Peavy, Padres come up empty in LA

Peavy, Padres come up empty

LOS ANGELES -- He gave the bullpen a breather Friday, pitching eight innings. He also improved greatly on his last outing, allowing two hits over eight scoreless innings against a lineup that rates as one of the best in the National League.

Moral victories? Yes, there were more than a few for Jake Peavy to wrap his right arm around at Dodger Stadium, though none were worth holding onto, not after the Dodgers walked away with a 1-0 victory on a bases-loaded walk in the ninth inning.

"At the end of the night, a loss is a loss," said Peavy, who found very little in the way of solace despite an outing that was eerily reminiscent of starts he had in 2007, the year that he ran away with the NL Cy Young Award.

And a vexing loss at that for a team that has dropped nine of its past 11 games and was starving for strong pitching. The Padres got it Friday, as Peavy struck out eight and walked one batter in a 115-pitch outing.

But all was lost in the ninth inning, when reliever Duaner Sanchez allowed a hit and then walked three, including the game-winner to Russell Martin, who fouled off five pitches before taking ball four with two outs.

"In those situations, you've got to try and make pitches because one pitch can beat you," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Every pitch is critical. He [Sanchez] has been in that situation before. The number of foul balls Martin hit ... that was a good at-bat."

The Padres (11-12), who fell below the .500 mark for the first time since the first week of the season, got the pitching they needed Friday, though they were unsuccessful again offensively in critical situations.

The Padres managed four hits but took two walks against 21-year-old Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, who allowed all four hits in seven innings.

"We had a couple of chances to advance runners but didn't do it," Black said. "We didn't handle the bat in situational hitting."

The Padres got the leadoff hitter on second base twice, with doubles by Scott Hairston in the fourth inning and again on a Kevin Kouzmanoff double to start the seventh. But they were stranded each time.

"Those are the type of games we have to win. When Jake goes out there and does what he does ... we've got to score a run," said Padres outfielder Chase Headley, who had one of the Padres hits but also grounded into a double play in the fourth inning.

"He was incredible. You know that they didn't have a chance to score a run. When a guy pitches like that, you've got to find a way to score."

While the Padres' offense scuffled against four Dodgers pitchers, Peavy plugged away on the mound knowing that scoring opportunities were going to be scarce. It's not something he hasn't faced before, though that doesn't make it any easier.

Nor did the fact that he entered the game with a 5.74 ERA after a rough start on Sunday in which he allowed five runs in five innings to the Pirates in losing for the third time this season. But Peavy looked like a different pitcher on Friday.

"He was pretty good ... that was one of the best nights I've seen so far," Padres catcher Henry Blanco said. "He was aggressive the whole night. That was the big key for him."

That was a far cry from the start against the Pirates in which Peavy walked four and gave up two critical hits with runners in scoring position. The Dodgers (16-8) never got that far on Friday, as they didn't get a runner to second base until the ninth inning.

"Personally, I was OK. I was better than I have been. I was aggressive in the strike zone," Peavy said. "I believe in my ability and what I'm able to do. I'm going to stick with it. ... Tonight was something to build off."

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