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Dreifort’s Slump Continues

TIMES STAFF WRITER

At least Darren Dreifort was consistent Thursday.

Whenever the Dodger starter led off an inning with a walk, he promptly surrendered a two-run homer to the next batter.

He did it twice--in the second and sixth innings--and that proved to be the difference in the San Diego Padres’ 5-4 win over the Dodgers in front of 50,171 at Dodger Stadium.

The win enabled the Padres (35-42) to salvage a split of the four-game series with the Dodgers (40-37), whose home record fell to an uninspiring 19-19.

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“Dreif just left too many out over the plate,” Dodger Manager Davey Johnson said. “He’s not 100% right. He dominates at times but he [also] gets behind.

“He’s not in a consistent rhythm. In six innings he’s at 100 pitches. That’s not locating, not getting ahead.”

Still, Dreifort (4-7) said he feels fine physically.

“That’s the name of the game--don’t make mistakes,” he said. “I make no excuses. I just didn’t pitch well tonight.”

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Dreifort, who has won only once in his last eight starts, has never beaten the Padres, the lone National League team he has failed to defeat. With the loss, he also dropped his fourth consecutive decision, giving up five runs and six hits in six innings. He struck out seven and walked three.

San Diego starter Matt Clement (7-7) wasn’t exactly a model of consistency either, as he gave up four runs and walked six batters.

Padre closer Trevor Hoffman pitched a scoreless ninth for his 20th save, second most in the National League.

"[Clement] was erratic with his control but he did the job,” Padre Manager Bruce Bochy said. “We barely hung in there.”

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The Dodger relief corps held the Padres at bay after Dreifort exited.

Left-hander Onan Masaoka pitched a scoreless seventh inning, extending his scoreless streak to nine innings. Matt Herges did not allow a run in the eighth and Antonio Osuna blanked the Padres in the ninth.

But the damage was already done.

The Padres jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second.

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After Dreifort walked Bret Boone to lead off the inning, Wiki Gonzalez drove a 1-and-0 Dreifort fastball into the box seats down the left-field line for the two-run homer, just his second of the season.

The Dodgers answered in the third.

Clement walked leadoff man Todd Hollandsworth, who moved to third on Mark Grudzielanek’s single and scored on Shawn Green’s sacrifice fly to left.

Dreifort helped himself in the fifth, leading off with a broken bat double. The bat scared Padre third baseman Phil Nevin away from the ball just enough to allow Dreifort to scamper into second.

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Dreifort moved to third on a Clement wild pitch and scored on Hollandsworth’s single to right field.

But Dreifort walked Ryan Klesko to start the sixth, and it didn’t take long for Nevin to make the Dodger starter pay.

Nevin muscled a 2-and-2 slider into the right-center pavilion for his 16th homer.

Three batters later, Ruben Rivera crushed a Dreifort fastball to deep left-center for a solo shot, his ninth homer, to give the Padres a 5-2 lead.

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The Dodgers added a pair in the seventh and threatened to take the lead.

Alex Cora, who led off with a triple off the wall in right-center, scored when Padre reliever Carlos Reyes balked. F.P. Santangelo, who walked as a pinch-hitter, came home on Green’s two-out single off lefty reliever Kevin Walker.

The Dodgers loaded the bases, but Todd Hundley fouled out to first baseman Klesko, who was camped at the lip of the visitor’s dugout, to end the threat.

For the Dodgers, the loss came in the wake of the commissioner’s office overturning 12 of 19 Dodger suspensions, including that of the recently-traded Alan Mills, for their respective roles in the Wrigley Field melee May 16.

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And it came as the Dodgers are set to begin a nine-game, 10-day trip that takes them through three cities--San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle--and up to the All-Star break.


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