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Padres beat Dodgers, won't finish with losing record

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- The San Diego Padres won't be making the wrong
kind of history.

The NL West champions guaranteed themselves at least a .500
record by beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-1 on Friday night
behind seven strong innings from Woody Williams.

There's never been a division champion in a non-strike year
that's finished with a losing record. The Padres appeared capable
of becoming the first the way they struggled earlier in September,
but they've won three straight games and are 81-79 with two to
play.

"It's not an all-important thing to us, but there is some pride
involved," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We certainly didn't want to
finish this year going into the postseason under .500 and have that
stigma on us. More importantly, we played good baseball."

Since 1969, and excluding strike-shortened years, the 1973 New
York Mets own the lowest winning percentage of a division champion
by going 82-79 (.509) to win the NL East.

The Padres need to win their final two games to go 83-79 (.512).
If they split their last two games, they'll finish 82-80 (.506).

"Does it really matter to us? No," said Robert Fick. "We did
what we had to do to win the division. I've been on the best team
in baseball going into the playoffs and it doesn't matter."

In 2003, Fick played for the Atlanta Braves, who won 101 games
but lost to the Chicago Cubs in the divisional series. The New York
Yankees also won 101 games that year.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, fell to 70-90. The last time they had 90
or more losses was 1992, when they lost 99.

Williams (9-12) did his part for the Padres, holding the Dodgers
to three hits and one run in seven innings. Jose Cruz Jr. doubled
leading off the seventh and advanced on Dioner Navarro's groundout,
but Williams struck out Jayson Werth on a checked-swing third
strike and then got Jason Repko swinging.

Two starts earlier, Sept. 20 at Colorado, Williams allowed nine
runs and nine hits before being chased in the second inning without
getting an out. With Williams making the shortest start of his
career, the Padres lost 20-1.

"I'm pleased with the way things went tonight," Williams said.
"I made a few mistakes and the one guy hit it out of the ballpark,
but for the most part, I did what I wanted to do."

Williams will now wait to find out whether he starts Game 2 of
the Padres' divisional series, against either St. Louis or Atlanta.

"If they want to give me the ball I'll be ready," he said.
"If not, I'll be a cheerleader."

Williams and two relievers combined on a four-hitter. Rudy
Seanez pitched a perfect eighth, and Scott Linebrink pitched the
ninth for his first save in six chances, and the first of his
career.

"It's fun to be the last guy in there, kind of get a chance to
taste what Hoffy does every night," said Linebrink, who's normally
a setup man for Trevor Hoffman. "To do that is something special,
and to have him looking on made it even more special."

The Padres clinched the division Wednesday night, then rested
all their regulars on Thursday night.

Six regulars were back in the lineup Friday night, including
Brian Giles, who had an RBI single during the three-run third. San
Diego had only five hits.

That was the Padres' only hit off Derek Lowe (12-15) that
inning. San Diego also had two walks, a hit batsman and a sacrifice
fly, and Cruz, the Dodgers' right fielder, committed two errors on
one play.

Lowe hit rookie Paul McAnulty leading off the inning, then
issued one-out walks to Mark Loretta and Fick to load the bases
before Khalil Greene hit a sacrifice fly. Giles singled to right to
bring in Loretta. Cruz bobbled the ball to allow Fick to take
third, and his throw to third hit Fick and caromed away, allowing
the runner to score and make it 3-0.

Oscar Robles homered to right leading off the fourth, his fifth.

"We're struggling to score runs right now, so anything we get
is a plus," Robles said. "Unfortunately, tonight, it wasn't
enough."

The Dodgers have scored just six runs in losing four straight.

"Tonight's another case of what we've been dealing with the
last few days," manager Jim Tracy said. "We pitched well enough
to win, but didn't hit well enough to win."

Lowe allowed three runs, two earned, and five hits in 6 1-3
innings.

Game notes
It was just the second time this season that someone other
than Hoffman saved a game for the Padres. Akinori Otsuka also has
one save. ... Padres CF Dave Roberts, sidelined since last Saturday
night with a strained quad, said he'll try to play on Sunday and
get two or three at-bats.