Perfect 'pen helps McCarthy earn win No. 2

Perfect 'pen helps McCarthy earn win No. 2

LOS ANGELES -- Brandon McCarthy won his second consecutive start after returning from Tommy John surgery, with the Dodgers bullpen finishing off the final four spotless innings of a three-hitter and a 4-3 win over the Padres on Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.

"It felt very weird and it was a struggle, but at least I'm happy to get through five [innings], keep the game close and give the offense and bullpen a chance to win it," said McCarthy, who had surgery April 29 of last year.

The Dodgers broke a 3-3 tie in the fifth inning when Justin Turner disrupted a potential double-play with his slide into second base, causing San Diego shortstop Alexei Ramirez to make an errant throw to first base that allowed Corey Seager to score from second. San Diego challenged that the slide was illegal, but the original call was confirmed.

"It's a very difficult rule to ascertain how they're going to call it," Padres manager Andy Green said. "I frankly feel like I've seen plays like that called violations. ... It's a borderline flip of the coin for us."

Seager scores, call confirmed

The Padres jumped out to a first-inning lead with a two-run homer by Yangervis Solarte off McCarthy. The Dodgers scored an unearned run in the first on Adrian Gonzalez's RBI double and took a 3-2 lead in the fourth on Howie Kendrick's two-run double off Luis Perdomo. San Diego tied the game in the fifth on Travis Jankowski's RBI single.

Jankowski's RBI single

Dodgers starters have lasted five innings or fewer in 12 of the past 17 games, and no starter other than Clayton Kershaw has pitched as many as seven innings since May 14.

"I've asked a lot of them, but to a man they've responded," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of his relievers. "We're looking forward to getting to the break and resetting."

McCarthy threw five scoreless innings in his debut six days earlier, but this time Roberts lifted him because he lacked the sharpness of the first start.

"He'll remain in the rotation after the break, but today everything he threw he didn't have command of as far as consistency or rhythm," Roberts said. "Where he was at and what I saw, I just felt we can find four innings to keep those guys at bay. It wasn't a pitch-count thing for me, just the best chance of winning when I see there's no command."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bullpen to the rescue again: With McCarthy limited to five innings again, Roberts turned to the bullpen with the lowest ERA in the league. Casey Fien, Chris Hatcher, Adam Liberatore, Joe Blanton and Kenley Jansen retired the final 12 batters, eight by strikeout. Liberatore struck out both batters he faced, and he set the franchise record with his 24th consecutive scoreless appearance.

Liberatore sets franchise record

"What those guys have done in this spot is really special," said Roberts. "Those guys are prepared, they take care of themselves. I'm trying to keep track of their usage while trying to win baseball games." More >

Solarte squares one up: Before he had even taken the mound, Perdomo was spotted an early lead when Solarte hit a home run to put the Padres up, 2-0. The homer was Solarte's eighth of the year and the first runs allowed by McCarthy since his return from the DL.

Despite loss, Perdomo settling into groove

"First pitch, he threw a sinker. The second one didn't move as much," Solarte said through an interpreter. " I was ready for that and I was just trying to make hard contact. I was looking for that pitch and he made it."

Puig goes full-extension: Protecting a one-run lead in the seventh inning, Chris Hatcher was saved when Yasiel Puig made an incredible diving catch of Alexei Ramirez's sinking line drive to right field.

Must C: Puig's diving grab

Fair or foul: The slide rule wasn't the only ruling that Green chafed at. Perdomo was looking strong until the Dodgers' rally in the fourth inning, which brought Kendrick up with the bases loaded. Kendrick hit a hard grounder down the third-base line to score two, but the ball was close enough to the line for Green to think it might have been foul. He didn't challenge, but he did have an extended discussion with third-base umpire Gerry Davis.

Solarte, who was playing third base, said after the game he thought it was foul, but said he understood that Davis had a different perspective.

WHAT'S NEXT
Padres: Christian Friedrich will take the mound at Dodger Stadium for a 1:10 p.m. PT game, trying to reverse some recent struggles as the Padres enter the All-Star break and San Diego prepares for the All-Star Game festivities. The southpaw has allowed at least four earned runs in his last four starts and lasted just 3 1/3 innings in his last time out against the Dodgers.

Dodgers: Kenta Maeda wraps up the first half with a start against San Diego. He is 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two starts against the Padres this year, but he's only 2-5 at Dodger Stadium and he is coming off a four-inning losing start at home against Baltimore, chased by a Manny Machado three-run homer.

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Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles. He covered the Padres on Saturday.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.