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LAD@SD: Volquez strikes out seven over five innings

SAN DIEGO -- It was a case of the flu that chased Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw from Thursday's game at Petco Park, not anything the Padres did to accelerate the exit of the defending National League Cy Young winner after just three scant innings.

San Diego manager Bud Black wasn't about to split hairs over the reason for Kershaw's departure, not with the incessant run of dominant starts he's had against San Diego ever since he wandered into the NL West.

"It's nice to get him out of the game," Black said. "The Cy Young winner is out with six more [innings left] ..."

In the end, it mattered little who was pitching, as the Padres scuffled defensively, on the mound and at the plate in a not-as-close-as-it-appeared 5-3 loss to the Dodgers in front of a sold-out crowd of 42,941 who were probably expecting more from a team that was essentially reshaped during the winter.

"We've got some things we'll clean up," said Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin, speaking in general terms of a day that went awry for a number of reasons.

The Padres, a team built firmly on run prevention the last few seasons, committed three errors and had five combined walks as a pitching staff, four by starter Edinson Volquez (0-1) in a vexing fourth inning that saw him lose his command as the Dodgers scored twice.

After opening the game by throwing 44 pitches over the first three innings, striking out five, Volquez got off track in the fourth and needed 34 pitches to get three outs. With one out, he allowed a single to Matt Kemp, who later hit a towering, two-run home run off rookie reliever Brad Brach.

Volquez then walked Andre Ethier and allowed a soft single to center field by Juan Rivera. Volquez, who issued 65 walks in 108 2/3 innings with the Reds in 2011 but showed better command during Spring Training, walked James Loney on a 3-1 pitch that was low to force in a run.

Two more walks in the inning followed, the last coming to Juan Uribe, allowing another run to score to make it 2-0.

"He was around the zone, and then in the fourth there were a couple of borderline pitches that didn't go his way," Black said. "He just couldn't find the key pitch to get him through the fourth."

The "borderline pitches" that Volquez was unsure of came on a 2-2 pitch to Rivera, a pitch that Volquez thought was good enough for a called third strike. The second questionable pitch, in his eyes, occurred when Volquez missed on a full-count pitch to Uribe.

"It was close, but I have got to look at the video," Volquez said. "I got lucky to get out of there with two runs."

Catcher Nick Hundley had a more succinct appraisal of the inning.

"The fourth inning isn't what beat us," he said. "We had our chances."

Just not a lot of them, even after Kershaw had retreated to the training room.

Los Angeles reliever Josh Lindblom (2-0) tossed two scoreless innings in relief of Kershaw, while reliever Mike MacDougal allowed one run and Kenley Jansen yielded a 445-foot, two-run home run to Maybin in the eighth inning.

"He hit that ball," Kemp said of Maybin. "He's a good dude with a lot of talent. Works hard."

The Padres, who scored more runs in Spring Training than any other team in baseball, had three hits in the first six innings and, as a team, finished with seven strikeouts.

"Their guys pitched well," Black said.

Maybe what was most amiss from Thursday's game was the Padres' defense. In 2011, they committed three or more errors in a game on four occasions. They managed to do that much Thursday. First it was left fielder Jesus Guzman, who was charged with an error when he had trouble retrieving a Kershaw hit from the corner in the third inning.

In the fifth inning, leadoff hitter Dee Gordon hit a fly ball to center field that glanced off of the bottom of Maybin's glove. Gordon made it to third base on the error. With the Padres infield pulled in on the grass with hopes of cutting down Gordon at the plate, Kemp hit a ball to the right of shortstop Jason Bartlett. The ball bounced off Bartlett's glove as Gordon scored easily.

"You see that happen," Black said of Guzman's play. "The other two were uncharacteristic."

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