Fernando Valenzuela can't pitch much better.
"I'm not frustrated by what's happened," Valenzuela said after Tony Gwynn's homer in the ninth inning gave the San Diego Padres a 1-0 victory in Los Angeles yesterday and halted Valenzuela's major-league record for most consecutive innings without an earned run at the start of the season. "All I can do is go out and to the best I can. I'm glad to have the record, but if we don't win, it's meaningless."
Valenzuela (2-3) ran the record to 41 1/3 innings when he retired Jerry Royster to lead off the ninth. He broke the major-league record held by Hooks Wiltse of the 1912 New York Giants at 40 2/3 innings.
But with one out in the ninth, Gwynn sent Valenzuela's first pitch into the right-center field stands.
"I said to myself in the ninth he would try a fast ball again. That was what I got," Gwynn said. "I just hit it and it went out.
Valenzuela allowed two hits and one walk, but struck out 10 in going the distance. Craig Lefferts (1-0) pitched 1 1/3 innings to get the victory in relief of San Diego starter Mark Thurmond. Rich Gossage pitched the ninth for his fifth save.
The Dodgers loaded the bases in the sixth -- with none out -- and seventh, but could not score.