LOS ANGELES -- The much-anticipated matchup between Brad Penny and Jake Peavy certainly lived up to its hype on Saturday, although each pitcher was long gone by the time another National League West Division nail-biter finally ended. When it did, when Jose Cruz Jr. hit an RBI double in the 12th inning, part of a two-run uprising, the Padres were able to celebrate a 3-1 victory over the Dodgers before a crowd of 53,769. "In a lot of ways, we're similar," Padres manager Bud Black said. "They're pitching is very solid like ours. ... They have some young players. The two teams in a lot of ways are alike."
Except for, of course, when you look at the results, as San Diego (46-33) has defeated the Dodgers (45-36) seven times in 11 meetings this season, including the last five. The game started with talk of Penny vs. Peavy, two pitchers who have been dominant this season. They didn't disappoint. The aces' pitching lines were almost identical. Peavy went seven innings and allowed five hits with one walk and six strikeouts. Penny also yielded five hits and one walk but finished with seven strikeouts. Peavy allowed only one hit over the first 4 1/3 innings before Nomar Garciaparra -- after fouling off four consecutive pitches in a 10-pitch at-bat -- hit a home run to center field. The home run was only the second Peavy has allowed this season and broke his streak of 84 1/3 consecutive innings without allowing a long ball. "I didn't want to walk him," Peavy said. "I threw him some 3-2 sliders, fastballs and cutters. It was down and away [the home run]. I knew after the home run I couldn't give up anymore. Good hitters are going to get you sometimes." If St. Louis manager Tony La Russa -- who is also the manager of the National League's All-Star team -- wanted Penny or Peavy to pull away from the other, it didn't happen. Who will start the game? Who knows? "I'm glad I don't have to [decide]," Black said, smiling. "But I know who I would pick." Black was certainly talking about Peavy, who lowered his ERA to 2.09, though he was denied for the second time a shot at his 10th victory of the season. But Black could well have been talking about his bullpen. Heath Bell, Scott Linebrink, Cla Meredith, Royce Ring and Trevor Hoffman combined for five scoreless innings in relief of Peavy, allowing just one hit with four strikeouts. It was Ring, who got the last out of the 11th inning, who earned his first Major League win. For Hoffman, he earned his 23rd save and second in as many nights against the Dodgers. "Been doing it all year," Black said. "The consistency of the bullpen and the job they've done speaks for itself." The Padres made a winner of Ring when Khalil Greene singled to center field and moved to second base when Kevin Kouzmanoff dropped down a sacrifice bunt against Dodgers relief pitcher Brett Tomko (1-6). Cruz then dropped a single in front of a hard-charging Luis Gonzalez. The Padres added another run in the inning off Tomko on Geoff Blum's RBI double down the right-field line. "Not again," Cruz said. "Every inning after the ninth inning gets more and more on your nerves. ... I'm glad we were able to score those two runs to end what could have been a super marathon with a day game the next day." Penny got off to slightly rocky start, allowing consecutive doubles to Mike Cameron and Josh Bard to start the second inning. Bard's hit scored Cameron, though the Padres could not chase Bard home with a hit. In the fourth inning, Cameron doubled and Bard's single sent him to third base. But Bard was thrown out at second base on what was a botched hit-and-run play. Penny got Greene and Kouzmanoff on strikeouts to end the inning. The Padres wasted another scoring opportunity in the eighth inning when Brian Giles -- who doubled to start the inning -- was stranded there after Marcus Giles flied out to right field and Adrian Gonzalez and Cameron struck out. Bard started the ninth inning with a walk but pinch-runner Hiram Bocachica was quickly erased on the bases when Dodgers catcher Russell Martin threw him out attempting to steal second base on a pitchout.
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.