<
>

Tomko, Dodgers send Padres to fifth straight loss

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Brett Tomko knows the San Diego Padres are
different from when he pitched for them in 2002. For that matter,
he sees little resemblance to last year's club.

It was still nice to turn things around against his former team.

Tomko pitched seven strong innings to end his recent woes
against his old club and the Los Angeles Dodgers handed the
run-starved Padres their fifth straight loss, 4-2 on Saturday
night.

"They're like a completely different ballclub," Tomko said.
"Still, they have some guys who have hit me pretty good. As far as
I'm concerned, if someone has a bat in his hands, he can do damage,
so I don't take anyone too lightly."

Tomko benefited from a running catch by J.D. Drew of a drive in
right-center for the final out in the fifth, denying Brian Giles an
RBI extra-base hit with the Padres holding a one-run lead.

"J.D. made a great play," Tomko said. "In my eyes, that can
change the game right there. If they get another run, it's 3-1, and
who knows what happens after that."

Tomko (3-1) allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings
against the Padres, who have scored only five runs during their
losing streak. A year ago, he allowed 12 earned runs in 10 2-3
innings over three starts against the Padres, going 0-1.

Drew also had an RBI single, and Nomar Garciaparra hit a solo
homer and added a sacrifice fly for the Dodgers.

The RBI single by Drew was the only hit in the two-run rally
that put the Dodgers ahead 3-2 in the sixth. With that, he also
extended his streak of reaching base safely to 33 games, dating to
June 16, and took his hitting streak to 11 games.

"It's all nice," said Drew, who started last season in a
0-for-25 slump. "It gives you a comfort level and lets you play
the game more relaxed. In turn, hopefully, I'll get better at-bats
every day."

As for his standout catch, Drew cited favorable conditions at
sizable Petco Park.

"You have the chance to run some balls down," Drew said. "It
also plays a lot different at night. The water (from the nearby
bay) comes into play, being as close as you are. It holds the ball
up a little bit."

To start the sixth, the Padres' Clay Hensley (1-2) issued
back-to-back walks to Rafael Furcal and Kenny Lofton. Drew then
singled and Jeff Kent followed with a sacrifice fly.

"The last thing that you want to do is walk people when you're
up in the ballgame," Hensley said. "When you walk guys like that,
it comes back to hurt you. It's one of the worst things that you
can do."

Hensley allowed three runs and three hits over seven innings in
his longest appearance in four career starts. His previous best was
5 1-3 innings in his last outing Sunday, a 7-4 victory over the New
York Mets -- also the Padres' last win.

Takashi Saito pitched the eighth and Danys Baez worked the ninth
for his eighth save in nine opportunities.

The Dodgers set down the last 15 San Diego batters in a row.

In the fourth, the Padres took the lead for the first time in
five games when they moved ahead 2-1 with a two-run rally that
included a RBI triple by Mark Bellhorn, batting cleanup in a
revised lineup.

Mike Cameron broke an 0-for-13 slump with a one-out single and
scored on Bellhorn's triple to the right-field fence. Adrian
Gonzalez added a sacrifice fly.

"We played pretty good baseball," Padres catcher Doug
Mirabelli said. "It's hard to get something going. We're so
sporadic right now."

The Dodgers opened the scoring when Garciaparra hit a solo drive
for his second homer of the season with two out in the fourth.
Heading in, he was in a 2-for-15 slump on the road trip, but that
did include a grand slam at Houston on Monday.

Garciaparra hit his sacrifice fly in the eighth off Scott
Linebrink.

Game notes
Dodgers closer Eric Gagne did well tossing the ball in the
start of a throwing program in his recovery from right elbow
surgery on April 1, said manager Grady Little, who watched the
workout along with general manager Ned Colletti. The Dodgers plan
to bring Gagne back gradually, Little said. ... In his only two
other starts, Bellhorn batted in the eighth spot. Also, Giles moved
from third in the order to second. ... With a first-inning single,
Giles ended a streak of 20 straight Padres batters retired. ...
Padres LHP Shawn Estes is scheduled to begin rehabilitation on
Thursday from a strained left elbow suffered on April 6.