Quality start is cold comfort for Lilly in loss
Lefty fans eight in seven innings, but LA musters just three hits
LOS ANGELES -- One bad pitch and it didn't matter to Ted Lilly that this was a quality start and could have been a victory if he played for a team that could score.
But he plays for the Dodgers and the two-run homer he allowed to Miguel Tejada on Wednesday night was enough for the Padres to beat the Dodgers, 3-1, and move back into first place in the National League West.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers were limited to three hits (two by Andre Ethier) and fell 12 1/2 games out, a season low. They also matched a low by falling six games below .500 and have lost six straight to San Diego.
"It's tough to look good when you get shut down like this," said outgoing manager Joe Torre. "There's a great deal of frustration. We let the frustration take over instead of fighting for nine innings. That certainly shouldn't be."
There's plenty of work to be done to get the Dodgers straightened out in time for next season, and probably at the top of the list is a veteran starting pitcher to shepherd the young tandem of Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.
That's why Lilly is on the short list of upcoming free agents the Dodgers want to re-sign. Other than saying he's enjoyed his two-month stay and would be happy to extend it a few years, he didn't want to talk about next year when he was still struggling to finish this one.
"It's frustrating when you lose, no matter how it is," said Lilly, who has lost his last four decisions after winning his first five as a Dodger. "I felt I made more than one mistake."
Lilly struck out eight in seven innings, but it's all about location. He isn't overpowering, and when he leaves a pitch over the plate, as he did with Tejada, he usually doesn't get away with it. After allowing four home runs in the five wins, he's been taken deep eight times in the next five starts. Tejada has two of the 12 homers Lilly has allowed as a Dodger.
Tejada's home run -- the 300th of his career -- followed a double-error by the Dodgers' defense. With two outs and Chase Headley on second base, shortstop Rafael Furcal pulled James Loney off first base for one error after fielding David Eckstein's grounder into the hole. An off-balance Loney threw wild to the plate for the second error as Headley scored.
"It was a nice milestone for Miggy," said San Diego manager Bud Black. "He got one off Lilly in the last series [in August]. It was a good swing on a fastball. Lilly was tough on us, with some strikeouts."
"Lilly was great," said Torre. "He located his pitches well. The pitch to Tejada just got too much of the plate. But that's the pressure we're putting on our starter by not scoring and not giving him room to breathe."
Tejada, who came into the game 11-for-48 off Lilly, had three hits, as many as the entire Dodgers offense. The Dodgers have scored five runs in Lilly's last three starts. In this game, the only run they scored came on an out. Including his first four months with the Cubs, Lilly has received an average of just 2.82 runs of support per nine innings, the lowest mark in the Major Leagues this season.
Meanwhile, Tim Stauffer (5-4) scattered three hits over six innings for the win.
"It's never good when you get eliminated and you still got to play," Loney said about his team's frustration.
Matt Kemp gave the Dodgers an early advantage, leading off the second inning with a double, tagging to third on Jay Gibbons' drive to the warning track in center, and after a walk to Casey Blake, Kemp scored on A.J. Ellis' fielder's choice forceout.
Rookie Kenley Jansen threw a scoreless inning for the Dodgers, lowering his ERA to 0.79. Right-handed hitters are 3-for-43 against him. Jonathan Broxton pitched a scoreless inning, which ended by retiring nemesis Matt Stairs on a groundout.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.