"We've been past that point, in my mind," Torre said after watching Oscar Salazar deliver a pinch-hit single with one out in the ninth inning to give the NL West-leading Padres a 3-2 victory over the Dodgers on Thursday to take two of three games.
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"They play very well in games like this," Torre said. "They are a scrappy group. They play hard. You have to take them seriously, knowing how important pitching is."
The third-place Dodgers fell seven games behind the Padres, who lead the second-place San Francisco Giants by 3½ games. At 60-40, San Diego moved to a season-high 20 games above .500
When the Dodgers visited Petco Park in mid-May, they outpitched the Padres for a three-game sweep. With the exception of Chad Billingsley's effort in a 2-0 Dodgers win in the opener of this series on Tuesday night, the Padres outpitched the Dodgers.
"I know a lot has been said how they kind of took care of us last time, but really, a lot was them," Jerry Hairston Jr. said. "They pitched really, really well. But we've pitched well, too. We're a team that really doesn't get too down. We just fight every inning."
The teams will meet again in a four-game series at Dodger Stadium starting Monday night.
Hairston's younger brother, Scott, started the winning rally with a broken-bat single down the left-field line off George Sherrill (1-2). He was sacrificed to second by Tony Gwynn Jr. Salazar hit a full-count pitch up the middle past diving second baseman Jamey Carroll and into center field, scoring Hairston.
"I made an adjustment and hit the ball good, up the middle," Salazar said.
"Oscar's the type of hitter that he doesn't scare off," manager Bud Black said. "He's always ready to hit. He's one of those guys that cannot get at-bats for a number of days and still give you a quality at-bat. He's suited for the role he fills on this team."
Heath Bell (5-0) pitched a perfect ninth for the win.
Padres ace Mat Latos was gone after five innings, his shortest outing in eight starts. He allowed two runs, one earned, and two hits, struck out seven and walked three.
The Dodgers had five runs and 12 hits in the three games.
"We need to start hitting," Torre said. "We're fighting and scratching and playing hard. But we're having too many lousy offensive innings and putting too much pressure on our pitching staff. We need to break out and score some runs. We need to generate some pressure on the opposing pitchers and we haven't done that."
Latos twice allowed the Dodgers to tie the game. He gave up James Loney's homer leading off the second on a 1-1 pitch, his eighth, making it 1-1.
The 22-year-old right-hander, who was trying for his 12th win, allowed an unearned run in the fifth. After walking Carroll and Brad Ausmus, sandwiched around a strikeout of Blake DeWitt, Latos allowed a single to left by pinch-hitter Garrett Anderson. Hairston, the left fielder, committed an error on the play, allowing Carroll to score and tied the game at 2. Ausmus was thrown out at home trying to score on Scott Podsednik's grounder to first.
Dodgers starter Vicente Padilla lasted four innings, allowing two runs and four hits, with five strikeouts and two walks.
Podsednik batted leadoff and played center field in his Dodgers debut, a day after being obtained from the Kansas City Royals. He went 0 for 3 with a walk.Notes
- Black said he was encouraged with a strong bullpen session by reliever Mike Adams , who's on the DL with a strained muscle in his left side. Black said Adams will likely throw a simulated game rather than go on a rehab assignment.
- The Dodgers designated reliever LHP Jack Taschner for assignment to make room for Podsednik.
- Torre said Chad Billingsley will start Saturday at San Francisco on three days' rest. He threw six scoreless innings in a 2-0 win over the Padres on Tuesday night.
- The crowd of 42,075 gave the Padres their fifth sellout. Four of the sellouts have been against the Dodgers. The other was their home opener against Atlanta.
- San Diego improved the franchise record at home to 1,656-1,656 all-time, reaching .500 at home for the first time since they were 8-8 on May 17, 1969, their expansion season.
- San Diego's bullpen extended its scoreless streak to 19 1/3 innings.