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Padres can't turn thrilling rally into win

Padres can't turn thrilling rally into win

SAN DIEGO -- In their very final inning Sunday, the Padres, attached at the hip again to another extra-inning game, had a pitcher hitting for himself with a runner on base and a backup catcher making his Major League debut.

At second base.

If nothing else, the Padres have become well-versed on how to handle extra innings, not that it makes this exercise any easier. Such was the case Sunday as James Loney's home run in the 13th inning sealed a 7-6 victory for the Dodgers over the Padres at PETCO Park.

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That the game even got to extra innings was no small miracle for a team that has already played 10 extra-inning games this season, with three that have lasted 13 or more innings.

The Padres are 6-4 in those extra-inning games.

The Dodgers (52-30) appeared well on their way to winning Sunday -- and in only nine innings, no less -- as starter Chad Billingsley took a two-hitter and a 6-1 lead into the ninth inning. But Chase Headley hit a solo home run and Tony Gwynn doubled as Dodgers manager Joe Torre went to his bullpen for closer Jonathan Broxton.

Broxton, who was named to the National League All-Star team earlier in the day, got David Eckstein to fly out for the first out but then ran into all sorts of command issues, walking Scott Hairston before striking out Adrian Gonzalez.

Pinch-hitter Will Venable singled in a run to make it 6-3. Broxton then issued walks to Edgar Gonzalez and Eliezer Alfonzo, the last forcing in a run that made it 6-4. Rookie Everth Cabrera then bounced a two-run single up the middle to tie the score.

"Phenomenal comeback against an All-Star closer," Padres manager Bud Black said. "The team showed a ton of heart. That was awesome."

It marked the second time in as many days that Cabrera, the 22-year-old rookie, came up with a big hit. On Saturday, Cabrera had a two-run single in the seventh inning and then knocked in a run one inning later for what would be a 7-4 victory.

"Great at-bat. He took Broxton to a full count and did what he did last night," Black said. "It was a scrappy, gritty at-bat."

Billingsley, who came into the game with an 8-3 career record against the Padres, had little issue getting to the ninth inning, using 91 pitches to get through eight innings. The only blight on his mark was a fifth-inning home run he allowed to Kevin Kouzmanoff.

"He's got a tremendous arm, he can go 90-94 mph, but it's not a straight fastball. It's like he's cutting it ... and doing it at 94," Headley said. "That's pretty good stuff."

The game was eerily reminiscent of a June 7 game at PETCO Park in which the Padres scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning vs. the D-backs to force extra innings, a game they would lose in 18 innings when shortstop Josh Wilson allowed a three-run home run to Arizona's Mark Reynolds.

The Padres (35-46) wouldn't go quite that far Sunday, nor would they tap a position player to pitch, though starting pitcher Kevin Correia had to hit in the 13th inning when Black ran out of position players.

Then there was the curious case of Josh Lobaton, recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Portland when Henry Blanco was placed on the disabled list with a strained right hamstring. Lobaton made his Major League debut in the 13th inning at second base. He had played shortstop in his youth but never in the Minor Leagues.

"I want to play. I want to stay here -- whatever they need," Lobaton said. "When I played shortstop I was like 14, 15, 16.

"He [Black] asked me if I played infield. I said, yeah, I played before. He said do you want to play second or first? I said I had played second once before, so I said, 'I'll play second.'"

Lobaton had to play the infield when second baseman Eckstein suffered a strained right hamstring in the bottom of the 12th inning while lunging for first base on a ground ball. General manager Kevin Towers said Eckstein could miss a week to 10 days.

"We'll wait 24 hours and see," Eckstein said. "It's hard to tell this early. I can feel it now, but there's some movement."

The Padres could have a much different-looking clubhouse when they open a series in Phoenix against the D-backs on Monday.

Hairston was traded to the Oakland A's after the game for two Minor League pitchers, right-handers Ryan Webb and Craig Italiano. Webb will join the team in Phoenix on Monday while Italiano likely will head to Class A Lake Elsinore.

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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