LOS ANGELES (AP) - Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 26 games, and that was about the only thing that went right for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night.
Will Venable scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by reliever Matt Guerrier with two out in the eighth inning, and the San Diego Padres got two other runs on dropped throws at home plate to beat the Dodgers 5-2.
The sloppy loss spoiled an otherwise solid outing by Hiroki Kuroda, who allowed two runs and five hits overt seven innings and struck out seven.
``It's always disappointing when the team loses, but I still have to go ahead and make the best pitches I can in tough situations,' Kuroda said through a translator. ``Hopefully I'll win next time.'
Ethier stretched his streak with an opposite-field single with one out in the fourth and scored the game's first run on James Loney's bases-loaded sacrifice fly. Ethier's two hits gave him 40 for the month, tying the club record for April shared by Mike Piazza (1996) and Rafael Furcal (2008). Ethier also had a hit in the season opener on March 31.
``Pretty good month,' Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. ``Is the month over yet? He's had a great month, and him and Matt (Kemp) together have been a pretty good tandem in the short season so far. It's kind of what we expect. We know it's there all the time, and hopefully this year we can kind of keep him going throughout the season.'
Ethier made a diving grab of a sinking liner by Padres pitcher Tim Stauffer in right field and nearly cut down a runner at the plate for what would have been an inning-ending double play in the fifth with no one scoring. But Cameron Maybin came barreling into Rod Barajas and jarred the ball loose after the catcher stuck out his left leg to block the runner off.
``We've got to push the envelope - steal bases, take the extra base and score when we can,' second baseman Orlando Hudson said. ``Right now it's been hard for us to push runs across. It's been tough for us, but we've been grinding and there's still a lot of baseball left. Things are going so-so, and we haven't hit that spurt yet. But the pitching has been phenomenal and they've been keeping us in every ballgame.'
Stauffer took a three-hitter and a 2-1 lead into the seventh, and was lifted after giving up a two-out double by Barajas and hitting Jamey Carroll on the left arm with his 99th pitch. Tony Gwynn Jr. pinch-hit for Kuroda and greeted Luke Gregerson (1-1) with a single that drove in pinch-runner Russell Mitchell with the tying run.
The Padres responded with three runs in the eighth to grab a 5-2 lead. Guerrier (2-2) loaded the bases with an intentional walk to Chase Headley before retiring Nick Hundley on a popup. But his second pitch to Hudson was inside and went to the backstop, allowing Venable to come home.
Hudson was then intentionally walked, and Maybin followed with a two-run single. Rookie left fielder Jerry Sands tried to prevent the second run from scoring on the play and made a perfect throw to the plate, but backup catcher Dioner Navarro dropped the ball for an error.
``The ball kind of bounced our way a couple of times, and some of the things that haven't gone our way went our way - like that play on Stauff's sac fly and then Chase coming in and blowing up that play at the plate,' Venable said. ``It's nice when you can create your own fortune. When you have those good at_bats and are able to string some things together. Those are the kind of things we know we can do.'
Mike Adams pitched a scoreless eighth and Heath Bell got three outs for his sixth save in as many chances. Bell extended his streak of consecutive save conversions to 40, the longest current streak in the majors and one shy of Trevor Hoffman's franchise record.
NOTES: The Padres scored three runs in an inning for the first time since getting four in the eighth at Houston on April 17, and they are 10-2 when scoring three or more. ... Joe Torre, Ethier's manager the previous three seasons, had the previous longest hitting streak in April when he hit in 22 straight for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1971.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved