LOS ANGELES -- On Tuesday, Joe Wieland was told that he would be making his Major League debut at Dodger Stadium, leaving the 22-year-old pitching prospect seemingly enough time to sort through any feelings of nervousness prior to Saturday's game.
It mostly worked, too.
After the euphoria of his promotion wore off, Wieland admitted feeling more under control, relaxed. That is, until he started to play catch in the outfield before the Padres game against the Dodgers and realized exactly where he was and what he was doing.
"I looked up and saw four levels [of the ballpark] and thought ... this is the real thing," Wieland said.
But if you're looking for any one particular reason why Wieland's debut went astray during the Padres' 6-1 loss to the Dodgers before a crowd of 46,549, don't pin it on a young pitcher buckling under with a case of nerves or being anxious.
Pin it on Matt Kemp, who continued to use the Padres as his personal punching bag, hitting two more home runs to give him five home runs this season -- all against the Padres. He has 11 hits in 23 at-bats against San Diego in six games with 14 RBIs.
And with 12 more games left on the schedule against San Diego this season.
"Is there a better player in the game right now?" asked San Diego manager Bud Black following the game. "We're not making good pitches to him."
Kemp drilled a two-run home run in the first inning against Wieland and then added another one an inning later as the Dodgers (8-1) continued their blissful run to start the season -- a fast start fueled by the bats of Kemp and Andre Ethier, who also hit a home run.
The Padres (2-7) have provided apt kindling to that frenetic start, as they dropped their fifth game in six attempts this season, handcuffed by left-hander Ted Lilly and buried by two huge swings from Kemp, who was greeted by chants of "MVP" each time he came to the plate.
"That's why he's one of the best hitters in the league," said Wieland, who allowed six runs on six hits in five innings with two walks and one strikeout.
Kemp's first home run came right after Wieland -- regarded as one of the Padres' top pitching prospects -- came inside with a fastball that Kemp swung through. Seeing this, Padres catcher Nick Hundley set up inside for the next pitch. Wieland missed out over the plate as Kemp drove the pitch over the fence in center field.
"Good pitch," Hundley said of Kemp's swinging strike. "I wanted to go back in there."
One inning later, and after the Padres trailed 4-1, Kemp came up again with a runner on base. The plan this time was to use more secondary pitches. Wieland misfired on a curveball on his first pitch and then attempted to bury a slider away to the right-handed-hitting Kemp.
He nearly did, too. And it still didn't matter, as Kemp went the other way, lifting a pitch away from him and driving it out over the fence in right field.
"That wasn't a bad pitch," Hundley said.
When Kemp came up for a third time in the fourth inning, Wieland had strict marching orders from his pitching coach, Darren Balsley.
"Don't leave it out over the middle again," Wieland said, smiling.
It was still easy enough for Wieland to break a smile Saturday, even after being roughed up in his first appearance. He admitted that he still has things to work on, adjustments to make before his next start Thursday against the Phillies at Petco Park.
Wieland did retire 10 of the final 12 hitters he faced, impressing his manager with the way he handled himself in his debut.
"I told him this is one of many Major League starts. I thought nerve-wise, he was fine," Black said. "Joe will be fine moving forward. I saw a lot of good signs."
There weren't many from the Padres' offense as Lilly allowed a two-out RBI single to Jesus Guzman in the first inning and little else.
"I was getting ahead of hitters, throwing strike one, getting them in swing mode, and then expanding tonight gave me a lot of success," said Lilly, who allowed two hits and one unearned run over seven innings.
The only hits the Padres got on Saturday were from Guzman and then a leadoff single in the seventh inning by Chase Headley. But that was it, as the Padres, one night removed from striking out 18 times, struck out seven times and had few opportunities to score.
"We've had a hard time with Ted," Black said. "There are a number of guys on this team who don't hit him well."