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Debuts spoiled in Padres' loss

Debuts spoiled in Padres' loss

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SAN DIEGO -- It was a learning curve kind of night Wednesday at PETCO Park, where the Padres gave a 32-year-old rookie pitcher and a 22-year-old shortstop their first starts at the Major League level.

The reviews from manager Bud Black were mostly positive for Walter Silva and Everth Cabrera, even if the Dodgers pulled away late for a 5-2 victory over the Padres before a chilled crowd of 31,700 at PETCO Park.

Silva, who hadn't pitched professionally in the United States before Wednesday's game, allowed two runs, four walks in five innings, or about two innings after his legs stopped shaking from nerves.

"My legs were shaking a little," Silva said. "When I faced Manny [Ramirez] in the first inning, I was nervous. Then I got some outs and I got into the game. For my first start ... I felt good."

Cabrera, who could well become the Padres' shortstop of the future, was 1-for-2 with a double, his first Major League hit, and a walk. He handled everything hit his way and looked much like the player the Padres hope he'll become.

Cabrera was selected in December's Rule 5 Draft from Colorado and must stay on the Padres' 25-man roster all season or be offered back. The Padres like his potential and have vowed to play him.

But while Silva and Cabrera more or less gave Black and the Padres (1-2) the kind of things they saw in Spring Training, the same can't be said of many new faces who are now pitching in the bullpen, new faces who weren't here three weeks ago.

Black said Tuesday that one of his greatest challenges, especially in this first month of the season, is to find out what each reliever is capable of and how they can be used and how often they can be used.

On Wednesday, Black discovered something about reliever Edward Mujica, who was a late addition in the final week of Spring Training. Mujica pitched a scoreless inning on Monday, and Black went to him again in the tied game Wednesday.

Mujica tossed a scoreless sixth inning but ran into trouble in the seventh inning, though the hits he allowed to Rafael Furcal (a soft hit ball to left field) and Orlando Hudson (a ball that didn't even make it out of the infield) weren't exactly scorched.

This is why Black was hesitant, even at that point, to bring in help to face Ramirez, who singled earlier in the game and walked. Black went to the mound to talk to Mujica and motioned for the infielders to join him.

He almost got more company than he expected.

Reliever Cla Meredith, warming up in the bullpen, apparently saw Black motion for his infielders and got the wrong idea that he was being summoned. Meredith jogged roughly halfway across the vast outfield at PETCO Park before noticing that he was waved away.

"He was on call," Black said of Meredith, a right-handed specialist who allowed a home run to Ramirez last season on the only occasion he's faced the Dodgers slugger. "At that point, we decided to leave Edward in. He was throwing the ball well.

"We were at a point where you feel a matchup might work for a certain guy."

Only it didn't. Ramirez drilled a double the other way, as the ball went over the head of Brian Giles in right field, one-hopping the wall as Furcal and Hudson scored for a 4-2 advantage.

Meredith did eventually make it into the game that inning and, three batters later, allowed an RBI single to left-handed-hitting James Loney for a 5-2 lead.

That was enough offensive support for the Dodgers (2-1), as starter Chad Billingsley and three relievers limited the Padres to three hits.

"He was wildly effective. He would run it up and away and then come back and hit the corner," Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said of Billingsley. "It's tough to get a good read on that."

If not for a severe bout of wildness in the fifth inning, when he walked the bases full and allowed two runs, Billingsley might well have worked longer than six innings. Relievers Cory Wade, Hong-Chih Kuo and Jonathan Broxton combined for four strikeouts in the final three scoreless innings.

As for Silva, who will make his next start on Monday at Citi Field against the Mets on the day they open their new stadium, he was mostly pleased with the way that he threw and was happy his 25 or so family members, many of whom drove the 18 hours to PETCO Park from Mazatlan, Mexico, were in attendance.

Silva got nine ground-ball outs, and the four walks, including two to Billingsley, did not hurt him much. He did leave a 2-0 fastball up in the second inning that Casey Blake hit into the left-field seats, but Silva mostly mixed his pitches well.

"Stuff-wise, it was pretty much what we've seen," Black said. "He got a couple of balls up, but overall, he showed his ability. I liked his assortment of pitches. It's going to come down to his location and ability to change speeds."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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