padres so far this season, including a three-game sweep at home from April 13-15. They have taken 18 of the past 22 encounters overall and 10 in a row at home.
Since the beginning of last season, Los Angeles is 11-2 against San Diego at Dodger Stadium.