Dodgers 6, Padres 5 … but what does it mean?

Tomorrow night’s game will go a long way toward answering that question. The Dodgers staged a dramatic, four-run rally in the ninth tonight against Trevor Hoffman, about as emotional a way as you can think of to end a four-game losing streak. The result was that instead of falling into a four-team logjam in the standings, where they would have been tied with the Giants and Pads for first and just a half-game ahead of the Snakes, the Dodgers reclaimed sole possession of first place. IF they win tomorrow, the Dodgers will have taken four of the first five from the Padres this year and guaranteed themselves of winning each of the first two series. Early as it is, that would seem to at least give them a major psychological boost against a team that won 13 of 18 from the Dodgers last year. And if the Dodgers then go on to win the division. tonight’s ninth inning could loom large at the end — especially if they win it by a narrow margin over the Friars. On the flip side, a loss tomorrow would completely negate tonight’s victory because it would mean that the Dodgers got NO momentum from it, and it also would give the Dodgers five losses in their past six games. So tonight’s triumph could be monumental. Then again, it could be fleeting. We shall see. … The Dodgers’ once-airtight bullpen is beginning to show cracks. It has now given up runs in five straight games. Chad Billingsley continued to struggle, giving up three runs (two earned) in what would have been a decisive sixth inning of Hoffman hadn’t imploded in the ninth. Rudy Seanez issued two walks to load the bases in the eighth and was saved from himself by a spectacular, inning-ending diving catch in right field by Andre Ethier. And even Takashi Saito got a little shaky with two outs in the ninth, giving up a no-doubt blast to Jose Cruz Jr. and hitting Brian Giles — putting the tying run on base — before Adrian Gonzalez flied to deep center to end the game on a ball that would have been a bit more frightening in another park that didn’t have such a big outfield. … Dodgers go to 14-9 and lead SF by a game, AZ by a game and a half and the Padres by 2

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