SAN DIEGO (AP) - If this was Aaron Harang's swan song with the San Diego Padres, he went out with his best.
Harang threw eight sharp innings and put a dent in Matt Kemp's pursuit of the NL Triple Crown in San Diego's 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night.
In his final start of the season, Harang (14-7) had his best outing in what has been a comeback year for the former NL strikeout king. Harang retired 21 of his final 22 batters and allowed just one runner to reach second base. He struck out five and walked none in possibly his final game with the Padres.
The San Diego native signed a one-year contract in the offseason and has a $5 million mutual option with the club for the 2012 season.
``I've had so much fun with the guys on this team,' said Harang, who has always made San Diego his offseason home. ``It has been a pleasure to pitch here. I hope things work out so I can be back here next year.'
Harang, who led the NL in wins and strikeouts in 2006, was coming off three subpar years in Cincinnati where he went 18-38.
``It's been amazing,' he said. ``I couldn't be happier with the way things have gone. Just to be able to come home and pitch and have that comfort level of being able to be in front of family and friends in my hometown, it's been great.'
Harang combined with closer Heath Bell on a four-hit shutout, the Padres' ninth of the season.
The right-hander also limited Kemp to just one hit in three at_bats.
Kemp leads the NL with 119 RBIs and is tied for lead with 37 homers. But he went 1 for 4 to drop his batting average to .325, falling six points behind league leader Ryan Braun of Milwaukee at .331. New York's Jose Reyes is second at .330.
With just four games remaining, Kemp is trying to become the majors' first player to achieve the Triple Crown since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967, and the first in the National League since Ducky Medwick of St. Louis in 1937.
Kemp also is trying to become the fifth player in major league history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season.
Kemp singled in the first inning, then went hitless in his final three at_bats, including bouncing into a game-ending double play against Bell.
Bell pitched the ninth for his 42nd save in 47 chances.
Padres manager Bud Black struggled with the decision about whether to allow Harang to complete the shutout.
``I really battled with this,' Black said. ``A hometown guy, finishing his season with a complete-game, three-hit shutout looking him right in the face. There was a part of me, being in those shoes, that knows how it feels. That was really one of the toughest calls of the year for me.'
Harang smiled when asked about the discussion in the dugout between him and Black.
``We talked about it the whole inning we were hitting,' Harang said. ``We were going back and forth. He understood I wanted to go back out.'
Los Angeles rookies Jerry Sands and Dee Gordon extended their career-high hitting streaks to 12 and 11 games, respectively.
Rookie shortstop Andy Parrino made two consecutive stellar defensive plays behind Harang in the seventh inning, robbing the Dodgers of hits.
Chad Billingsley (11-11) allowed three runs and four hits in six innings for Los Angeles. The right-hander struck out four and walked three.
Will Venable put the Padres ahead with a two-out RBI single in the fifth inning. Orlando Hudson followed with another run-scoring single and San Diego also scored on catcher Tim Federowicz's error on an errant throw.
NOTES: The Padres raised their record against Los Angeles to 5-12. ... Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw (20-5, 2.27 ERA) will make his final start of the season Sunday. LHP Corey Luebke (6-9, 3.23) will start for San Diego in the series finale.
The Associated Press News Service
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