Padilla struck out six in the Dodgers' 7-0 win over the Cubs at Dodger Stadium, giving the Dodgers three wins in their four-game series with Chicago and a final victory before the All-Star break. A confidence-booster or not, the win pulled the Dodgers into a tie with the Rockies for second place in the National League West behind the Padres, who lead by two games.
Padilla is 3-1 with a 1.57 ERA and opposing hitters have managed just a .172 average over his last four starts. Using his Eephus pitch again on Sunday, Padilla was the best he's been all season, holding the Cubs hitless for the first five innings and walking only Aramis Ramirez on five pitches in the second inning.
That was his only walk, and his fastball control was on point all game.
"I had a good location on my fastball and that's what's mainly working for me," Padilla said of his longest start since May 2009. Of his 106 pitches, 75 were strikes.
That's why the seventh inning was off-color. The Dodgers had a 6-0 lead after the second, keyed by a James Loney three-run home run in the first. Cruising in the seventh, Padilla let up a leadoff double to Ryan Theriot. On his second pitch to Cubs center fielder Marlon Byrd, Padilla buried a fastball into his back, to the left of the "2" in his No. 24.
Byrd took a dramatically long time to reach first base, smiling as he trudged. But he made no move toward the mound, according to Dodgers catcher Russell Martin.
Byrd was Padilla's teammate in Philadelphia from 2002 to 2005, and then again in Texas from 2007 until August 2009, when the Rangers designated Padilla for assignment. On his way out, Padilla was depicted as a bad teammate by Rangers GM Jon Daniels, and Byrd added to the conversation.
"About time," Byrd told The Dallas Morning News. "It's absolutely a positive for this team. We have to get rid of the negatives to make a positive, and I believe this is a huge positive for this team."
The fastball that found Byrd's back sure looked like retaliation, although Padilla and Martin denied it.
"I played with him for three years in Texas and I don't know why he reacted that way," the pitcher said. "And I also played with him Philadelphia."
"He didn't say anything, but he got smoked in the back, 96, it didn't feel good," Martin said.
Reporters asked if the two got along.
"Yes, yes," Padilla said.
Did he know what Byrd said about him after he was out the door?
"I don't really read the papers, I just care about what I have to do the next day," Padilla said. "I don't really read the papers."
It wasn't exactly a straight denial.
"When a guy's throwing a two-hit shutout and he's pinpoint all day long, and you get hit with a four-seamer, you have to question it sometimes," said Byrd, who also said he and Padilla were friends. "That's why I looked at it and smiled. Whether he did it or not, you have to ask him."
The Cubs got their revenge in the bottom of the eighth. Blake DeWitt took a first-pitch fastball in the thigh from rookie Andrew Cashner, who had just entered the game. DeWitt took first base without a peep, and home-plate umpire Jerry Layne issued a requisite warning.
"I think so, yeah," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said of the intent. "Because I think a guy who didn't throw as hard was throwing in the bullpen and they changed to a guy who throws. Pretty good indication that that was going to be the case, yeah."
"He's a great teammate," Byrd said of Cashner. "You have to love him. He had pinpoint accuracy, too."
Considering Padilla started the plunkings and Cubs starter Carlos Silva was ejected in the second inning, the Dodgers had little to complain about. Seven of the nine Dodgers starters had a hit, including Padilla.
Loney hit his sixth homer of the season to right off Silva with one out in the bottom of the first, and his run-scoring single in the second brought his RBI total to 63 in 84 games. That's the most a Dodgers player has had before the All-Star break since Shawn Green (68) in 2002.
That single in the second, though, came with some controversy, too. Loney grounded to first and Xavier Nady fielded the ball deep behind the bag. In a footrace with Nady because Silva didn't cover, Loney was ruled safe. It was the second close play at first that inning that had gone the Dodgers way, and Silva was ejected by first-base umpire Brian Runge. He allowed six runs on six hits and three walks in 1 1/3 innings.
"I honestly didn't look [at replays] because I knew he was out on both," Nady said of the two plays.
The Dodgers got the benefit of another Runge call, where Loney's foot briefly came off the bag, to start the eighth.
"I don't know, I didn't look at any of them," Loney said. "I think I heard there were some grumblings."
There were grumblings in a lot places Sunday, except from DeWitt. Preparing to go home to Sikeston, Mo., for the All-Star break while four of his teammates take in the All-Star Game, DeWitt took first base as cordially as can be after Cashner got him.
"I knew that it was [on purpose]," he said. "That's part of it, that's baseball."
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.