Starts by Vargas, Rea, Pomeranz raise bar

Ramirez stretches hitting streak to 7 games

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

The three starting pitchers the Padres used in Los Angeles have thrown down a challenge for top-of-the-rotation starters James Shields and Andrew Cashner as the club returns to Petco Park on Monday night to open a seven-game homestand.

Right-handers Cesar Vargas and Colin Rea and left-hander Drew Pomeranz combined to hold the Dodgers to three runs on 11 hits and seven walks with 14 strikeouts in 18 1/3 innings.

That's a combined ERA of 1.47.

In his second Major League start Friday, the 24-year-old Vargas allowed four hits and three walks in 5 1/3 scoreless innings. Rea gave up two runs on four hits and three walks to get the win Saturday night. And Pomeranz allowed one run on three hits and a walk in seven innings Sunday afternoon while losing a pitchers' duel to Clayton Kershaw.

Before this season, Vargas had not made a start in professional baseball since 2013. He has a 0.87 ERA after two starts with the Padres since being promoted from Double-A San Antonio.

Pomeranz, 27, had made 49 starts in 107 career appearances before this season. He has a 2.48 ERA in five starts with the Padres.

And Rea, 25, has 11 Major League starts, including five this season. He has a 4.61 ERA.

Shields is 0-4 with a 3.55 ERA in five starts going into Monday night's series opener against the Rockies. He allowed one run on three hits over seven innings in his last outing in San Francisco.

Cashner (4.94 ERA) was charged with six runs (three earned) on four hits and four walks in just 2 2/3 innings in his last start in San Francisco. It was his shortest outing as a full-time starter.

Notes from the scorebook

• The substitutes for injured infielders Yangervis Solarte and Cory Spangenberg have struggled recently. Third baseman Adam Rosales was 0-for-7 the past two games at Dodger Stadium with six strikeouts. He did double and score on Travis Jankowski's suicide squeeze Friday night. He is 3-for-20 since April 23 to fall to .200. Second baseman Jemile Weeks is in a 2-for-16 slump to fall to .176.

• Shortstop Alexei Ramirez extended his hitting streak to seven games Sunday with the hit that also halted Clayton Kershaw's perfect game bid with two out in the fifth. Ramirez is 11-for-27 (.407) during his streak. Ramirez was thrown out trying to stretch his single into a double Sunday.

• Left fielder Melvin Upton Jr. is 2-for-15 in his last four games with 10 strikeouts. Upton is 6-for-33 since April 20 with 15 strikeouts as his average has fallen from .298 to .235. He has also drawn five walks.

• Two hits Saturday was only a temporary reprieve for catcher Derek Norris. He is 3-for-31 since April 22 with 11 strikeouts to see his average fall to .150.