Dodgers 9, Padres 4: Another series win against San Diego

Needing 14 pitchers between the two teams to finish up Sunday Night Baseball, the Dodgers and Padres battled back and forth a bit with Los Angeles ultimately holding on for the 9-4 win after surging to a lead midway through the game.

Now 92-41, its a 19-game lead in the NL West, an 8-game lead in the National League and a 6.5-game lead over all of baseball.

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Mike Clevinger worked around an error in the 1st and a single in the 2nd to keep the Dodgers’ offense pretty quite, but it picked up a bit in the second run through the order. While Mookie Betts was left on second after a one-out double in the 3rd, the Padres’ 1-0 lead through three innings soon disappeared. Maybe boosted a bit after Alex Vesia relieved Ryan Pepiot and impressively escaped a two-on, no-out situation in the 4th, the Dodgers’ offense capitalized on what had remained a one-run game.

Opening the 4th inning against Clevinger, Will Smith took a 1-1 fastball to left center for a solo home run and his 21st of the year. Smashing the fastball 428 feet at 108.4 mph, the homer tied Smith’s second hardest hit ball of the season and was the third-farthest of his 21 this year.

A one-out walk to Justin Turner and a single by Joey Gallo put runners on the corners for Chris Taylor, who pulled ahead 3-0 against Clevinger. Ball four came up and in on Taylor and appeared to bounce off the knob of his bat, but was granted first base with a hit by pitch to load the bases.

Having struck out on three pitches in his first plate appearance, and slashing .140/.194/.281/.474 over the past 17 games, Cody Bellinger impressively survived a 1-2 count to walk after three consecutive misses by Clevinger. Now trailing 2-1 with Betts headed to the plate and the bases still loaded, the Padres ended Clevinger’s day at 3 1/3 innings and brought in Luis Garcia. First pitch swinging against Garcia, Betts flew out to center to bring home another run and extend the lead to 3-1 before Trea Turner‘s 69.3 mph blooper dropped in to bring home two more for a 5-1 lead.

After a scoreless 5th inning, with Garcia striking out three straight after a leadoff walk, the Dodgers threatened again in the 6th against Steven Wilson. Bellinger walked again and Betts put a fastball over the right field wall, but Soto brought it back into play for just a double.

https://twitter.com/dailymlbtweets/status/1566607839614930946?s=20&t=M9ng3WR-VJh7rkRwoQGIZg

Tim Hill entered and ended the inning with a ground ball to second, cashing in the gift Soto gave the Padres on that play.

Quickly that play became even bigger as the Padres put two on against Heath Hembree in the 7th before Evan Phillips, who had retired 29 straight, entered and allowed back-to-back doubles. Allowing a hit for the first time since Aug. 7 and two hits in an appearance for the first time since May 26th, Phillips struggled mightily with his cutter as the Padres drew within one at 5-4 and was bailed out by a bad strike three call well inside against Trent Grisham.

Now needing to add a few runs rather than force the bullpen to protect a one-run lead, the Dodgers jumped all over Adrian Morejon in the bottom of the 7th.

Smith drew a leadoff walk on a full count, Max Muncy singled off the right field wall and JT doubled to left to bring one home. Back ahead 6-4, the Dodgers put Trayce Thompson at the plate against a lefty for Gallo which worked out well.

Though I was lied to/listened to outdated information when I wrote that Pepiot would start tonight’s game, Caleb Ferguson did more than fine as the opener against the Padres. Striking out Ha-Seong Kim, Juan Soto and Manny Machado on just 11 pitches (nine strikes), Ferguson became the first player in baseball this season to strikeout a game’s first three batters all looking. All three strikeouts came on fastballs between 94 and 96 mph, with Ferguson’s velocity up 0.9 mph from his season average of 94.7 mph.

As for Pepiot, he needed 25 pitches in the 2nd inning and was aided by a comebacker off the bat of Jurickson Profar that he turned into a double play following a a leadoff single by Josh Bell. Following another single, Pepiot struck out Wil Myers swinging with a change to end his first inning. It didn’t get any cleaner in the 3rd inning with Pepiot walking two batters before a two-out infield single by Machado led to the game’s first run as Trea Turner’s throw short-hopped Freeman and resulted in an error.

Escaping any further damage as Bell grounded out to second, Pepiot sat at 60 pitches through two innings of work with 24 of those going for balls. A leadoff walk in the 4th on 8 pitches and another walk on 5 pitches ended Pepiot’s day after 74 pitches in 2+ innings with four walks and two strikeouts. Unsurprisingly, 32 of those pitches were balls and another 19 were fouled off.

Vesia entered with runners at first and second and escaped without allowing a run as he struck out Matt Beaty and Grisham before Austin Nola popped out to end the inning. The Dodgers stuck with Vesia for the 5th, but after a walk to Soto was relieved by Chris Martin. As Betts was interviewed with ESPN for the entire inning, Martin battled against Machado for an 8-pitch strikeout and seemed to get out of the inning with a ground ball that Trea threw over the head of Freeman.

Betts’ response to the error while mic’d up is also worth passing along.

Needing to get another out against Profar, Martin got another ground ball to end the inning just two pitches later.

Martin got one more out to open the 6th before being replaced by Hembree for his fourth appearance with the Dodgers. With Hembree sandwiching a walk around a pair of groundouts, the Dodgers’ pitching staff made it three consecutive hitless innings following the infield single by Machado. Hembree also took the mound in the 7th, getting two outs while allowing singles to Soto and Bell, with Phillips entering as the sixth pitcher of the game and allowing three to score, as mentioned earlier.

Given some cushion once again by the offense in the bottom of the 7th, Phil Bickford pitched the 8th and allowed a single before Craig Kimbrel closed it out in the 9th with another “Let It Go” inspired 1-2-3 inning.

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Here’s just a bit of Betts’ interview with the Sunday Night Baseball crew which thankfully didn’t go as disastrous as Soto’s a few weeks back.

https://twitter.com/Dodgers/status/1566611240343875584?s=20&t=M9ng3WR-VJh7rkRwoQGIZg

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With this series against San Diego completed, the Dodgers now wait for the Giants to arrive for a three-game series before heading south to face the Padres again this weekend. Andrew Heaney is scheduled to open the series with the Giants Monday night, with Logan Webb on the mound for San Francisco.

Webb (2.89 ERA/3.19 FIP/3.38 xFIP) has faced the Dodgers twice this season, allowing just one run in 6 innings on July 22 and six runs in 5 innings on Aug. 1, with the latter being his highest run total allowed in a game this year.

About Cody Bashore

Cody Bashore is a lifelong Dodger fan originally from Carpinteria, California (about 80 miles north of Dodger Stadium along the coast). He left California to attend Northern Arizona University in 2011, and has lived in Arizona full-time since he graduated in 2014 with a journalism degree. He now works for the university’s athletics department after spending seven years with the local newspaper.