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Chad Billingsley Tries To Win Series For Dodgers Against Padres

(Sports Network) - The San Diego Padres made an effort to improve their offense at the trade deadline, but the team hasn't received much return on its investment in its last two games against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Still clinging to first place in the competitive National League West, the Padres hope their bats can come back to life and help them earn a split of a four-game series with the homestanding Dodgers that concludes tonight.

San Diego had little trouble scoring runs in a 10-5 rout of Los Angeles in Monday's opener of this set, but the club has been shut down in losing the two most recent matchups. After mustering just three hits in Ted Lilly's Dodgers debut to drop a 2-1 decision on Tuesday, the Padres generated even less against Vicente Padilla in last night's 9-0 setback.

Padilla (5-3) took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and yielded just a pair of singles in registering his fourth career shutout. The veteran right-hander also walked just two and fanned nine San Diego hitters in a 105-pitch masterpiece.

"He's got the rare ability to throw that curveball with that arm speed," Padres manager Bud Black said of Padilla. "It was all about Padilla tonight."

The Dodgers gave their starter plenty of support as well, with Andre Ethier leading the charge with a 3-for-5 performance capped by a two-run homer in the eighth inning. Scott Podsednik and Ryan Theriot, two players acquired by Los Angeles in deadline deals last week, each knocked in a pair of runs with a single and double, respectively.

Los Angeles scored four times in San Diego starter Wade LeBlanc's 6 1/3-inning stint, then broke the game open with five runs off reliever Edward Mujica in the eighth.

The Padres have now dropped four of their last six contests and have had their lead atop the NL West reduced to one game over second-place San Francisco. The Dodgers have now won two straight following a six-game losing streak and trail the Giants by six games for the top spot in the league's Wild Card race.

San Diego may have a hard time ending its collective slump in tonight's finale, considering how well Dodgers scheduled starter Chad Billingsley has pitched of late. The 2009 All-Star has not surrendered a run in any of his last three assignments and has allowed a paltry 10 hits in a combined 21 2/3 innings over that outstanding stretch.

Billingsley began his roll by firing a five-hit shutout to best San Francisco July 21 at Dodger Stadium, then tossed six scoreless innings in a 2-0 victory over the Padres at Petco Park on July 27. The stocky right-hander gave up a mere two hits in 6 2/3 innings of work against the Giants last Saturday, but left with that game still scoreless.

The former first-round pick also stymied the Padres in San Diego back on May 16, hurling 7 1/3 shutout frames to lead Los Angeles to a 1-0 win, and sports an excellent 10-4 record and a 2.36 earned run average in 20 games (16 starts) versus tonight's opponent.

In contrast, San Diego's Kevin Correia enters tonight's assignment seeking to avenge a pair of losses to the Dodgers earlier this year. The right-hander was reached for four runs in 5 1/3 innings in a May 15 setback at Petco Park, then permitted four runs in six frames five days later at Dodger Stadium to be dealt another defeat.

Correia is also coming off a losing effort this past Saturday against Florida, which touched him for three runs and a pair of homers in six innings. He had posted back-to-back wins over Arizona and Pittsburgh in his first two starts following the All-Star break, though, and registered a solid 3.90 ERA in five outings during the month of July.

For his career, Correia is 4-3 with a 4.66 ERA in 23 appearances against Los Angeles, nine of which have come in a starting role.

The Padres have struggled in this year's season series with the Dodgers as well, having dropped seven of 11 meetings between the divisional foes. San Diego did take two of three games from Los Angeles when the teams met at Petco Park last week, however.