LOS ANGELES -- Miguel Tejada snagged the ball from his 300th career home run, a milestone insignificant to him except that it helped San Diego reclaim first place in the topsy-turvy NL West race.
Tejada's two-run homer gave the Padres a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night and a half-game lead over San Francisco as they returned to the top of the standings for the first time since last Saturday.
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"I'm pretty happy to do it, especially in the situation that I hit it," Tejada said. "I'm not a home run hitter, I just love to hit the ball hard."The Giants lost to the Chicago Cubs 2-0. It was the third time the division lead changed hands since the Padres lost at St. Louis to fall out of first on Sept. 16.Colorado lost 8-4 at Arizona, dropping the Rockies three games behind the Padres."With three teams out there, it's going to be a nail-biter," Padres reliever Heath Bell said.Tim Stauffer (5-4) allowed one run and three hits in six innings, struck out five and walked two. The right-hander made his fourth start since being recalled from the bullpen."I'm not doing anything differently, just trying to throw some strikes. I didn't feel quite as sharp, but I made pitches when I needed to," he said. "It's a good team win. Got a couple runs early, a bit of a cushion and we were able to hold them off.Bell pitched the ninth for his career-high 43rd save in 46 chances. After Bell walked Matt Kemp, the Dodgers had the potential tying run at the plate, but Jay Gibbons and Casey Blake struck out to end the game."Heath has a knack of making us hold our breath, but we exhale," Padres manager Bud Black said. "If you ask him, he'd prefer to go 1-2-3."Ted Lilly (8-12) gave up three runs and eight hits, struck out eight and walked one to lose for the fourth time in his last five starts. The left-hander fell to 5-4 in 10 starts for the Dodgers, who acquired him from the Cubs at the trade deadline."It's frustrating when you lose, no matter how it happens. I felt like I made more than one mistake and I got away with them," he said. "It would be a lot easier to forget about some of the mistakes if we were piling up wins. We haven't won many games that I've pitched lately."The Padres scored three runs in the third. They tied the game 1-1 on shortstop Rafael Furcal's throwing error that allowed Chase Headley to score. James Loney, who had trouble handling the short hop, made a bad throw to the plate that allowed David Eckstein to advance to second base."That was a tough play," Black said. "The ball was in the hole and Furcal has such a good arm. I've seen him make that play. Loney tried to make the pick and it didn't happen."Eckstein scored on Tejada's eighth homer of the season, making it 3-1."That was a big blow for us," Black said. "Lilly was tough on us. We had the one inning and the big home run. Other than that, he pitched well."San Diego improved to 10-7 against the Dodgers heading into their final matchup on Thursday. The Padres have won nine of the last 11 against their rivals and six straight."As you get closer to the end, it's important you play sound and we did," Black said.The Dodgers led 1-0 in the second on a fielder's choice groundout by A.J. Ellis that scored Kemp, who doubled to lead off.That was the extent of their scoring one night after getting shut out 6-0 in the series opener and officially being eliminated from playoff contention.Los Angeles dropped six games under .500 for the first time since April 29."It's tough to look good when you get shut down like this. There's a great deal of frustration," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "They're easily frustrated to a point where they let that frustration take over, instead of the fight for the nine innings, and that's something that certainly shouldn't be."
Former Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda, who serves as special adviser to owner Frank McCourt, turned 83. "Sweet" Lou Johnson, whose Game 7 home run helped the Dodgers win the 1965 World Series against Minnesota, turned 76. ... Torre said Lilly, RHP Hiroki Kuroda and LHP Clayton Kershaw would be the starters at Colorado in the three-game series that begins Monday. ... RHP Cesar Carrillo was claimed off outright waivers by Houston after being designated for assignment by the Padres last Saturday. ... Bell is one save from tying Mark Davis' 44 saves in 1989 as the most by a Padres reliever other than franchise career leader Trevor Hoffman.