SAN DIEGO (CBSLA.com/AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers were celebrating Adrian Gonzalez’s tie-breaking home run when the crowd’s roar directed attention back to the field.
Hanley Ramirez sent the next pitch out, too, giving the Dodgers a 3-1 victory over the San Diego Padres on Sunday and a split the four-game series.
“Hanley’s home run was the after-party that keeps the celebration going,” Gonzalez said. “This win was a big one for us. We needed to split the series and build some positive momentum. I’m glad we were able to do that.”
Gonzalez broke a 1-all tie with a drive to right field off closer Huston Street, and Ramirez hit the next pitch to right-center. It was the second home run in two days for both players.
“We’re 2-0 when Hanley and I homer in the same game,” Gonzalez said. “We need to keep that trend going. We need to produce in the middle of the lineup.”
The Dodgers also got solid efforts on the mound. Chris Capuano threw five shutout innings on short rest and a shaky bullpen held up when Padres relievers could not.
“A lot of good stuff happened today,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “We got a solid start and clutch hitting from the middle of our lineup. That’s what you want. That’s what you should expect from this club.”
The Dodgers have been beset by injuries — Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and Ted Lilly remain out — but Mattingly doesn’t want to use that as a crutch. He believes the Dodgers are healthy enough now to win consistently.
“We are pretty much at full strength,” Mattingly said. “There are no excuses at this point. We have the talent in the middle of the order to produce in a big way. It’s nice when those thumpers come through for us in the clutch.”
Street (0-4) has given up 10 home runs in 26 1-3 innings this season. Last year, he allowed two in 39 innings.
“Bottom line … it’s location,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “Huston is a guy who changes speeds. He has impeccable control. This year, at times, it’s been spotty. We have to get him to the point where he’s consistently hitting his spots and making his pitches.”
Brandon League (3-3) got the last out in the eighth and Kenley Jansen earned his fourth save.
Ramirez kept up his torrid hitting of late. He is 11 for 22 with six runs, seven RBIs and two homers in his last six games.
The Dodgers were in position to win because of Capuano, who volunteered to start on short rest just days after returning from the disabled list. He was healthy, able and up to the task. The left-hander threw five shutout innings, struck out five and walked none. He let only two runners reach scoring position and was pulled before the sixth due to a 75-pitch limit. He threw 74.
Los Angeles needed someone to start on short rest after playing a doubleheader Wednesday against the New York Yankees. Capuano pitched six shutout innings that day, showing no ill effects from the strained left calf that sidelined him on May 29.
“I knew that I had a relatively stress free outing in New York where I threw just 80 pitches,” Capuano said. “I knew we were going to need a starter for Sunday and I thought I was the guy to take that responsibility. Given the way my body and my arm felt, the assignment made perfect sense.”
Capuano has pitched 11 shutout innings since returning from the DL, a run he credits to a mechanical tweak that has improved location and the life on his fastball.
Padres starter Andres Cashner had life on most pitches in one of the best starts of his young career. He allowed one run in eight innings. He generated 18 outs on the ground with efficiency uncharacteristic of a strikeout pitcher. He fanned only two, but was rarely challenged by the Dodgers.
“The best part about it was the efficiency,” Cashner said. “I was able to keep my pitch count down and I threw some good pitches when I was behind in the count.”
The Dodgers have won two straight, but haven’t won three in a row since April 7th. Buried in last place, the Dodgers must go on a run to get back in the NL West race. Mattingly knows they need to do it soon.
“This is a time where we need to get on a roll and we build some momentum,” he said. “We’ve seemed to stall in the past. This time, hopefully we won’t.”
The Dodgers go 4-5 on their road trip and return to host the San Francisco Giants on Monday.
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