- Associated Press - Saturday, July 12, 2014

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Dan Haren pitched much better last season after the All-Star break than he did before it - and he’s hoping the same scenario will play out this time around.

Less than two weeks after he beat Cleveland 1-0 with seven sharp innings - and allowed his only hit on an umpire’s call that was reversed by a video replay challenge - Haren threw 102 pitches in four-plus innings Friday night and gave up four runs in a 6-3 loss to the San Diego Padres.

“I felt fine, but that doesn’t really mean much. Regardless of how I felt the results were terrible,” said the three-time All-Star, who surrendered eight runs over 5 1/3 innings last Saturday in an 8-7 loss at Colorado. “I’m just not getting it done for us. I’m searching right now.

“I went through a similar thing last year, but then the All-Star break came and I was able to kind of turn the page and string together some good ones.

The Dodgers’ third loss in four games, coupled with San Francisco’s 5-0 win over Arizona, dropped the defending NL West champions into a virtual tie with the Giants for the division lead.

Haren (8-6) struck out five in his third start against the Padres and second loss to them in three weeks. He came in 4-1 with a 2.96 ERA in his eight previous home starts this season.

“He’s got less room for error than he has in the past,” manager Don Mattingly said.

Matt Kemp opened the scoring in the Dodgers’ first with an RBI single, but the Padres responded in the second with Alexi Amarista’s two-run homer after Will Venable reached on a strikeout-wild pitch past Drew Butera. Amarista and Haren were teammates with the Angels in 2011 and 2012.

Haren has allowed 19 homers - tying the Padres’ Eric Stults for second-most in the NL behind the 27 served up by Milwaukee’s Marco Estrada.

“I would say I’m just about as frustrated as I was last year,” Haren said. “Right now, I feel better than I did in April and May. My velocity has been up a little bit. Now I can strike guys out, but I’ve got to find a way to be more successful.”

The Padres increased the margin to 4-1 with two runs in the fifth. Chase Headley, whose homer in Thursday’s series opener ended Clayton Kershaw’s string of 41 consecutive scoreless innings, drove in Seth Smith from first base with a double. Carlos Quentin followed with another double on Haren’s final pitch for the first of his three RBIs.

Jesse Hahn (5-2) allowed a run and three hits, struck out six and walked four in his seventh major league start. The 24-year-old right-hander has a 1.46 ERA over his last six outings since Pittsburgh beat him 4-1 on June 3 in his big league debut at Petco Park.

Blaine Boyer took over for Hahn, giving up a leadoff double to Butera and a walk to Carl Crawford. That ended Boyer’s season-opening string of 26 consecutive plate appearances by right-handed batters without a hit or a walk - the longest such streak since STATS LLC began tracking data in 1974.

First-time All-Star Yasiel Puig chased Boyer with an RBI double, the first run off him this season in 14 innings. Adrian Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly against Alex Torres. But Quentin turned it into an inning-ending double play by throwing to third base and Headley applied the tag on the over-aggressive Puig after Dee Gordon crossed the plate.

“They were knocking on the door in that inning and put Blaine in a little bit of a crisis, so we had to go to Alex,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “He got the flyball from Gonzo, and Carlos got behind that ball and made a nice strong throw. If Puig doesn’t go, obviously we have to get another out. So that was a huge play for us.”

Joaquin Benoit escaped an eighth-inning jam, striking out Juan Uribe and Miguel Rojas with runners at second and third and retiring Crawford on a fielder’s choice grounder with the bases loaded after a full-count walk to pinch-hitter A.J. Ellis.

Huston Street pitched a perfect ninth for his 24th save in 25 chances.

Quentin, who entered Friday batting .165 with 14 RBIs in 42 games, extended the Padres’ lead to 6-1 in the sixth with a bases-loaded two-run single against Jamey Wright. The three RBIs gave the Padres’ left fielder two more than he had in his previous 34 at-bats combined.

NOTES: Former Dodgers assistant general manager Kim Ng was the eighth candidate interviewed by the Padres to replace fired general manager Josh Byrnes. Ng, currently the senior vice president of baseball operations for Major League Baseball, is attempting to become the first female general manager of any major pro sport. Dodgers vice president of amateur scouting Logan White also was interviewed for the job. So was Padres senior vice president of baseball operations Omar Minaya, the former Mets and Montreal Expos GM. … Haren has allowed at least one home run in 11 of his last 12 starts. But none of the last 30 home runs hit against him have come with more than one man on base.

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