Aaron Harang shuts down Padres as Dodgers offense goes strong

SAN DIEGO -- Aaron Harang's second visit to his hometown this season was much better than the first.

Harang held his former team to four hits in seven shutout innings and had one of Los Angeles' 12 hits as the Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 8-1 Thursday night to split a two-game series.

Harang (3-2) struck out six and walked none to beat the Padres for the first time in three starts against them this year. On April 13 in Los Angeles, Harang set a Dodgers record with nine consecutive strikeouts, one short of the major league mark, and tied his career high with 13. He got a no-decision in the 9-8 victory.

Harang lost 8-4 at San Diego on April 8 as the Padres avoided a four-game sweep. Harang was with his hometown Padres last year, leading them with 14 victories. The Padres didn't try to keep him after the season and he signed with Los Angeles.

"The Dodgers were one of the first teams to call, and I felt watching the way they played last year, from the first of the year to the end of the year, you saw a big difference in how they were playing and the attitude and demeanor of all the players and how aggressive they were," Harang said. "I felt they had a good enough squad that they could really compete with a couple extra pieces."

Harang is pitching much better than he was during the Dodgers' first visit here.

"It was frustrating because I was coming off such a good spring and I think there was a lot of adrenaline coming into it, being the first time back, so I was a little off mechanically," Harang said.

Still, manager Don Mattingly wasn't surprised by Harang's performance Thursday night.

"To me, he's been throwing the ball good lately," Mattingly said. "I kind of expected him to throw good tonight."

The Dodgers (25-13), who have the best record in the majors, are 1-2 since Matt Kemp went on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.

The Padres (14-25), who have the worst record in the NL, still haven't won three straight games this season. They came in having won at Washington on Tuesday and against the Dodgers on Wednesday. San Diego committed two more errors and has 39, second-most in the majors.

Harang was 0-5 in his previous seven starts against San Diego. His last victory against the Padres was July 30, 2005, at Petco Park while with Cincinnati.

"You have to give credit to Aaron Harang," said San Diego's John Baker, who had two doubles. "I don't know how many three-ball counts he had, but it wasn't many. He was throwing strikes and making us swing the bats. When we hit it, it seemed like they were always in the right spot."

Every Dodgers regular except leadoff batter Dee Gordon had at least one hit. Gordon had a sacrifice fly.

"We just seemed to have more energy tonight," Mattingly said.

The Dodgers kept Edinson Volquez (2-2) from winning three straight starts for the first time since May 7-18, 2008, with Cincinnati.

Bobby Abreu hit an RBI triple in the first and Andre Ethier followed with a run-scoring single. Ethier leads the NL with 35 RBIs.

Gordon had a sacrifice fly in the second. James Loney hit an RBI double in the fifth and another run scored on a two-base error by center fielder Cameron Maybin. Mark Ellis and Harang singled in runs in the seventh, and Ellis brought in another run with a groundout in the ninth.

Volquez allowed five runs, three earned, and seven hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked three.

Game notes
Padres LF James Darnell sustained a partial dislocation of his left shoulder diving for Tony Gwynn Jr.'s double in the sixth. He was replaced by Chris Denorfia. ... With a walk in the first, Dodgers C A.J. Ellis extended his streak of reaching base safely to 26 games, the second-longest active run in baseball. ... The Padres shook up their struggling middle infield by waiving second baseman Orlando Hudson and placing light-hitting shortstop Jason Bartlett on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right knee. The team recalled shortstop Everth Cabrera and second baseman Alexi Amarista from Triple-A Tucson, and both were in the lineup. ... The Padres also claimed left-hander Eric Stults off waivers from the Chicago White Sox, with a corresponding move to be made when he reports to San Diego. ... The Dodgers open a three-game homestand against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night, with Ted Lilly (5-0, 2.11 ERA) scheduled to start against Lance Lynn (6-1, 1.81). ... The Padres open a three-game set against the Angels, with Jered Weaver (5-1, 2.83) slated to start for Los Angeles against Jeff Suppan (2-1, 1.69).