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Ross strikes out 10 Dodgers in five innings

LOS ANGELES -- Tyson Ross was great, but the Padres couldn't match Zack Greinke, Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers.

Ross racked up a career-high 10 strikeouts while allowing one run over five innings to turn a tie game over to the San Diego bullpen. Dale Thayer entered in the sixth, and Puig homered on the second pitch of the inning to send the Padres to a 2-1 loss on Sunday afternoon, completing a three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium.

For the second time in as many games, the Padres received strong starting pitching and managed just one run. Ross took a no-decision, as did Andrew Cashner after tossing seven innings of one-run ball on Saturday night.

"Our pitchers are hanging in there, they really are," said Padres manager Bud Black. "They are keeping the game close, giving us a chance to win. We're just one big hit away. I'm proud of the way guys are pitching."

In 11 starts this season, Ross owns a 2.76 ERA (2.99 overall) while striking out 70 over 65 1/3 innings. He fanned at least two in three of his five innings on Sunday, striking out the side in the second and adding three more punchouts in the fifth.

Ross has been even better in the second half, with a 2.28 ERA in eight starts.

"I'm pretty happy with where I'm at," Ross said. "I'm fortunate to be back in the starting rotation, showing the Padres what I can do. I feel like this season has been big for me. I've taken some big strides. I've figured some things out there on the mound."

Still, Ross is stuck on three wins and hasn't gotten much run support. The Padres have scored just eight runs in his past seven outings. It's been the same for Cashner, with San Diego scoring nine runs in his past five starts.

"We've got to support them more," said catcher Nick Hundley. "They've been great. They've been terrific. There are no moral victories, but at the same time you have to look at their starts and say they did a good job."

While it hasn't shown up in the win column, the Padres like how their rotation looks going forward with Cashner and Ross leading the way.

"It's great to see these two guys make huge strides in the second half," Black said. "That bodes well for next year, it really does. Those two guys are big and physical. They can shut down lineups. We saw it the last two nights against a really good team."

The Dodgers have taken notice, too.

"Those cats have great arms, power stuff," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "You can't play around and beat that team. They are well coached. They play hard. Let your guard down, they're going to get you."

Ross matched Greinke, the 2009 American League Cy Young Award winner, for five innings. But Ross' pitch count grew to 105 as he piled up strikeouts, and Black did not send him back out for the sixth.

"It's just unfortunate he had the pitch count a little up, because his stuff was good," Black said. "He was matching Greinke. It was a good matchup. But for me, he just ran out of pitches."

Greinke was much more economical with his arsenal, needing 95 pitches to go seven innings. He beat the Padres for the second time this season, charged with one run on two hits. Greinke struck out seven, walked two and won his sixth straight start.

The Padres scored first in each game of the series, but could not hold their leads. This time, they manufactured a run in the third. Reymond Fuentes walked, advanced to second on Ross' sacrifice, stole third base and scored on a single by Alexi Amarista.

The Dodgers responded in their half of the inning, though. Carl Crawford doubled down the right field line with two outs, the first hit Ross allowed. Mark Ellis, who drove in the winning run in Saturday's eighth inning, followed with an RBI single.

Ross' 10th strikeout was an important one, and it got him out of a jam in the fifth. After striking out A.J. Ellis and Nick Punto to begin the frame, Ross allowed consecutive singles to Greinke and Crawford to put runners on the corners. The right-hander fanned Ellis on a nasty breaking ball to escape the inning.

But Puig's impact in another game against the Padres was too much to overcome. The rookie also had a four-hit game and a multihomer performance against San Diego this season.

"He's a good player, there's no doubt about it," Black said. "We're trying to contain him. Puig's got some talent."

The Padres had a chance to tie the game against the Dodgers' bullpen in the eighth, but came up empty. Fuentes led off with a single, his first Major League hit, moved to second on a wild pitch and advanced to third on a ground out. But Will Venable struck out and Chris Denorfia grounded out.

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