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Luebke gives lift heading to Giants series

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SAN DIEGO (AP)

Rookie Cory Luebke sent the San Diego Padres into a key series against San Francisco on a positive note.

Luebke struck out seven in six sparkling innings and San Diego added to its lead in the NL West with a 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.

''Today there was a little bit better calmness about him,'' Padres manager Bud Black said.

San Diego has won three consecutive games since losing 10 in a row and is two ahead of San Francisco after the Giants lost 3-1 at Arizona. The Padres will host the Giants in an important four-game series beginning Thursday.

''We are in a position right now where in the month of September every game is going to be tough, especially with the team that's right behind you right now,'' second baseman David Eckstein said. ''But we have to play our game and stay within ourselves.''

Luebke (1-1) gave San Diego a big lift in his second major league start, holding the Dodgers to two hits. It was a much better showing than his big league debut, when he surrendered a pair of two-run homers over five innings in a 4-3 loss against Colorado.

''I think the last time, I wasn't too nervous, but I think I let the adrenaline get to me a little bit,'' he said. ''It's only two starts, but I did feel better tonight.''

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Four relievers combined to finish the three-hitter. Luke Gregerson got five outs for his second save in seven opportunities.

Matt Kemp doubled in the second, Rafael Furcal reached on an infield single in the third and James Loney singled in the eighth for the Dodgers' hits. It was San Diego's 17th shutout, tied for second in the majors with Philadelphia and trailing the New York Mets by one.

''He showed a lot of composure,'' Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said of Luebke. ''I thought he threw a lot of strikes, which is not easy to do this time of the year.''

Chad Billingsley (11-9) allowed four runs and six hits in 5-1/3 innings for Los Angeles, dropping to 10-6 with a 2.68 ERA in 22 career games against the Padres.

The right-hander had not allowed a run in 13-1/3 innings over two previous starts at Petco Park this year, both Los Angeles' shutout wins.

But Billingsley was not as sharp in this one, tying his season high with five walks and constantly having to work out of trouble.

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He twice retired Yorvit Torrealba with the bases loaded and two outs. But San Diego increased its 1-0 lead in the sixth inning.

Will Venable led off with a bloop single that just made the outfield grass. Everth Cabrera got aboard with a bunt hit. Eckstein came in as a pinch hitter and sacrificed but catcher Rod Barajas tried unsuccessfully to force Venable at third.

Luis Durango followed with a two-run single and, one out later, Adrian Gonzalez added a sacrifice fly.

Gonzalez also singled in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, tying his season high.

The Padres scored a run in the third when Durango singled, stole second and came home on Miguel Tejada's two-out single.

Los Angeles (69-71) has lost five straight and seven of eight to drop two games below .500 for first time since May 10.

NOTES: Torre used five consecutive pinch hitters in the eighth inning, including 33-year-old John Lindsey, who was recalled for Andre Ethier before he had a chance to hit. Lindsey had not appeared in a game since he was called up to the majors on Monday for the first time after spending 15 years in the minors. ''I just gave him the lineup card,'' Torre said. ''I told him that he didn't get an at-bat, but he was in the game.'' ... Billingsley had his streak of allowing three or fewer earned runs in nine straight starts stopped. ... Padres RHP Tim Stauffer, who made an emergency start Monday in place of a sick Mat Latos, will get another start on Saturday against San Francisco. ... Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw will be pushed back in the rotation from Sunday until Tuesday at San Francisco. Torre said Kershaw, 22, will make the rest of his starts without any restrictions on innings. Kershaw already has pitched a career-high 183-1/3 innings.

Tagged: Dodgers, Padres, Tim Stauffer, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Will Venable, Cory Luebke

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