Trailing the entire game, the Padres scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning on Sunday to defeat the Dodgers 4-2 and avoid a four-game sweep at Dodger Stadium.
After starting the series with a 1-1/2 game division lead over the Padres, the Dodgers find themselves 3-1/2 games up over their Southern California rivals. Even though it was a productive series for Los Angeles, Sunday’s loss was still disappointing because the team was so close to the sweep.
The Dodgers wasted an excellent outing from lefty Clayton Kershaw, a narrative that has been common throughout his career. Kershaw threw seven strong shutout innings, surrendering just four hits and a walk while striking out eight batters. He tossed a season-high 98 pitches.
The Dodgers got on the board in the first inning after Mookie Betts led off the game with a double to left field and later scored when Trea Turner smoked a double of his own to the same part of the park. That lead held throughout the entire game until the Padres came up to bat in the ninth.
Evan Phillips, who has emerged as a somewhat reliable eighth-inning option in the absence of Daniel Hudson and Blake Treinen, pitched a perfect eighth, setting his team up for the win with a 1-0 lead.
That is, until Craig Kimbrel entered the game to save it.
Third baseman Manny Machado started the ninth by striking out. Jake Cronenworth followed by smashing a 100-MPH line-drive comebacker that went off Kimbrel’s back, sending the pitcher to the ground. Kimbrel stayed in the game temporarily, but he was removed after Luke Voit doubled of the top of the left field wall to score Cronenworth and Eric Hosmer singled to score C.J. Abrams, who pinch ran for Voit.
By the time the smoke cleared on the top of the ninth, the Padres had a 4-1 lead.
After Gavin Lux started the bottom of the ninth with a strikeout, Betts began a mini-rally with a one-out double to right field. Trea Turner followed with a single, setting up Freddie Freeman with runners at first and third with one out.
However, Freeman managed just a sacrifice fly to score Betts. Will Smith grounded out to second base to end the game.
The Dodgers begin a three-game series against the Rockies at home on Monday.