Two games into their weekend series in Los Angeles, and the San Diego Padres are still looking for a run.
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And they almost took the first two anyway.
Luke Gregerson allowed Juan Uribe’s two-out, two-strike double in the ninth inning for Los Angeles’ first hit of the game, and Dioner Navarro followed with a game-ending single to give the Dodgers their second consecutive 1-0 victory on Saturday.
Aaron Harang started for San Diego and worked six innings, finishing with six strikeouts and three walks while throwing 95 pitches. Josh Spence and Chad Qualls combined to work the seventh and Mike Adams got three outs before Gregerson (2-2) entered the game.
The Padres are without a no-hitter in the team’s 43-year history.
”To tell the truth, I don’t think anyone in the bullpen knew there was a no-hitter going,” Gregerson said. ”The starter was out of the game, so what did it matter at that point? It’s only fun if the starter goes nine innings and throws a no-hitter and your guys score some runs. But a loss is a loss at the end of the day.”
”I made one bad pitch and that was it. It’s as simple as that,” Gregerson added. ”The slider was working really good today and I just left one up and paid for it. I made a good pitch to Navarro and he got it. That’s all that matters.”
Navarro’s hit to short right-center gave the Dodgers three consecutive shutout victories for the first time since July 1991. Los Angeles has won nine of its last 19 games, and seven of those victories have been shutouts – including the last five.
”Everybody wants to get that hit and be the guy,” Navarro said. ”We just kept telling ourselves to be patient and do the best we can. I knew there was a base open and they were going to pitch around me, which they did. But then he threw a fastball in there. I was looking for a pitch up in the strike zone and I put some good wood on it.”
The 33-year-old Harang had missed 26 games because of a bruised right foot, which occurred during his 7-2 victory over Washington on June 9. At the time of his injury, he had a string of five straight starts in which he did not allow more than two runs.
He might have gone longer in this one had he not thrown 37 pitches in the first inning.
”I think if it was a different situation and I got through seven, it’s probably going to be a different,” Harang said. ”I felt great. I felt like I was commanding the ball well and my off-speed stuff was there. But obviously that first inning killed me. Even if I get through that inning in 20 pitches, it puts the aspect of going back out there in a different scenario. That was the difference in me staying out there, I think.”
Spence struck out his only batter, Andre Ethier, before Qualls escaped a jam to keep the game scoreless. Matt Kemp reached on a two-base throwing error by shortstop Jason Bartlett and James Loney was intentionally walked before Qualls retired Uribe on a foul popup and Navarro on a comebacker.
Adams got out of another scrape in the eighth, retiring Tony Gwynn Jr., Rafael Furcal and Ethier after Jamey Carroll drew a leadoff walk and third baseman Chase Headley committed a throwing error on a sacrifice by pinch-hitter Trent Oeltjen.
The Padres got only one hit themselves against rookie right-hander Rubby De La Rosa and three relievers. Blake Hawksworth (2-2) pitched a perfect ninth inning after Matt Guerrier and Mike MacDougal each got three outs.
San Diego has dropped its last four games, scoring only six runs during the slide.
”I’ve seen some crazy things in my nine years in the big leagues,” Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson said, ”but that’s the way the game goes. So what are you going to do? You just keep playing.”
De La Rosa, who had no more than six strikeouts in any of his six previous big league starts, fanned seven of his first 10 batters while matching zeros with Harang through the first six innings.
”That kid’s got a bright future ahead of him,” Hudson said. ”He’s good. He had good stuff. He’s got a great fastball, good command of his changeup and he’s got a good slider.”
Cameron Maybin had the first hit of the game in the fifth, a clean single through the box following Denorfia’s leadoff walk. Both runners advanced on a one-out grounder by Rob Johnson, but De La Rosa escaped the jam by striking out Harang.
NOTES: Furcal singled home the only run in the series opener in the eighth inning. … The Dodgers gave Derek Jeter his due, replaying his 3,000th hit on the videoboard before the game while organist Nancy Bea Hefley played a rousing rendition of ”Yankee Doodle Dandy.” Another member of the 3,000-hit club – Tony Gwynn Sr. – watched it live from a couch in the Dodgers’ clubhouse, just a few feet from his son’s locker. ”The only time I ever said anything to (Jeter) about hitting was when he came up to me during Game 1 of the World Series in New York in ’98,” Gwynn recalled later in the Padres’ dugout. ”I was standing on second base and he said: `Man you need to teach me how to hit.’ And I said: `Yeah, right. You’re kidding me, right? You’re such a good hitter.’ I always thought he was a good hitter, ever since he came up. You just knew that, as consistent as he was, sooner or later he was going to get to this point.” … The Padres optioned RHP Pat Neshek to Triple-A Tucson to open a roster spot for Harang.