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Dodgers' stopper Greinke continues mastery of Padres

SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers won the Friday night series opener of their battle for first place with the Padres, Zack Greinke standing out in his familiar role of stopper while rookie Yimi Garcia throwing his cap into the ring for closer with Joel Peralta's status uncertain.

Greinke brought a halt to his club's three-game losing streak with seven scoreless innings, pinpointing his fastball for seven strikeouts and supported in the 3-0 win with RBIs from the bottom of the lineup -- one each from Carl Crawford (his first homer), Juan Uribe (his first RBI) and Joc Pederson.

Video: [email protected]: Garcia seals 3-0 win, earns first MLB saveGreinke is 3-0 this year with a 1.35 ERA. He's 5-0 with a 1.58 ERA in nine career starts against the Padres. And he's 21-1 with a 1.88 ERA in 31 divisional games since joining the Dodgers.

And in games following a Dodgers loss, the team is 23-8 when Greinke starts, although Greinke said that's not his motivation.

"I forgot already about the San Francisco series," he said of the sweep the Dodgers sustained coming into this game.

With the bullpen weary, making it through seven innings was an even more impressive achievement for Greinke considering the bases-loaded, no-out mess he survived in the second inning. He walked Yonder Alonso, then allowed singles to Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks.

Video: [email protected]: Greinke escapes bases-loaded jam in the 2ndHe struck out Alexi Amarista and opposing pitcher Andrew Cashner to bring up leadoff hitter Wil Myers, who lashed a line drive up the middle. But that was where second baseman Howie Kendrick had been shifted, and he made the shutout-saving catch to end the inning. Greinke actually jumped off the mound for joy, having forgotten the shift was on.

"My mind wasn't thinking correctly," he said. "I forgot the shift. On [Matt] Kemp [a first-inning single off Greinke's glove], I should have let the ball go. With Myers, it was confusing. They were shifting with nobody on, and with guys on base they maybe shifted and maybe not."

Kendrick downplayed the defensive gem, saying that's exactly where he was playing Myers during the season-opening series in Los Angeles. He said he welcomes the analytics-generated defensive alignments, especially against unfamiliar National League teams.

"I haven't played against a lot of them, so we rely on the numbers more," the former Angel said. "So far the system's been great. If they want me to play there, that's where I'll play."

Video: [email protected]: Rodriguez induces a groundout to strand twoBeginning with the Amarista at-bat, Greinke retired seven consecutive batters, five on strikeouts. He popped up Cashner with two on to end the fourth inning, then retired the next seven hitters. Paco Rodriguez inherited two baserunners from Pedro Baez in the eighth and got Alonso on a bouncer, turning the game over to Garcia, who pitched a perfect ninth inning for his first Major League save.

Manager Don Mattingly -- who waffled when asked whether the 39-year-old Peralta was available -- said he won't "anoint" Garcia the stand-in closer with Kenley Jansen out, although he'll be hard-pressed to find a better option. Garcia struck out two more, giving him 16 in 9 2/3 innings and a 0.93 ERA.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for Keep track of the Dodgers @kengurnick on Twitter.
Read More: Los Angeles Dodgers, Zack Greinke