LOS ANGELES (AP) — LOS ANGELES (AP) — With a month to go, the Los Angeles Dodgers are on a roll and the prospect of salvaging a downer season by finishing .500 is within reach.
Matt Kemp got his career-high 102nd RBI and Rod Barajas hit a two-run homer in a 4-2 victory over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday that completed a three-game series sweep.
It was the eighth win in nine games for the bankrupt Dodgers, who went 17-11 in August to move into third place in the NL West and within five games of the .500 mark for the first time since June 12.
They came in averaging 6.4 runs in their previous 12 games, going 9-3 since Aug. 18 to lead the NL in runs and homers during that span.
“Everything we’ve been doing all year long we’re still doing,” manager Don Mattingly said. “The biggest difference is offensively we’ve been able to put up some runs and our confidence has grown. Guys have really continued to get after it every day. We’ve played good defense and we’ve pitched well, which tells you where you’re at as a club.”
Los Angeles starter Ted Lilly (9-13) allowed two runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out three and had a season-high four walks in his ninth career win over the Padres — his most against a single opponent.
The left-hander didn’t give up a homer for the first time since July 23 against Washington, but struggled to keep his focus in the day game.
“I definitely had a tough time, but we played very good defense,” Lilly said. “Today was one of those days where Rod did the best he could working with me. I didn’t give him a lot of options. When you’re having trouble throwing your fastball for strikes and you go to your slider and it’s not working, it makes it tougher.”
Javy Guerra pitched the ninth to earn his 13th save in 14 chances.
The Padres lost their season-high seventh in a row, sixth straight at Chavez Ravine, and finished 1-7 on their eight-game trip.
Wade LeBlanc (2-4) gave up four runs and six hits in six innings, struck out three and walked one for San Diego. The left-hander fell to 1-5 in seven career starts against the Dodgers, including a 1-4 mark with a 7.20 ERA in five starts at Chavez Ravine.
“I didn’t have a whole lot today, so when you get to that point, it’s just a matter of how close you can keep the game and give the guys a chance to win it,” he said. “Mechanically, I just felt really off. I felt like I was rushing.”
Kemp’s single to left in the first inning gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. He showed off his arm in the second, cutting down Alberto Gonzalez at second base for his NL-tying 10th outfield assist, although he failed to score a run, ending his streak at seven games.
Kemp, Andre Ethier and James Loney have been clicking offensively in recent weeks, contributing to the Dodgers’ surge. Loney went 2 for 3 and has driven in at least one run in seven of his last eight games. He’s hitting .476 since Aug. 21.
“It seems to me there’s a bit more confidence and aggressiveness than I saw earlier,” Lilly said. “We’re playing the way we’ve been capable of. I really don’t look at it as a surprise we’re finding ways to win.”
LeBlanc tied it with a two-out RBI single in the second that was preceded by consecutive walks by Lilly.
The Dodgers took the lead for good when Barajas hit a 3-1 pitch off the left-field foul pole in the bottom of the second. Barajas’ 15th homer drove in Loney, who was aboard on a leadoff walk.
“It was just up and when you miss up to guys, especially with mediocre fastballs, they’re going to take advantage of it,” LeBlanc said. “It was just bad timing for me, with a guy on base. The pitch could have been a lot better.”
Loney’s RBI single into the left-field corner extended the Dodgers’ lead to 4-1 in the fourth.
The Padres’ other run came on Gonzalez’s RBI double in the sixth.
NOTES: The Dodgers called up LHP Dana Eveland from Triple-A Albuquerque to start Thursday’s makeup game at Pittsburgh. … Dodgers RF Andre Ethier, who came in hitting .533 on the homestand, singled as a pinch hitter in the eighth. … The Dodgers earned their fourth series sweep of the season and their second over the Padres. … San Diego selected the contract of RHP Brad Brach from Triple-A Tucson and he made his major league debut in the seventh. He yielded two singles in 1 1-3 innings, striking out three of the seven batters he faced, including Kemp for his first big league K. … The Padres claimed OF Jeremy Hermida off outright waivers from Cincinnati and designated C Kyle Phillips for assignment. Hermida is set to join the team in San Diego on Friday. … The Padres optioned OF Blake Tekotte to Double-A San Antonio and transferred RHP Dustin Moseley from the 15-day to the 60-day DL. Moseley had season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder Aug. 3. … The Dodgers placed RHP Matt Guerrier on paternity leave and recalled RHP Josh Lindblom from Double-A Chattanooga. Lindblom replaced Lilly and threw 16 pitches in the sixth inning.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)