Dodgers show Padres NL West still runs through L. A.
Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp, right, and James Loney congratulates each other after the Dodgers 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres in a baseball game Sunday, May 16, 2010 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
San Diego Padres starting pitcher Wade LeBlanc pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 16, 2010 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
San Diego Padres center fielder Tony Gwynn just misses catching a two-run home run hit by Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp in the seventh inning of a baseball game Friday May 14, 2010 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
By Darren Feeney / KFMB Interactive
After a lackluster April to start the season, the Dodgers have rallied off seven straight wins and return home two games back in the National League West after completing a three-game sweep of the first-place San Diego Padres.
In a much anticipated home series with divisional rival Los Angeles, the Friday night fireworks at Petco Park would be the only explosion Padres fans would see for the rest of the weekend.
Eager to see the Padres' new bats take on the Dodgers for the first time this season, Friars fans instead saw 17 scoreless innings to close the series.
After entering the weekend with a 3 1/2-game lead, the Padres' margin atop the NL West trimmed down to a half-game over the San Francisco Giants, who come in for a two-game series starting Monday night.
Giving the Padres a taste of their own medicine, the Dodgers put together solid starting pitching, timely hitting, and good relief out of the bullpen, winning by margins (4-3, 4-1, 1-0) that look awfully similar to the Padres' ways of winning to start the year.
Nonetheless, the Dodgers came and left San Diego with a clear message, sweeping the Padres for the first time this season and earning their second sweep in as many series.
In Friday's series opener, when Matt Kemp's go-ahead two-run home run off Luke Gregerson barely lifted past the outstretched glove of Tony Gwynn and over the center field wall—on Gregerson's birthday—it was a sign of things to come.
The run snapped Gregerson's 16 1/3 scoreless innings streak.
On Sunday afternoon, Padres starter Wade LeBlanc's took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but Chad Billingsley pitched like the right-hander who was an All-Star last season.
Russell Martin's RBI single in the sixth was one of only two hits allowed by LeBlanc (2-1).
Billingsley (4-2) shut down the Padres over 7 1-3 innings, allowing just four singles, striking out six, and walking one. Jonathan Broxton pitched a perfect ninth for his third save in the series and his seventh overall in nine chances.
The Dodgers didn't get out of San Diego completely unscathed.
Andre Ethier was a late scratch from Saturday's contest after breaking the first knuckle on his right pinkie. A trip to the disabled list may be Ethier's next stop, who was off to a sizzling start to his fifth major league season, batting .392 with 11 homers and 38 RBI, leading the National League in all three categories at the time of his injury.
The Padres will head to Dodger Stadium Wednesday for a two-game series after hosting San Francisco in what will be a pivotal four games in the NL West.