Puig's power boosts Greinke in San Diego
Outfielder's first homer backs righty; depleted 'pen walks tightrope
SAN DIEGO -- Two-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw is out for a month or more, and reliever Brian Wilson joined him on the sidelines Tuesday night.
The first day of April ended with a nail-biting 3-2 win over the Padres at Petco Park, which temporarily blunted the double dose of bad news the Dodgers received about two of their key pitchers.
There were no bean balls from Zack Greinke or Ian Kennedy, the only retaliation for their fracas last year was Yasiel Puig's two-run homer off Kennedy, who hit him in the nose last June to start that rumble.
Actually, the win over the Padres had only the kind of baseball drama that develops when a setup man like Wilson lands on the disabled list with elbow nerve irritation after confirmation that Kershaw will miss a month or more with his back muscle injury.
The win required a step-up effort from a bullpen that had to pick up four innings after Greinke left, the game ending when closer Kenley Jansen struck out Nick Hundley with the bases loaded.
"I wasn't sharp at all today," said Jansen. "I just had to keep my focus and not give up."
The Dodgers escaped jams in two different innings when left-handed relievers Paco Rodriguez and J.P. Howell got San Diego slugger Chase Headley to ground into double plays. Howell was so excited when second baseman Dee Gordon stepped on the bag and threw to first that he nearly turned an exuberant fist pump into a somersault.
"Glad I got out of that one," Howell said. "Thank you coaches for a good scouting report. We felt the pain of the other one the other day [Sunday]. I was just happy to keep the game right there."
In between the double plays in the sixth and eighth innings, Chris Withrow celebrated his 25th birthday with a scoreless seventh.
"We've just got to pick up the weight for as long as Brian is out," said Withrow. "Fortunately, we've got guys capable of stepping in. You never want to lose a guy like Wilson. With him going down, it affects all of us, and we've just got to do our jobs."
The Dodgers have played only four games, but their bullpen hasn't exactly lived up to the preseason chatter. It nearly gave away a seven-run lead in Australia, Wilson blew a one-run lead Sunday night, and this one nearly got away as well. Now Wilson is out indefinitely.
"You can't make excuses," said manager Don Mattingly. "You've got to get the job done. We've had one bad inning, really. We're a little rough right now, but I'm confident in our guys."
The Dodgers got only five innings out of Greinke, and the outing wasn't a work of art, but this was his first real game after suffering a slight strain of the right calf in his first spring start on Feb. 27. He missed the team's trip to Australia and hasn't built up to the 100-pitch endurance level he normally has entering a season.
"I wasn't as crisp as I need to be," said Greinke, 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA in six career starts against the Padres. "My location, like on the four-pitch walk to Jedd Gyorko [leading off the fifth inning], most were not even close to the strike zone. The home run to Seth Smith, I got behind in the count. And when you don't make quality pitches, they're going to do that."
The home run by Smith, who went deep off Wilson on Sunday night to tie the game in the eighth, was San Diego's first hit of the game after Greinke had retired the first 10 batters.
"Nine up, nine down, and then we put it to him a bit and got his pitch count up and had some baserunners," Padres manager Bud Black said of Greinke. "But he knows how to wiggle out of jams. But our guys did a pretty good job to stress him."
Puig also had a single and Juan Uribe had his second three-hit game of the season.