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SD@LAD: Gwynn makes the grab in the ninth to seal it

LOS ANGELES -- Add another name to the committee that the Dodgers are using to save games.

Tony Gwynn, who was inserted in left field in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement Friday night, made a spectacular diving catch on former teammate Nick Hundley's line drive with runners on the corners.

That rescued a 3-2 win over the Padres that featured Andre Ethier extending his hitting streak to an April record 25 games.

"I would love to say I'm surprised [Gwynn] made that play," Hundley said. "But I saw him make it the last two years."

Jonathan Broxton, who yielded the closer's role Wednesday to Vicente Padilla because of a sore elbow, was back on the mound for the ninth with a two-run lead.

He retired the first two batters he faced -- then it looked like the home runs Juan Uribe and Matt Kemp hit to put Los Angeles on top were about to go up in smoke. Broxton allowed consecutive singles to Will Venable, Orlando Hudson and Chase Headley to bring up Hundley with runners on the corners and one run already in.

As the crowd booed Broxton and Mike MacDougal quickly began warming up in the bullpen, Headley sent a first-pitch slider toward Gwynn, who raced toward the line and left his feet to make the diving catch.

"Playing with them the last year and a half, I've got a pretty good sense what they're going to do," Gwynn said. "I originally thought it would hook more, but it stayed straight and gave me a better chance to catch it. They put you in for defensive purposes, you're supposed to play defense. I got a good read on it."

So Broxton -- who's been dealing with a lack of confidence, diminished velocity, a sore elbow and a general manager who suggested there are other options to close out games -- held on for his sixth save, but the first since April 9. His ERA is up to 4.76.

Broxton's manager and biggest defender, Don Mattingly, gave no indication that he's ready to give up on him, even using Padilla as the eighth-inning setup man.

"We're working on getting the third out. The first two are coming pretty easy," Mattingly said, referring to the same scenario that produced a blown save for Broxton on Monday in Florida. "He promised to give me some easy ones. He's just trying to get me gray."

Mattingly said he was happy with the way Broxton pitched.

"He attacked tonight," Mattingly said. "He made them swing the bats. He was OK tonight. You don't see too many games clean."

Mattingly said he prefers that Broxton pitch up in the zone, although the right-hander gets away with fewer mistakes at 95 mph than he did at 100 two years ago.

Club owner and chairman Frank McCourt spent part of the game signing autographs in the right-field pavilion while his club's defense was making standout plays in the field. The Dodgers turned four double plays, two on creative heads-up decisions by Uribe and Aaron Miles not to catch soft pops in the air, freezing San Diego runners.

In addition to Gwynn, there were diving catches by Uribe, Kemp and Ethier, the latter also making a running catch on Hudson near the warning track.

Ted Lilly bobbed and weaved for the win. He allowed leadoff hits in each of the first four innings, but he enjoyed three double plays and finished strong, retiring the final eight batters he faced before being lifted for a pinch-hitter after six innings.

"I was able to use my curveball to get a few swings and misses, but a lot of that was set up by throwing strikes with the fastball," Lilly said.

After missing five starts with a tight right thigh muscle, Uribe returned just in time to take over third base from Casey Blake, who is on the disabled list after having surgery on his left elbow. His fourth-inning homer off Clayton Richard broke the tie, and Kemp added an insurance run with his team-high sixth homer in the seventh inning.

Ethier doubled with one out in the fifth inning, tying two players for the second-longest hitting streak in franchise history. He already set the Major League record for an April hitting streak. Ethier got a hit on March 31, but his streak began on April 2. He went 0-for-4 on April 1 vs. the Giants.

Uribe shut down the Padres' efforts in that frame. Richard faked a bunt and swung away, fisting a soft liner that Uribe let bounce at his feet, firing to first base to beat Richard -- then Jerry Sands ran down Hundley, who had to hold at first to see if the ball would be caught. It was the third double play in as many innings for the Dodgers' defense. The fourth Dodgers double play bailed out Padilla, who walked two of three batters before Jason Bartlett sent a soft liner toward Miles, who let the ball drop, flipped to Jamey Carroll at second base to force out Cameron Maybin, then Carroll threw to Uribe, who ran down Hundley.

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