SAN DIEGO -- The Padres might have considered themselves lucky to not face Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke in their weekend series with the Dodgers, but Josh Beckett turned in a Cy Young-worthy performance of his own Saturday night as the Dodgers beat the Padres 4-2.
Beckett (5-4) didn't allow a runner to advance past first base in his seven innings, allowing just four hits and two walks while striking out eight. Going back to his May 25 no-hitter, Beckett has given up just seven earned runs in 40 innings (1.58 ERA) across his last six starts.
Dee Gordon helped Los Angeles open the scoring with his bat and his legs. After hitting an RBI single to drive in Drew Butera, Gordon stole second and advanced to third when Rene Rivera's off-target throw bounced into center, then scored on Hanley Ramirez's sacrifice fly to give Los Angeles a 2-0 lead.
"It was the location I wanted, [Gordon] just put a good swing on it," said Padres starter Tyson Ross. "He's definitely a threat on base. You gotta worry about him. He really changes that lineup."
Ramirez would later add an RBI single in the fifth to make it a three-run advantage, before Los Angeles tacked on another in the eighth off reliever Alex Torres.
Ross (6-7) was solid if unspectacular, allowing three runs (two earned), six hits and one walk with five strikeouts in seven innings. He was saddled with the loss, though, as the Majors' worst offense was left helpless against Beckett.
"[Beckett] had the tantalizing curveball all night long in different counts," said Padres manager Bud Black. "He could throw it for a called strike right at the knees, I think that was the key to him." The veteran right-hander surpassed the 100-pitch mark for the first time since his no-hitter and lowered his ERA to 2.28, good for third in the National League.
"If I get seven [innings] and 100 pitches, that's a pretty successful night," Beckett said. "At this point in my career, I'm not a complete-game guy. My stuff is not as good. I try to battle with what I have and get through six or seven innings."
San Diego threatened to stage a late comeback for the second night in a row after Beckett exited, when Cameron Maybin opened the bottom of the eighth with a leadoff triple off Paul Maholm. Tommy Medica and Rivera contributed RBI singles later in the inning off Brandon League, but Jake Goebbert grounded into a fielder's choice to end San Diego's only real scoring threat.
Kenley Jansen pitched around a pinch-hit infield single by Yasmani Grandal to shut down the Padres in the ninth for his 21st save, one night after recording his third blown save.
"We had the tying run again at the plate tonight," Black said. "The last few games, we've been swinging the bats a little bit better."
Second baseman Jace Peterson continued his struggles with a 0-for-3 night at the plate as his batting average fell to .095 on the season. The 2011 first-round pick was named the MVP of Class A Advanced Lake Elsinore last year, but has looked overmatched at the plate since being recalled on June 4, going 0-for-19.
But with Chase Headley and Jedd Gyorko sidelined with injuries, San Diego doesn't have any better options at the moment.
The Padres (32-43) now trail St. Louis for the second Wild-Card spot by eight games. The Dodgers (41-35) own the first Wild-Card spot by a half-game over the Cardinals. They have now won six of eight and nine of their last 13, and kept pace with the Giants, who beat the D-backs, 6-4, to stay four games back in the NL West.
The two teams will meet in the rubber match on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. PT, as the Padres will try to win their first home series against the Dodgers since 2010.
Will Laws is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.