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Peavy matches career high with 11 strikeouts

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The Los Angeles Dodgers lost the game and
pitcher Brad Penny, while their lead in the NL West shrunk again.

Jake Peavy combined on a three-hit shutout and Phil Nevin hit a
two-run homer, lifting the San Diego Padres to a 4-0 win Wednesday
night, slicing Los Angeles' lead over the San Francisco Giants to a
half-game.

The Giants beat Houston 5-1 to pull closest to the Dodgers since
they also trailed them by a half-game on July 15. Los Angeles has
lost five of seven, while San Francisco has won nine of 10.

"It's an 11-game season and we're still in first place,"
Dodgers manager Jim Tracy said.

The Dodgers had a six-game lead 11 days ago.

"Things are a little indecisive in here right now," catcher
David Ross said. "But it's still in our hands."

The loss of Penny weighed heavily on the Dodgers. The
right-hander left in the fourth inning after reaggravating the
nerve in his upper right arm. It was same injury that sidelined
Penny since Aug. 8 when he strained his right biceps.

Penny, acquired in a six-player deal with the Florida Marlins on
July 30, is scheduled to go back to Los Angeles on Thursday and
have an MRI performed.

"We don't like to talk about it, but I don't anticipate seeing
Brad Penny again this year," Tracy said.

Penny (9-10) grimaced and held his arm after he threw a pitch to
Jay Payton in the fourth inning. Tracy and assistant trainer Matt
Wilson came out to the mound and Penny told them that his arm
tightened up.

Penny allowed four runs -- three earned -- and three hits, and
walked five in three innings. It was not the outing the Dodgers
envisioned.

"We were hoping that he could give us a lift," outfielder
Milton Bradley said. "Obviously, it didn't work out."

Peavy (13-6) was dominant, allowing only three hits in eight
innings. Akinori Otsuka pitched a perfect ninth to complete the
Padres' eighth shutout.

"Man, he was outstanding," San Diego manager Bruce Bochy said.
"He had great velocity and he could throw any pitch any time."

Peavy allowed a leadoff single to Adrian Beltre in the second,
then retired 12 of 13. Peavy struck out eight of 10 during one
stretch and matched his career high with 11 strikeouts.

San Diego, which beat Los Angeles for the fifth time in six
games, pulled within 4½ games of the Dodgers. The Padres remained
four back of San Francisco in the wild-card race.

Peavy lowered his ERA to 2.28, which would lead the league if he
pitched the required minimum number of innings. Peavy, who has
allowed two earned runs or less in 21 of 25 starts, needs to pitch
7 2-3 more innings by season's end to have enough qualifying
innings for the NL ERA title.

"If it comes about, that would be awesome," Peavy said. "The
most important thing is trying to win these ballgames."

The 23-year-old Peavy is scheduled to pitch on three days' rest
for the first time in his three-year career Sunday against Arizona.

Nevin supplied all the offense the Padres needed with a homer
off Penny in the third after a two-out walk to Brian Giles. The
Padres added a run in the inning on Ramon Hernandez's RBI single.

Ramon Vazquez had a sacrifice fly in the fourth to increase the
lead to 4-0.

Los Angeles' only real scoring threat came in the sixth when
Jose Hernandez led off with a double. Peavy struck out two straight
before walking Steve Finley. The right-hander then got Beltre, the
majors' home run leader, on a foul pop up.

Game notes
Peavy also struck out 11 against Los Angeles on April 3,
2003. ... The last time San Diego was within four games of the NL
West lead was Aug. 3. ... Finley went 0-for-3 with a walk and is
hitless in his last 23 at-bats.