LOS ANGELES -- Woody Williams muscled one pitch after another at the Los Angeles Dodgers. His location was off, causing him to fall behind in the count.
Still, Williams threw key pitches when he needed them and held the Dodgers hitless through five innings, helping the San Diego Padres to a 3-1 victory Friday night.
Williams (8-11) allowed one run and two hits in 5 2/3 innings, struck out six and walked five for his second consecutive win and only his second in 11 starts.
"It was kind of a strange night," he said. "I threw a lot of balls that weren't very close, but I threw some good ones, too. I was fortunate that none of the walks really hurt me. Usually that's a big problem for me."
Ramon Hernandez homered in a three-run fourth and the Padres won their third in a row to remain seven games ahead of San Francisco in the NL West.
"We've been grinding and playing a little bit better as of late," Williams said. "It's very important that we get consistent right now."
The Dodgers dropped into fourth place behind Arizona by a percentage point.
"We have two more days and we have to look at it as though tomorrow and Sunday are games that we have to win," manager Jim Tracy said.
Williams' no-hit bid was broken up in the sixth with Jeff Kent's one-out single to left field on Williams' 99th pitch. After retiring Olmedo Saenz, the right-hander gave up a run-scoring single to Jose Cruz Jr., making it 3-1, and was replaced by Rudy Seanez.
"I'd rather give up a hit than all those walks," Williams said. "It does no one good. It puts the defense on their heels. When you do need to make a play, it may hinder your chances of getting out of an inning."
Jason Phillips singled off Seanez, putting runners at first and third, but Seanez retired Dioner Navarro on a fly to right to end the inning.
"We got a number of hits last year with two outs in some big situations, and two-out base hits with runners in scoring position can make a heck of a difference with any ballclub," Tracy said. "We just haven't even, in my opinion, gotten our fair share of those. We haven't been able to come up with big hits consistently."
Seanez pitched one inning, Chris Hammond retired the last out in the seventh and Akinori Otsuka worked the eighth. Trevor Hoffman induced Jayson Werth to foul out with two men on to finish the five-hitter and earn his 37th save, including 34th in a row.
"It's nice to start this trip like this," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "We had some good at-bats to get the walks."
The Padres took a 3-0 lead in the fourth. Hernandez led off with a homer off D.J. Houlton (5-9). Houlton retired the next two batters before giving up three consecutive hits, including run-scoring doubles to Ben Johnson and Mark Loretta.
"You can put all the blame on my shoulders," Houlton said. "I was just throwing way too many pitches all night and I couldn't get ahead of guys. I feel like I let everyone down. I had two outs when two of those runs came in. It's real disappointing."
San Diego loaded the bases in the first and second, but Houlton escaped the jams by getting grounders to end both innings.
"I felt like I was going after them enough, but I was just missing my spots," he said.
Houlton gave up five runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings, walked five and struck out one in losing his second in a row.
RHP Clay Hensley will start for San Diego on Saturday. ... The Padres have never had a no-hitter. ... Williams improved to 3-4 on the road. ... San Diego RF Brian Giles walked twice and has 103 -- tops in the majors. ... Friday was the 40th anniversary of the only perfect game by a Dodger in franchise history. Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax retired all 27 Chicago Cubs on Sept. 9, 1965, and Lou Johnson had the only hit and run in a 1-0 victory at Dodger Stadium.