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Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 4, Padres 2

6/22/2014

SAN DIEGO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers got the good feelings back after Friday night’s maddening ninth-inning meltdown here. They beat the San Diego Padres 4-2 Saturday night behind another remarkable performance by the dean of their starting rotation, Josh Beckett.

How it happened: Beckett just keeps throwing his curveball, and people just can’t hit it. The pitch has remade him into one of baseball’s best pitchers at an age when most are in steep decline. If not for scant run support, he would be a lock for the All-Star Game. Beckett, 34, struck out eight batters over seven shutout innings and allowed just four scattered hits. The Dodgers scored enough early off Tyson Ross to give Beckett (5-4) something to work with against a truly awful Padres lineup, which was bad to begin with and now is beset with injuries. Beckett’s 2.28 ERA is the third-best in the National League.

After blowing a two-run lead the previous night, closer Kenley Jansen got back in action, faced some of the same hitters as the previous evening and pitched a scoreless ninth for his 21st save.

Hits: Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez have begun producing runs more consistently. It is opportune timing, as Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez have slowed down in various degrees during recent weeks. Ramirez drove in two of the Dodgers’ runs Saturday with a shallow sacrifice fly (Dee Gordon was running from third) and a single. He is hitting .342 with three doubles, two home runs and nine RBIs in his past 11 games. Kemp is batting .429 since June 12.

Misses: What is one to make of Gonzalez’s slide? He hasn’t homered in a month and is batting .195 in his past 22 games. He continues to hit ground balls -- he had three more Saturday -- and with his lack of speed those are rarely going to be base hits. On the other hand, he's still a dangerous hitter with runners in scoring position because he simplifies his approach. Gonzalez drove in the Dodgers' fourth run with a single up the middle. He is hitting .288 with runners in scoring position, 80 points better than without men in scoring position.

Stat of the game: Gordon stole a base and created a run in the third inning. It was his 39th steal in the Dodgers’ 76th game, putting him on pace for 83 stolen bases this season. It would be the most prolific base stealing in a season by a Dodger since Maury Wills had 94 in 1965. No one has stolen as many as 80 bases in the majors since 1988, when Rickey Henderson (88) and Vince Coleman (80) made the mark.

Up next: The Dodgers haven’t lost a series since June 4. They can keep that trend up with a win Sunday behind Hyun-Jin Ryu (8-3, 3.13 ERA). The Dodgers face lefty Eric Stults (2-9, 5.76) in a game that starts at 1:10 p.m. PT.