LOS ANGELES (AP) — A.J. Ellis hasn’t had many opportunities to drive in important runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season because of his two stints on the disabled list.
But Ellis was in the batter’s box at the right time Saturday night.
His bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the ninth inning lifted the Dodgers 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres and increased his RBI total to seven.
“It’s great to be in those situations. It’s something you always want to be a part of,” Ellis said. “After the eighth inning, I looked up at the scoreboard. I saw where I was hitting and I said, ‘You know, there’s a chance something could happen in the ninth.’
“And I got in a position to be the guy who drives in the big run.”
Adrian Gonzalez greeted Kevin Quackenbush (1-2) with a leadoff double before Matt Kemp struck out and Andre Ethier was intentionally walked. Juan Uribe then worked out a seven-pitch walk that included two checked swings that were upheld on appeal by first base umpire Jim Wolf. Ellis then lifted a 1-2 pitch to right field after Padres manager Bud Black then employed a drawn-in five-man infield.’
“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. In that situation, I’m looking to get a ball in the outfield, anyway, so the infield is the least of my concerns. I’m just looking for something up that I could hit to center or right, and I was really happy to find a pitch up there.”
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’ win, coupled with San Francisco’s loss, put the Dodgers back in front of the Giants by a full game in the NL West.
Left-hander Paul Maholm, coming out of the bullpen to make a spot start for the injured Josh Beckett, threw 64 pitches through the first six innings — using just nine in the first, third, fourth and sixth.
“Unfortunately for Josh, he had to miss a start and go on the DL, so I had to step in,” Maholm said. “I’ve made it known to the front office that I want to start, and that’s my gig. But I signed up for this. So whenever the call, they call — whether it’s one hitter or a couple of innings, I just want to pitch.”
It was Maholm’s 250th career start, his eighth this season and first since May 14 against the Marlins, when he was charged with 10 runs — five earned — over 3 2-3 innings in a 13-3 loss at Dodger Stadium. The Padres’ only hits off 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, 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.
Ian Kennedy held the Dodgers to three hits over eight innings and struck out eight, after 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.
“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.”
Dodgers All-Star right fielder Yasiel Puig was ejected by umpire David Rackley after he took a called third strike to end the third inning. His only other ejection in the majors was on June 11, 2013 — his ninth big league game — after a bench-clearing incident that also involved Kennedy.
NOTES: By virtue of Puig’s ejection, Ethier and Kemp found themselves at the same positions they had for most of their careers before Puig came along. Ethier moved from center to right, Kemp from left to center, and Carl Crawford went in to play left. … 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. Manager Bud 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. … Kershaw shaved off his scraggly beard for Sunday night’s trip to Minnesota and his fourth career All-Star game.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.