Los Angeles, CA – On a night when the Dodgers got their big guns back into the lineup, it was another rather unexpected Dodger who played the role of hero on Friday.
Prior to the game, Los Angeles activated Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier from the 15-day disabled list, but it was Mark Ellis' sixth inning home run that pushed the Dodgers to a 2-1 victory over the San Diego Padres in the opener of a three-game series at Chavez Ravine.
"I saw the ball good," Ellis said. "He kept it up a little and I was able to hit it down the line."
Kemp notched two hits in his return after missing 51 of the Dodgers' previous 53 games due to a lingering hamstring injury. Ethier had been on the shelf since June 28 due to a left oblique strain and went 0-for-2 in the victory for Los Angeles, which snapped a three-game skid.
Clayton Kershaw (7-5) allowed one run on six hits and three walks with six strikeouts over six solid innings to collect the win. Javy Guerra and Ronald Belisario contributed scoreless relief innings before Kenley Jansen slammed the door in the ninth to earn his 16th save of the season.
Clayton Richard (6-10) pitched well in defeat, allowing two runs on five hits with no walks over 7 1/3 innings. Everth Cabrera accounted for the lone run with an RBI groundout for the Padres, who have dropped four straight games.
With the Dodgers trailing, 1-0 after 5 1/2 frames, Jerry Hairston Jr. was able to reach first base on a fielder's choice with one down. Ellis followed and hooked a 1-2 slider from Richard down the left field line and just inside the foul pole to give Los Angeles the lead for good.
"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."
The Los Angeles bullpen shut down the struggling San Diego offense the rest of the way to seal the win and maintain its slim half-game lead atop the National League West.
Earlier, San Diego struck first in the second inning. Yasmani Grandal doubled to start the frame and Yonder Alonso followed with a walk. Grandal advanced to third on a groundout by Cameron Maybin and scored on another groundout by Cabrera to put the Padres in front.
Los Angeles improved to 19-14 in one-run games this season...The Dodgers went 24-27 in the games that Kemp missed...To make room for Ethier and Kemp, Los Angeles optioned outfielders Elian Herrera and Scott Van Slyke to Triple-A Albuquerque...San Diego finished 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and stranded 10 men on base.