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Gwynn's catch preserves Dodgers' win

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Ted Lilly throws to the plate
Ted Lilly was sharp for the Dodgers, giving up just one run and five hits in six innings.
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LOS ANGELES (AP)

The save that was credited to Los Angeles Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton should have been awarded instead to Tony Gwynn Jr.

It was Gwynn's diving catch on a live drive to left field by Nick Hundley with two outs in the ninth inning and runners at the corners that preserved a 3-2 victory for Ted Lilly on Friday night — and left Gwynn's former San Diego Padres teammates shaking their heads.

''I got a good jump. My instincts led me from that point on,'' Gwynn said.

Vicente Padilla pitched a hitless eighth with two walks, and Broxton retired the first two batters in the ninth before giving up consecutive singles by Will Venable, former Dodger Orlando Hudson and Chase Headley. Hudson's hit drove in Venable, who went to second on defensive indifference. Hundley tried to keep the rally going, but the speedy Gwynn was able to backhand the ball and secure Broxton's sixth save in seven chances.

''Right before that happened, I said, `Nothing drops,' and he made a great diving catch,'' Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp said. ''When Tony gets in the game, he makes things happen. He can steal a base, he can get some hits and he can play great defense. So we're going to need him just as much as anybody else on this team. We're counting on a lot of guys to step up and do big things.''

Gwynn, who didn't make an error in 117 games last year, spent two seasons with the Padres after being acquired from Milwaukee. The Dodgers signed him as a free agent in December.

''I knew he was in left after the double-switch,'' Hundley said. ''He's a great outfielder. I've seen him do it for 2 1/2 years now, so it's definitely not surprising, but disappointing nonetheless.''

Andre Ethier extended his major league record for the longest April hitting streak to 25 games. Juan Uribe and Kemp homered for the Dodgers in their first home game since Commissioner Bud Selig hired former Texas Rangers president Tom Schieffer on Monday to monitor the day-to-day operations of the team.

The move capped a tumultuous week that began with Major League Baseball taking control of the 122-year-old franchise from embattled owner Frank McCourt.

Ethier doubled with two outs in the fifth against Clayton Richard, a left-hander he had only one hit against in 15 career at-bats to that point. Ethier's first time up he drove in a run with a groundout, and he hit another grounder in the third.

''The first two at-bats he was pounding me in hard, and I was still looking for something out over the plate to hit,'' Ethier said. ''He threw me a sinking fastball down and in, and I just happened to pull my hands in enough, put a good swing on it and put it out there with a little topspin over (first baseman Jorge) Cantu's head and luckily got a hit out of it.''

The hitting streak tied Paul Lo Duca and Steve Sax for the longest by a Dodgers player since Willie Davis' franchise-record 31-game stretch in 1969. Davis also had a 25-game streak in 1971.

''If I go out there and execute, I'll gladly take a groundball to an infielder in exchange for an RBI anytime,'' Ethier said. ''I mean, I'm disappointed if I don't get a hit, but it's fun to keep it going once I get the hit.''

Ethier had a full beard when the team returned from a six-game road trip, but was clean-shaven when he got to Chavez Ravine. So much for superstitions.

''I have my kids at home — and when I'm home, I always want to rub my face against theirs. So I don't care if the streak's going or not. I'm still going to shave my beard,'' Ethier said with a grin.

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Lilly (2-2) allowed a run and five hits over six innings before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter with a 2-1 lead and runners at second and third. The left-hander, whose run support since the start of last season is the lowest in the majors, struck out four and walked one while improving to 7-3 against the Padres.

Russell Mitchell batted for Lilly and drew a walk that loaded the bases. That was all for Richard, who was relieved by Ernesto Frieri. The right-hander escaped the jam by retiring Jamey Carroll on a grounder, but Kemp led off the seventh with his sixth homer to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.

Richard (1-2) allowed two runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings as the Padres lost for the seventh time in eight games.

Uribe hit his third homer in the fourth to snap a 1-all tie. He started at third base in place of Casey Blake, put on the 15-day disabled list Friday because of a mysterious staph infection in his left elbow.

Blake, who hasn't played since Sunday because of a groin pull, underwent surgery Thursday to have the affected area drained, and is expected to be released from the hospital Saturday. He is expected to be sidelined at least six weeks.

NOTES: McCourt was spotted in the outfield pavilion seats mingling with fans during the game. ... Padres LHP Joe Thatcher, who hasn't pitched this season because of an injured left shoulder, is scheduled to undergo exploratory surgery Monday at Scripps Clinic in San Diego. ... Ethier is batting .396 during his hitting streak with 16 RBIs and three homers, including a game-deciding solo shot in the 10th inning on Wednesday at Florida. ... Plate umpire Brian Knight was shaken up briefly in the sixth when Uribe lost control of his bat while popping out to second base. The bat struck Knight in the head, but he stayed in the game.

Tagged: Padres, Casey Blake, Ted Lilly, Juan Uribe, Andre Ethier, Tony Gwynn Jr., Nick Hundley, Clayton Richard, Dodgers, Jonathan Broxton, Matt Kemp, Will Venable

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