Chase Headley #7 of the San Diego Padres knocks the ball away from Rod Barajas #28 of the Los Angeles Dodgers in front outfield home plate umpire Bob Davidson to score a run for a 5-2 lead during the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium on April 30, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
The way the San Diego Padres have been scoring runs lately — few and far between — they aren't going to be too picky about how they get them.
Will Venable scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by reliever Matt Guerrier with two outs in the eighth inning, and two other runs came across on dropped throws at home plate, helping the Padres beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-2 Saturday night.
"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."
Andre Ethier had two singles for the Dodgers to extend his hitting streak to 26 games, a record for the month of April. It's the longest by a Dodgers player since Willie Davis' franchise-record 31-game stretch in 1969.
"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."
Padres starter Tim Stauffer took a three-hitter and a 2-1 lead into the seventh. He was lifted after giving up a two-out double by Rod Barajas and hitting Jamey Carroll with a pitch. Tony Gwynn Jr. pinch-hit for Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda and greeted Luke Gregerson (1-1) with a tying single.
The Padres responded with three runs in the eighth. They loaded the bases with one out against Guerrier (2-2) on a pair of singles, a sacrifice and an intentional walk to Chase Headley. Nick Hundley popped up, but Guerrier's second pitch to Orlando Hudson was inside and went to the backstop, allowing Venable to come home.
Hudson was then intentionally walked, and Cameron 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, allowing Headley to score.
Heath Bell got three outs for his sixth save. He has converted 40 straight chances, one shy of Trevor Hoffman's franchise record.
Ethier extended his string on 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 made a diving grab of a sinking liner by 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 Maybin jarred the ball loose from Barajas after the catcher stuck out his left leg block the runner off.
"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."
Venable followed Stauffer's sacrifice fly with a single, Jason Bartlett walked and Ryan Ludwick drove in the go-ahead run with an opposite-field single to right. Ethier threw out Bartlett as he tried to advance two bases on the hit.
Kuroda allowed two runs and five hits in 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."
San Diego first baseman Brad Hawpe, who came in 7 for 16 lifetime against Kuroda and with an overall .351 lifetime against the Dodgers, was 1 for 4. He has a .149 average with no homers and just two RBIs in 67 at-bats with the Padres after signing a one-year, $3 million contract in January as a free agent.
NOTES: 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. ... The Padres scored three runs in an inning for the first time since getting four in the eighth at Houston on April 17. They are 10-2 when scoring three or more.