Stults a two-way threat in win over Dodgers
Left-hander belts first career homer, delivers quality start
LOS ANGELES -- Eric Stults nearly did it all for the Padres on Jackie Robinson Day, but he needed some help from the Dodgers' bullpen.
Stults tossed six solid innings against his former club and belted his first career home run, and the Padres benefited from a bases-loaded walk to beat the Dodgers, 6-3, on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
San Diego received hits from nine different players, three scoreless innings from three separate relievers and some timely defense.
"All in all, a good team win," said Padres manager Bud Black. "A lot of contributors along the way, by all our guys."
The Padres broke a 3-3 tie with a two-run seventh inning. Cameron Maybin and Jesus Guzman singled to start the rally before a pair of Dodgers relievers issued consecutive walks to score Maybin. San Diego added an insurance run on a double-play grounder.
The walks did not come easy, though. Everth Cabrera fell behind 0-2 to Ronald Belisario, unable to lay down a bunt. But the shortstop reached to load the bases for Chris Denorfia, who also rebounded from an 0-2 count against left-hander Paco Rodriguez.
"You're almost like a rat in the corner, you really have to battle," said Denorfia, who pinch-hit for Will Venable to avoid a lefty-on-lefty matchup. "It's not ideal. Coming off the bench, you don't want to get to that point right away. When you do, you just have to buckle down and get the job done."
Denorfia did his job, but the Padres wouldn't have been in position to end their five-game losing streak without Stults.
The left-hander escaped a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, striking out Andre Ethier to end the threat, then hit a three-run shot to left-center in the second to give the Padres a 3-0 advantage. With one out, Alexi Amarista reached with a walk and Maybin singled one out later to set the stage for Stults' first homer in 81 big league at-bats.
"I guess my power zone is opposite field," said Stults, who recalled his last homer coming in the Minor Leagues. "I don't pull too many balls. I was trying to just put a good swing on the ball."
Stults found himself in trouble throughout the evening, giving up nine hits. The southpaw allowed the leadoff man to reach in four of the first five innings, resulting in three runs. His only clean innings came in the second and sixth.
But Stults did well to limit the Dodgers' scoring chances. He stranded two runners in the third after former Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez scorched an RBI double to cut the San Diego lead to 3-1. Following RBI singles in the fourth and fifth, Stults induced flyouts to escape further damage.
"He made some pitches when he needed to, to get out of a few jams," Black said. "And obviously the big swing got us off to the right start."
After the pitcher homered, Black said the dugout chatter centered around Stults' power display during batting practice Monday afternoon.
"He carried it over from batting practice into the game, you don't see that often," Black said. "But he can swing the bat, he really can."
Padres reliever Luke Gregerson got out of a jam in the eighth with both his arm and glove to help preserve the win for Stults. With one out and two runners in scoring position, the right-hander fielded a weak dribbler by Skip Schumaker and fired to first baseman Yonder Alonso, who then threw out A.J. Ellis at home to complete the double play.
"That was critical for us," Black said.
While the Padres' bullpen was a source of strength on Monday, the Dodgers' 'pen was quite the opposite. After Los Angeles tied the game in the fifth, five relievers issued six walks over the final 16 plate appearances as the Padres scored three runs on just two hits.
"A little," manager Don Mattingly said when asked if he was concerned about the bullpen. "We walked five in an inning in a game in San Diego. We come back, [tie the game] and get to the guys in the bullpen we feel are our strength. Then a walk leads off."
Facing the Padres for the second time in less than a week, Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley allowed seven hits over six innings with three strikeouts against two walks. His only mistake came on a 2-2 pitch to Stults that left the yard.
"I think everybody was excited, we needed a little bit of a boost," Stults said of the reaction he got upon returning to the dugout after circling the bases. "Hopefully that gives us a boost and turns our season around."
In the first meeting between the National League West rivals since Thursday's benches-clearing brawl, there was no carryover from the incident by either team. With Jackie Robinson's wife, Rachel, daughter, Sharon, and son, David, in attendance on the 66th anniversary of Robinson's integration of the Major Leageus, Monday was simply about baseball.
"I think we put this behind us, I really do," Black said of the brawl that resulted in an eight-game suspension for Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin and a broken left collarbone for Dodgers starter Zack Greinke. "A solid baseball game was played by both sides."