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Blanks crushes the Padres' third home run

LOS ANGELES -- The possibility of it seemed absurd and unlikely. Defeat Clayton Kershaw and and complete a three-game sweep of the Dodgers -- on the very same night?

While anything is possible in baseball, pulling off both feats -- given the Padres' success rate, or lack thereof, against the Dodgers ace, coupled with their slow start this season -- appeared dubious at best.

But that's exactly what happened, as Kershaw allowed three home runs and the Padres ran off with a 7-2 victory before a crowd of 52,393 who saw San Diego complete its first sweep of three games or more at Chavez Ravine since July 2006.

So who saw this coming?

The Padres, who entered this series with a 2-10 record, scored 22 runs in the series and now take their first sweep of the season into an off-day Thursday in San Francisco, where the team will begin a three-game set against the Giants on Friday.

"To play three games like that is huge," said Padres reliever Brad Brach, who earned his first victory of the season by getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning and tossing a scoreless sixth. "That's the great thing about baseball; Things can change on a dime. Just to play well was huge."

The Dodgers appear to be heading in the opposite direction, even though they had Kershaw (2-2) going on Wednesday.

Kershaw, who entered the game 8-3 with a 2.28 ERA in 17 starts against the Padres, was not sharp. He walked four in five innings and allowed home runs to Everth Cabrera, Chris Denorfia and Kyle Blanks before departing after 5 1/3 innings.

All told, the Padres got to Kershaw for five runs (three earned) on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings. He also walked four as his ERA rose from 1.16 to 1.88.

"The last few days we've gotten down, and it feels like we're way down," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "This club shouldn't feel like that. This club should be a club that feels like we're in every game and can throw a bunch of runs up, just keep fighting."

The fourth inning was Kershaw's undoing, as he allowed a leadoff home run to Cabrera and five baserunners, with a double-play ball by Jedd Gyorko his only saving grace. Denorfia hit a home run to start the fifth inning and Blanks did the same with one out in the sixth.

"You've got to be ready to hit against him," Padres manager Bud Black said of Kershaw. "If he's not the best pitcher in the league, he's in the top two or three.

"For us, when the group is hitting, it takes the pressure off everyone. It was sort of contagious. It's great to see. It was great to see the long ball."

Ten players had hits for the Padres. Cabrera had three to raise his average to .298. Blanks had two hits and was also hit by pitches twice. Even starting pitcher Tyson Ross got into the act. His single in the third inning was the Padres' first hit of the game and the first hit of Ross' Major League career.

Ross got a scare as he ran to first base after the hit as his long follow through caused a partial dislocation of his left (non-throwing) shoulder. His shoulder popped back in shortly thereafter. After being attended to at first base, Ross remained in the game.

Ross allowed one run on six hits with three walks over 4 2/3 innings. The Padres tried to get him his first victory, but Black had to go to his bullpen after he loaded the bases.

"I had three opportunities to get that last out. That was definitely frustrating," Ross said. "But at the end of the day, it's a team win."

After starting pitcher Jason Marquis essentially gave the bullpen a night off on Tuesday, Black was able to use five fresh arms to close Wednesday's game out.

In the grand scheme of things, 15 games isn't much of a sample, but the way the team has played the last three days has certainly been an encouraging sign for Black.

"We played a couple of good games," he said. "It was big. It starts with the pitching. But I think some guys are getting close to their marks [offensively]. It was a well-played series by us."

On top of that, third baseman Chase Headley was in the lineup for the first time this season after missing the first 14 games with a fractured tip of his left thumb. He played the entire game and was 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI single.

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