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Opportunistic Dodgers beat Padres in finale to take series

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The Dodgers have won six straight series against the Padres, dating back to 2014, and are 11-5 against San Diego in 2015.

Nick Vincent is about to give the Dodgers some much-needed breathing room.
Nick Vincent is about to give the Dodgers some much-needed breathing room.
Denis Poroy/Getty Images

A three-run throwing error by relief pitcher Nick Vincent blew the game wide open, giving the Dodgers a 5-1 win over the Padres on Sunday afternoon at Petco Park in San Diego.

With their 11th win in their last 13 games, the Dodgers maintained their 7½-game lead in the National League West, and lowered their magic number to clinch the division to 19.

The Dodgers threatened all day but couldn't seem to scratch more than a couple runs together in the series finale. They were 3-for-16 with runners in scoring position, and two of the hits didn't even score a run.

So up 2-1 in the seventh inning, two-out singles by Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner loaded the bases for Andre Ethier, who hit a dribbler up the first base line. Vincent fielded the ball but had to throw the ball over Ethier to get the out at first base; the throw was not only over Ethier but over the head of Wil Myers at first base as well.

As the ball scrambled into the right field corner, all three runners scored, giving the Dodgers some cushion and reaching the magical five-run barrier.

The Dodgers are 49-7 (.875) when scoring five or more runs in a game this season.

For starters

Both starting pitchers had trouble with command, especially early, but found a way to settle in.

The Dodgers scored a run off Andrew Cashner in the first inning without a hit, thanks to two walks, a hit by pitch and a sacrifice fly, the latter by Andre Ethier.

The Dodgers put runners in scoring position in the second, fourth and fifth innings but failed to score. In the sixth inning Turner doubled and Ethier followed with a single to left, the Dodgers' first hit with runners in scoring position all day, but Turner thought the ball might be caught by Jedd Gyorko at shortstop and didn't even advance to third on the play.

But the Dodgers were able to push that go-ahead run across in the sixth against Cashner. Turner advanced to third when Corey Seager just missed his first major league home run, flying out to the wall in center field, then scored on a single to left, generously off the glove of Justin Upton.

Ellis had two hits and a walk, and has reached base by hit or walk in 21 of his last 22 starts.

Turner was 2-for-4, his first multi-hit game since Aug. 14. He was 8-for-64 in between multi-hit games.

Brett Anderson also loaded the bases in the first inning, but with two outs and got out of the jam. He walked a season-high four, but the only run he allowed was a home run by Gyorko in the third inning on a changeup that missed location.

Anderson struck out four for the win, but left early in the sixth inning with a left leg cramp. The Dodgers say he is day-to-day.

Sixth sense

After the Dodgers grabbed the lead again in the top of the sixth inning, the Dodgers infield defense made sure to keep it that way in the bottom of the inning, at the expense of the Upton brothers.

With one out, Justin Upton had designs on a single up the middle, but Turner — in his first start at second base since May 8 — made a fantastic play to rob him.

Then with runners on first and second base with two outs later in the inning, pinch hitter Melvin Upton Jr. hit a smash off the glove a diving Seager at third base, but the ball caromed directly to shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who made a strong throw to first base for the unconventional 5-6-3 bacon-saving single play.

Bullpen rebound

J.P. Howell got the final out of the sixth inning, then the Dodgers got scoreless frames from Luis Avilan, Yimi Garcia and Pedro Baez to close out the game.

After allowing six runs in the final three innings to blow Thursday's series opener, Dodgers relief pitchers in San Diego allowed just one run on four hits in 9⅓ innings, with no walks and 12 strikeouts.

Men of steal

The Dodgers continued their running ways on Sunday, with three steals in four attempts against Cashner, who had been relatively stingy to opposing base runners this season. Entering Sunday, would-be thieves had eight steals against Cashner in 26 starts but were caught nine times.

Rollins stole second in the fifth inning, though he probably was out had Gyorko held onto the throw. Rollins was then thrown out trying to steal third, ending the inning, and ending the Dodgers' streak at 16 consecutive stolen base attempts, dating back to Aug. 29.

In their last nine games the Dodgers have 16 steals, seven more than the next-best team (Texas).

Up next

The Dodgers return home to sleep in their own beds on Sunday night, and begin a three-game series in Anaheim on Monday night. Zack Greinke starts for the Dodgers in the opener on five days rest, with Nick Tropeano scheduled to pitch for the Angels.

Sunday particulars

Home run: Jedd Gyorko (13)

WP - Brett Anderson (9-8): 5⅔ IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts

LP - Andrew Cashner (5-14): 6 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts