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Padres–Dodgers: A Fan's Observation From Petco Park

Todd KaufmannSenior Writer IJuly 6, 2009

For the first time during the 2009 season, I got the chance to return to Petco Park in San Diego to watch my San Diego Padres take on the Los Angeles Dodgers on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.

Coming into the game, I knew that I was going to hear a lot of trash talking. You just expect that when the Dodgers are in town because of the numerous fans that make the trip from Los Angeles, not to mention the many Dodger fans that make San Diego their home.

I think I was driving my girlfriend and my mom nuts, both of whom attended the game with me, by spending the majority of the game taking picture after picture of players, the ballpark, and of the United States Marines sitting in the upper deck in right field.

Speaking of the Marines, if you've never been to Petco Park in San Diego, or have never come for a visit, make the trip down here because, I promise you, it's worth it for this one moment:

In the home half of the fourth, the Marine Corps song comes on and the Marines stand to their feet, as does everyone else in the stadium.

Fans, regardless of what team they root for, become "Americans" again, and as they are on their feet, they clap while the song plays. Players stop what they're doing, umpires take off their hats, and everyone's attention turns to the upper deck.

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If you've been to a Padre game and have experienced this, you know what I'm talking about.

Although I've seen it numerous times over my years of attending Padre games, it never ceases to give me chills, and watching fans not be "fans" for those two minutes is probably one of the coolest things you'll see while attending a major league baseball game.

The game itself was pretty much all Dodgers through eight innings. Dodgers' starter Chad Billingsley had given up just one run on two hits, and was still running his fastball up to 91 MPH into the home half of the ninth.

It was then that the Padres began their rally, starting with a solo home run by third baseman Chase Headley. 

After Billingsley was pulled after the Padres had pulled to within 6-2, Dodgers' manager Joe Torre came out and elected to bring in closer Jonathan Broxton, seemingly as automatic as they come as a closer. 

Broxton had serious control issues though. He surrendered a few walks, one of which pulled San Diego to within 6-4, before giving up a game tying two-run single to shortstop Everth Cabrera.

Both teams held each other scoreless through the next few innings before James Loney unloaded on Padres' reliever Edward Mujica with a solo home run to right, which turned out to be the game winner.

I have to give credit to right-hander Jeff Weaver, a former Fresno State Bulldog, who came into the game in relief and pitched great for the Dodgers, picking up the win as the Dodgers took a 7-6 decision in 13 innings.

Padres' second baseman David Eckstein could miss a week to 10 days with a strained right hamstring that he suffered in the home half of the 12th inning as he tried to beat out a ground ball to short. Eckstein hit the bag hard going by, and came up limping as he he went up the first base line. 

It was obvious, watching from where I was sitting, that Eckstein did not want to come out of the game, but was eventually sent down to the locker room for further tests. 

He was replaced by Jose Lobaton, who made his major league debut, and could see more playing time in the coming week should Eckstein miss significant time.

Kyle Blanks looked over-matched in his two at bats yesterday. He was the final batter of the game, and looked absolutely foolish on three straight pitches from Dodgers' reliever Jeff Weaver. 

I'm not sure if that's his lack of confidence showing, or he couldn't pick up the pitch from Weaver, but he couldn't get the bat off his shoulder in what could have been a big at bat.

Manny Ramirez made an appearance as well in a pinch hitting role, and there were a various mixture of boos and cheers from both sides. Ramirez would be a non-factor, as he popped out to end the inning.

On a high note for the Padres, closer Heath Bell and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez were both named to the National League All-Star team prior to yesterday's game—well deserved for both guys.

Speaking of Gonzalez, he had a chance to be a hero in the ninth inning, but was struck out by Dodgers' closer Jonathan Broxton. That was the spot that the Padres needed his bat, but Adrian was non-existent. They are going to need him in clutch situations like that if they're going to win the close games. 

Luckily for San Diego, they got big hits from Will Venable and Everth Cabrera in the home half of the ninth, as well as a big solo home run from Chase Headley to lead off the ninth inning rally.

The Padres boarded a flight late Sunday, and will be in Phoenix to take on the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night for the first of a three game set. 

Unfortunately for San Diego, they have too many pitchers on the disabled list, so they will have to go with Walter Silva against Arizona starter Jon Garland. 

If the Padres' offense can't get going tonight, it could be a very long three game set.

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