LOS ANGELES -- Vicente Padilla was mixing his pitches and speeds, blissfully unaware he had a no-hitter going through five innings.
It didn't last, but Padilla's form sure held up.He threw eight innings of two-hit ball and James Loney hit a three-run homer off Carlos Silva before the Cubs pitcher was ejected in the second inning, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 7-0 victory over Chicago on Sunday night in baseball's last game before the All-Star break.
Before And After
Since coming off the disabled list in mid-June, Vicente Padilla has looked like a completely different pitcher. Here's how his numbers compare:
IP per start
"We never really got anything going," Xavier Nady said. "He was pounding the strike zone and he had good stuff."The Dodgers took three of four from the Cubs and are tied with Colorado for second in the NL West, two games back of surprising San Diego."We're better than that," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "Ten over is satisfactory because we had to deal with a lot of injuries."The sluggish Cubs finished the first half 9 1/2 games behind NL Central-leading Cincinnati."We've got to try to put a streak together early. We can't waste any time," All-Star Marlon Byrd said. "We've wasted enough time. It's time to put it in gear and find out if this team has a switch or not."Padilla (4-2) struck out six and walked one in his longest outing of the season, improving to 3-0 with a 1.25 ERA in his last three starts. The right-hander artfully mixed 55-mph curveballs with fastballs clocked at 95 mph to baffle the Cubs lineup."Guys don't seem to be able to put the fat part of the bat on it and you get quick outs," catcher Russell Martin said of Padilla's slow pitch. "I don't know how he throws it for strikes."Starlin Castro doubled leading off the sixth for Chicago's first hit and Ryan Theriot led off the seventh with another double. Theriot also doubled in the ninth against All-Star fill-in Hong-Chih Kuo.Padilla retired three straight after Castro's hit and escaped another jam after Theriot's first double. He hit Byrd with a pitch but Aramis Ramirez popped out, Nady flied out to left and Alfonso Soriano hit a fly ball to right to end the seventh."When a guy's throwing a two-hit shutout, has been pinpoint all day long, and then you get hit with a four-seamer, you have to question it sometimes," said Byrd, who played with Padilla in Texas and Philadelphia. "That's why I looked at him and smiled. Whether he did it or not, you've got to ask him."Padilla denied anything deliberate.Loney connected in the first, giving Padilla an early cushion. He hit Silva's first pitch into the right-field pavilion for his sixth homer.Rafael Furcal hit a leadoff double and Matt Kemp walked to set up Loney's drive.The Dodgers added three more runs in the second. Kemp hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, Loney had an RBI single and Mitch Atkins walked Xavier Paul to force in the third run."This game and the last I had a great lead and I really thank my teammates for that," Padilla said in Spanish through a translator. "My fastball had a good location and that was what was mainly working."Silva didn't last long. He was ejected by umpire Brian Runge for arguing a close play at first base in the second inning.Loney hit a grounder down the first-base line and Nady smothered the ball, then tried to beat Loney to the bag. A replay showed Nady got his foot on the bag first, but Runge ruled Loney safe. Silva, who ran over to cover, protested vehemently to Runge."He got over there late, first of all, but we saw the guy out at first base. That was the main complaint," said Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who came out to argue the call a night after being ejected. "Silva said something to the umpire and the umpire kicked him out of the ballgame."I'll tell you what, this crew here, I don't want to see them the rest of the year. I usually don't complain about umpires, but boy, we never got a call all weekend."Silva (9-3) allowed six runs and six hits in 1 1/3 innings, walked three and struck out two. He injured his upper right calf at Arizona last Tuesday."He wasn't driving off his back leg very well," Piniella said. "He should be much better his next time out, about eight or nine days from now."
The Dodgers own a 1,021-1,018 lead over the Cubs in a series that began in 1890. ... It was the Dodgers' seventh shutout and fifth at home. ... The Dodgers optioned RHP John Ely to Triple-A Albuquerque and recalled RHP Jon Link. ... Piniella said he'll spend the three-day All-Star break boating on Lake Michigan with his wife, son and future daughter-in-law. ... Torre plans to "hang out" and watch the game. ... Dodgers PA announcer Eric Smith paid tribute to late Yankees announcer Bob Sheppard, who died Sunday, by saying each player's number a second time after introducing them.