Dodgers 4, Padres 1

Andre Ethier knows he’s capable of hitting home runs on a

regular basis. The 74 he hit over the previous three seasons is a

testament to that.

And if the Los Angeles Dodgers hope to salvage something out of

this season, they’re going to need more of them.

Ethier homered twice before heading off to his second straight

All-Star game, giving him just nine for the season, and the Dodgers

beat San Diego 4-1 on Sunday for their season-high fourth straight

victory after being shut out in three straight games.

”I was just getting into some bad habits this year and some bad

approaches, and I let those spiral into some other things,” said

Ethier, who sacrificed power for bat control during his 30-game

hitting streak. ”It’s tough to break those habits when you’re

going out there and just getting hits and knocks. I mean, why would

I change it when that’s going on? But it’s a just commitment –

being mentally committed and wanting to do it that way.”

Ethier made it 3-1 in the fifth inning with a two-out homer to

right-center – ending a drought of 61 at-bats since his previous

one on June 21. The home run snapped a 10-game drought for the

Dodgers since June 28, when Aaron Miles ended a personal dry spell

of 568 consecutive plate appearances without one.

Ethier capped off his 11th career multihomer game with another

solo shot into the pavilion seats in right-center against Josh

Spence in the eighth, his ninth of the season and first off a


”I’m just glad to get a hit off a lefty. I don’t care if it’s

going over the fence or not,” Ethier said.

Ted Lilly (6-9) won for the first time in a month after losing

his previous four starts. The 35-year-old left-hander allowed a run

and four hits over five innings, helping send the Padres to their

fifth straight loss. Lilly struck out seven and walked two en route

to his first victory since June 11 at Colorado.

”Disappointed is not enough to describe how I feel about my own

performance so far,” Lilly said. ” Going into the second half,

I’m going to take these next few days to evaluate what I need to do

to turn things around and help us make a big comeback.”

Rookie right-hander Javy Guerra, the sixth Dodgers pitcher,

worked a perfect ninth for his fourth save. Guerra has emerged as

the Dodgers’ closer because of season-ending injuries to Jonathan

Broxton and Vicente Padilla.

Guerra, who escaped his own bases-loaded, no-out jam to preserve

a 1-0 victory for Chad Billingsley in the series opener on Friday,

made it interesting again when he gave up a leadoff single to

Orlando Hudson and a walk to Anthony Rizzo before retiring the last

three batters.

”There’s a lot of pressure in those situations, and you like to

see how young guys handle it,” Lilly said. ”He keeps attacking

the strike zone and he keeps his composure quite well. So I’ve

enjoyed watching him pitch out of those jams.”

Tim Stauffer (5-6) was charged with three runs – two earned –

and just three hits in six innings while keeping his ERA at 2.97.

The right-hander, who won his previous three starts, is the fourth

Padres starter since 2000 to go into the All-Star break with an ERA

under 3.00 – joining Chris Young (2.00 in 2007), Jake Peavy (2.43

in 2004) and Mat Latos (2.45 in 2010).

The Padres opened the scoring when Rob Johnson homered on

Lilly’s first pitch of the third inning. The Dodgers came back with

two runs in the bottom half, after Stauffer walked the first three


Stauffer went 3-2 on cleanup hitter Matt Kemp, who was robbed of

a hit by third baseman Chase Headley on a diving stop going toward

the foul line. But Headley, not knowing how far Rafael Furcal was

from the bag, ignored the easy force at third and made a wild throw

to the plate that allowed Tony Gwynn Jr. and Furcal to score. Kemp

was credited with a fielder’s choice and RBI.

”I was just trying to make a play,” Headley said. ”I mean,

you’ve got three really good baserunners – and four if you include

Kemp. I went toward the line for it and I didn’t know if I had time

to get back to third. I just wish I could have made a better throw.

But I don’t question what I tried to do. I thought I had a chance

to throw him out there.”

The Dodgers, who were no-hit through 8 2-3 innings by Aaron

Harang and the Padres’ bullpen on Saturday, got an infield single

from Gwynn leading off the first against Stauffer. A sacrifice bunt

and a comebacker got Gwynn to third, but when he tried to score on

a pitch in the dirt that bounced about 30 feet to the right of the

plate, Johnson threw to Stauffer for the tag.

The Dodgers, who began the day 11 games behind San Francisco in

the NL West, go into the All-Star break 41-51. A year ago at this

time they were tied for second with a 49-39 record and two games

out of first, after back-to-back NL West Division titles.

The Padres entered the break last in the NL West with a 40-52

record. Last season at the break, they were 51-37 with a two-game

lead in the division. But they folded down the stretch.

”Every year is different, and you never know how it’s going to

play out,” manager Bud Black said.

NOTES: Padres SS Jason Bartlett was scratched from Black’s

original lineup because of a sore right thumb. … The Dodgers

swept a three-game series at home for the first time since June

2010 against St. Louis. … In 59 starts since making the All-Star

team with the Cubs in 2009, Lilly is 21-26 with a 3.81 ERA and 56

home runs allowed. He has not walked more than two batters in any

of his 31 starts since the Dodgers acquired him from Chicago on

July 31, 2010, the longest active streak in the majors.