LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ian Kennedy froze Yasiel Puig on consecutive fastballs that were perfectly framed by batterymate Rene Rivera in the third inning, and Puig was ejected by umpire David Rackley for arguing about his strike zone.
The only other time Puig was ejected in the big leagues was last June, when Kennedy was with the Arizona Diamondbacks and hit the Los Angeles Dodgers’ right fielder in the face with a pitch. Two more batters were plunked that night and a bench-clearing brawl ensued.
Once Puig left Saturday night’s game, Kennedy had a much easier time taming the Dodgers, who got only three singles against the right-hander in eight innings. But the Padres managed just two hits against emergency starter Paul Maholm, and the Dodgers pulled out a 1-0 victory on A.J. Ellis’ sacrifice fly against Kevin Quackenbush.
“We can only try to control what we can control,” said Kennedy, who had eight strikeouts. “It was tough because Maholm threw the ball really well and kept mixing it up to every single hitter. But it’s always fun to pitch in those kind of games where you keep going back and forth before someone has a rally.”
Kennedy was coming off back-to-back victories over Cincinnati and Colorado. This was the third straight start in which he pitched at least six innings while allowing fewer than two earned runs, and the ninth overall under those circumstances. St. Louis’ Adam Wainwright leads the NL with 12 such outings.
“Ian’s been outstanding. He and Tyson Ross have sort of set the tone for the rest of the staff,” manager Bud Black said. “We’re seeing some of the things he’s worked on with Darren (pitching coach Darren Balsley), as far as his delivery, and I think there’s been a little uptick in his stuff. The advance scouting has done a nice job for him, too, in terms of how to attack the opposing lineup.”
The Dodgers had a pair of harmless singles through the first six innings before Kennedy issued a leadoff walk in the seventh to Matt Kemp, who was thrown out trying to steal by Rivera. Andre Ethier also walked, and Juan Uribe followed with a single before Ellis flied out and Miguel Rojas fouled out to Rivera.
“That’s a really good lineup, but you’ve just got to navigate through it and execute pitches,” Kennedy said. “Later on in the game, my curveball was better, sharper. It wasn’t very good in the bullpen and I was bouncing it. But my fastball location was keeping me ahead of guys.”
Adrian Gonzalez greeted Quackenbush (1-2) with a leadoff double in the ninth before Kemp struck out and Ethier was intentionally walked. Uribe then worked out a seven-pitch walk that included two checked swings that were upheld on appeal by first base umpire Jim Wolf. Black then employed a drawn-in five-man infield, but Ellis was able to lift a 1-2 pitch to right field.
“You can’t even look at them,” Ellis said. “One of the worst things you can do as a hitter is try to direct the ball. You just hit it where it’s pitched, so the infield is the least of my concerns. It’s great to be in those situations. And I got in a position to be the guy who drives in the big run.”
Maholm, filling in for the injured Josh Beckett, threw 64 pitches through the first six innings – using just nine in the first, third, fourth and sixth. The only hits against him were singles in the fourth and seventh by Chase Headley, whose solo homer in Thursday’s series opener ended Clayton Kershaw’s string of 41 consecutive scoreless innings.
“Maholm was changing speeds, and it looked like he kept the ball out of the middle of the plate,” Black said. “We didn’t have many good swings or hard contact. That tells me the ball was on the corner and he was keeping us off-balance.”
Maholm, who came in 1-6 with a 4.27 ERA in his eight previous career starts against San Diego, was lifted by manager Don Mattingly after Headley’s leadoff hit. Brandon League finished the seventh after retiring Carlos Quentin on a double-play grounder to third with his second pitch.
Kenley Jansen (1-3) pitched a scoreless ninth for the victory, striking out cleanup hitter Yasmani Grandal with runners at first and second. The Dodgers’ victory, coupled with San Francisco’s loss, put the Dodgers back in front of the Giants by a full game in the NL West.
NOTES: The Padres are taking advantage of the four-day All-Star break by optioning RHP Jesse Hahn (5-2, 2.21 ERA) to Triple-A El Paso after he pitched six innings of three-hit ball Friday night in his seventh big league start and beat the Dodgers 6-3. Black said the club will continue to keep a close eye on Hahn’s innings the rest of the season. … INF Jace Peterson was recalled by the Padres to fill in for injured 1B Tommy Medica, who was removed from Thursday’s game because of tightness in his groin and remains on the active roster.