Padres' five-run third dooms Ashby, Dodgers

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Andy Ashby's September meltdown continued just
when the Los Angeles Dodgers could least afford it.

Ashby fell apart against his old team in the third inning and
the San Diego Padres beat Los Angeles 8-4 Friday night, dropping
the Dodgers two games behind San Francisco in the NL wild-card

Ashby (9-13) allowed five runs on six straight hits without
getting an out in the third to fall behind 5-1. The Dodgers and the
Giants, who won 5-1 at Milwaukee, have eight games left apiece,
none against each other.

"It is not a crippling defeat,'' manager Jim Tracy said. "It
is a crippling defeat if the Giants win out. The likelihood of
that, I don't think is all that good.''

The Dodgers have lost 11 of 16 games since Sept. 4. Last-place
San Diego, which started the night a season-high 30½ games behind
Arizona, has won six of its last seven games against Los Angeles
and leads the season series 8-5.

San Diego leadoff hitter Ramon Vazquez, a rookie, matched his
career-high with four hits, including a single to start San Diego's
third-inning barrage and an RBI double in the seventh. Phil Nevin
and Brian Buchanan each had two RBI.

Ashby lost his fourth straight start and fell to 0-3 in four
starts against San Diego this year, with a 7.45 ERA.

Ashby allowed hits to all six batters he faced in the third.
Ryan Klesko hit an RBI double into the right-field corner, Nevin
followed with a two-run double into the gap in right-center and,
after rookie Sean Burroughs singled to left, Gene Kingsale chased
Ashby with an RBI single to center. Buchanan greeted Giovanni
Carrara with an RBI single.

Ashby was gone by the time reporters were allowed in the

"We got beat in the third inning tonight. That's all there is
to it,'' Tracy said. "He hasn't had a good start his last three or
four times out.''

The Padres said the third inning was contagious.

"Sometimes those things happen where one guys feeds off another
and before you now it, you've put together a big inning,'' said
Mark Kotsay, who singled and scored in the third.

Ashby's two innings marked his shortest start since he worked a
career-low one inning for San Diego on opening day 1999 against
Colorado. In his previous three starts, Ashby failed to pitch
longer than five innings.

"He was leaving his pitches over the plate and we got some good

The Dodgers never recovered, even with solo homers by Eric
Karros and Mark Grudzielanek off Brett Tomko (10-10) that pulled
the Dodgers to 5-3 in the fourth. It was Karros' 13th and
Grudzielanek's ninth.

San Diego added a run in the fourth when catcher Paul Lo Duca's
throw back to Karros on a double-play attempt sailed over the first
baseman's head. L.A. pinch-hitter Mike Kinkade hit an RBI single in
the sixth and Buchanan and Vazquez had RBI doubles in San Diego's

With one out in the top of the third, Los Angeles took a 1-0 on
Shawn Green's grounder when the Padres couldn't turn a double play.
Third baseman Nevin's throw was to the right side of the bag and
Burroughs didn't get off a good throw to first.

Tomko allowed four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings, struck
out three and walked three.

Game notes
Vazquez finished 4-for-5. In his last nine games, he had
been 3-for-32. ... Ashby, who tied a career high with 13 losses,
has allowed 16 earned runs and 33 hits in four starts against the
Padres this season. ... Buchanan and Tom Lampkin were the only
Padres regulars not to get a hit off Ashby. ... Karros played his
1,594th game, passing Maury Wills for 10th place on the Dodgers'
all-time list, and fourth among L.A. Dodgers.