Dodgers loss to Padres sparks changes

Dodgers loss to Padres sparks changes

SAN DIEGO -- Jeff Kent was activated, Eric Gagne disabled, Chad Billingsley promoted, Joel Guzman demoted, Odalis Perez moved to the 'pen and Jae Seo injured on Tuesday night.

Oh, and the Dodgers were blown out by the San Diego Padres, 9-1.

Just another day in first place for the Dodgers, who share the top spot again with the Arizona Diamondbacks after a rough night at PETCO Park.

"Everything changes every day," general manager Ned Colletti said before Tuesday night's game. "We've all witnessed it. Untold things have happened this season that I had no chance to predict."

At the time, Colletti was referring to the infield jam that will be created by the imminent return of shortstop Cesar Izturis from an injury rehab assignment and, wouldn't you know it, Rafael Furcal added to those things a few hours later. Izturis' replacement committed two errors that caused four unearned runs in the bottom of the first inning, and the Dodgers never recovered.

After the game, Colletti decided the youth movement was working so well, he'd bring up another 21-year-old. Billingsley, the top pitching prospect in the organization, will start Thursday, bumping a stunned Perez to the bullpen and a sour 21-year-old Guzman farther than that, all the way back to Triple-A Las Vegas.

"I shut my mouth and not say nothing," said Perez, sent back to long relief after a one-start reprieve.

"I have nothing to say," said Guzman, who hit .211 in two weeks of intermittent action.

Billingsley is a first-round draft pick out of high school in 2003, was 6-3 for Las Vegas with a 3.95 ERA, 78 strikeouts in 70 1/3 innings, averaging 5 1/3 innings per start. He hasn't been truly dominant this year, dogged by high pitch counts, but he's being promoted anyway because management has lost confidence in Perez and Seo, who each allowed a home run on Tuesday night.

"We've had good success with young players," Colletti said. "Who here thought Matt Kemp was ready? There's no hard-and-fast rule that dictates it. You always get the real answer in hindsight.

"His pitch count has been up there, but a lot of times, that's just hitters fouling off pitches they can't put in play. But the timing is really perfect. I've gotten to know him a little and talked to people who know him. With his makeup, I don't see it as a detriment."

Inserting Billingsley as Thursday's starter pushes Brett Tomko back a day to Friday night in Oakland, with Derek Lowe pitching on Saturday night and Aaron Sele on Sunday. And it gives Colletti six weeks before the trade deadline to determine if Billingsley is ready for prime time or a trade is necessary.

Izturis would be the likely trade bait, although his Gold Glove would have come in handy at shortstop on Tuesday night. Although undermined by Furcal's errors, Sele wasn't sharp in his start, walking five after making six consecutive quality starts since his promotion from Triple-A.

"It was just location," said Sele, charged with five runs, but only one earned because of the errors. "I wasn't able to jump ahead of the hitters and that makes it tough. A starting pitcher has to keep the game close, and I wasn't able to do that."

He allowed a three-run double to Vinny Castilla that center fielder Kenny Lofton was unable to run down after Furcal's second error and a double and triple to Mike Cameron, who also hit a three-run homer off Seo.

Once the fifth starter, there's no telling what will become of Seo, who allowed those three runs in the fifth inning and couldn't get past warmups for the sixth inning, leaving with a tender shoulder and was visibly angry when he reached the dugout. Little said a doctor's examination "found nothing."

Although the tone of the game was set by Furcal's miscues, Little came to the defense of his shortstop after he made a throwing error on Cameron's one-out grounder and a fielding error on Khalil Greene's two-out sharp grounder.

"If I get better position, I make the play," said Furcal, who already has 15 errors in 61 games. Furcal made 15 errors in 152 games last season. When Izturis won the Gold Glove in 2004, he committed 10 errors the entire season.

On the first error, Furcal seemed to be watching the runner instead of focusing on first base while he threw. On the second error, his footwork didn't get him in front of the ball toward the hole.

"The second error was the result of thinking about the first one," said Little. "The guy's done a good job for us."

Former Dodgers Chan Ho Park, Dave Roberts, Eric Young and Mike Piazza contributed on Tuesday -- Park allowed one run in six innings for the win, Roberts robbed a hit from Nomar Garciaparra with a highlight grab, Young had a pinch-hit homer off Perez and Piazza walked twice, scored a run and had a sacrifice fly.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.