Greinke said this was his best start as a Dodger -- one run on four hits in eight innings with eight strikeouts. Combined with power from the middle of the order, it stirred memories of the offseason master plan that has so far gone awry.
"It's what we're capable of," manager Don Mattingly said. "We just have to put it out there consistently and gain confidence as a club."
Mattingly concedes that losing takes a toll on the confidence of any club, even one with a $225 million payroll.
"When you don't win and you sit there looking at last place in the standings and you're not putting runs up consistently and the clubhouse doesn't have [post-victory] music, to me, that hurts confidence," the manager said. "It's like not getting hits: I don't care who you are, you lose confidence. It doesn't mean you don't believe in your team. Look at Toronto. They struggle, struggle, struggle ... the next thing you know they put up 10 in a row. Ten days ago, they didn't feel like that."
Getting a dominant game from Greinke set the tone for this game, as apparently communication between the pitcher and Quentin after the brawl dialed down the animosity. There were no incidents, nothing close to a brushback pitch, and Quentin went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.
"Today was just a little bit too much Greinke," said San Diego manager Bud Black.
Greinke said he wasn't any more motivated for this start because of the anticipated Quentin rematch, or because the Dodgers just needed a win.
"I don't think much about it. It seems you guys do," Greinke said of the supposed feud with Quentin. "Any time you try to do something along those lines [of carrying a team], it usually backfires. I try not to think of that, of trying to carry the team on your back. It takes more than one. We've been struggling. We've got to put together a 10-game streak to get back into it. We definitely can, and more than likely we will."
Greinke (4-2) reflected an adjustment in his between-starts preparation, because he felt improved arm strength after throwing more long-toss and cutting his bullpen session to only a dozen pitches.
"I felt better today than the last game," said Greinke. "With the extra day and throwing less [in the bullpen], my arm felt stronger and I had better fastball command."
The results included striking out five of the first 11 batters, and he didn't give up a hit until Chase Headley's one-out bouncer in the fourth inning. That brought up Quentin, who had already struck out in his first-inning at-bat after a Headley walk, and struck out again this time on a 1-2 slider in the dirt.
Meanwhile, Padres starter Edison Volquez was unhittable early, but wild throughout (seven walks, seven strikeouts and two hits in 5 2/3 innings). Volquez still had a no-hitter going even after the Dodgers scored their first run. That came in the top of the fifth inning, when with one out, the righty walked Juan Uribe, A.J. Ellis and Greinke to load the bases, the last one coming after Greinke fouled off his first two bunt attempts.
Skip Schumaker then bounced into what appeared to be a double play to end the inning, but borrowing Nick Punto's head-first dive, Schumaker convinced umpire Marty Foster he was safe, although the replay showed otherwise, as Uribe scored.
"I think we caught a break," said Mattingly.
The first Dodgers hit was Gonzalez's homer leading off the sixth inning. That started a four-run, two-error rally, two of the runs scoring when shortstop Pedro Ciriaco booted a routine grounder from A.J. Ellis that should have ended the inning.
Tacking on the runs to chase Volquez was the key to winning the game, but afterward, the clubhouse was buzzing about Ramirez's home run, which landed on the fourth-story balcony of the landmark Western Metal Supply Co. Building in left field. The estimated distance was 413 feet, but it was a line missile that would have had plenty of carry if the building hadn't gotten in the way.
"The best one I ever hit in my career," said Ramirez, who has 161 home runs, but only three in this injury-riddled season. "They keep telling me the lineup looks so much better when I'm in it, and that gives me confidence."
Despite playing only 18 games because of thumb and hamstring injuries, Ramirez is batting .367 with a 1.060 OPS.
"How far was that thing?" Greinke asked. "With all the smart people in the world, they should be able to figure out how far it would land. It shouldn't be that difficult. I'm so used to hearing flawed numbers, it would be nice to hear what it really is. Guys were crushing balls in batting practice yesterday and that was better than any of those. And it was two strikes. Pretty good."
Said Mattingly: "If he gets that up in the air, it goes over that building. I really believe it's out on the street somewhere. That would be really cool."