LOS ANGELES – Not many tabbed the San Diego Padres to beat the Mets in New York in the wild-card round. Even fewer picked them against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have dominated the Padres in recent years and were baseball’s best team during the regular season.
But they're all even now.
Manny Machado homered early and added an RBI double off Clayton Kershaw, and Jurickson Profar singled home the go-ahead run as San Diego defeated the Dodgers 5-3 on Wednesday to tie their NL Division Series at one game apiece.
“We’re going to compete,” Machado said. “We’re going to try to do everything possible to help our team win every single day. That’s what we started in New York, and we’re going to continue to do that until we’re not.”
The wild-card Padres beat the rival Dodgers for the first time in the postseason. San Diego was swept 3-0 by the Dodgers in a 2020 Division Series and lost Game 1 of this playoff Tuesday.
“It’s probably as back and forth a game as you are going to see,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said. “A lot of drama to it. Fun win.”
Dropped from first to seventh in the batting order for matchup purposes, Profar grounded a single to right field in the sixth inning off reliever Brusdar Graterol, who took the loss. Jake Cronenworth scored for a 4-3 lead.
Cronenworth homered off Blake Treinen in the eighth to give San Diego some insurance, and Josh Hader earned his first four-out save since August 2020 with Milwaukee.
“This team all year, we’ve been grinding,” Machado said.
Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy and Trea Turner went deep for the NL West champion Dodgers.
After an off day Thursday, the best-of-five series resumes with Game 3 on Friday in San Diego.
“Don’t take anybody lightly in the postseason,” Freeman said. “They’re here for a reason. They play good baseball, they played really good against the Mets, and they just came out on top today.”
The teams traded one-run leads on a night when two of baseball’s elite pitchers — Kershaw and Yu Darvish of the Padres — got knocked around a bit. In the middle innings, it became a battle of the bullpens for the second straight game.
Hader, who got the final out of the eighth, gave up a two-out double to Freeman off the right-center wall in the ninth. That brought up Will Smith as the potential tying run at the plate. But he flied out to right to end the game.
“Freeman hits an 0-2 pitch that’s up around his chin that I don’t know how he even gets to,” Melvin said, “and then all of a sudden you are one pitch away from being in trouble again.”
The Dodgers' only lead was a 2-1 advantage in the second. Baseball's highest-scoring team in the regular season struggled to hit in the clutch.
“There were a couple of opportunities, two innings back-to-back, that we had an opportunity situationally to push a run across to tie the game, let alone to potentially take the lead, and we couldn’t do that,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Defensively it just wasn’t clean, either.”
Machado's double in the third tied it, and Cronenworth gave the Padres a 3-2 lead with an RBI groundout.
Turner's homer in the bottom half evened it again.
Darvish, who got the win, allowed three runs and seven hits in five-plus innings and had at least one baserunner in every inning. The right-hander struck out seven and walked two.
“We’re in a playoff game, and I think bottom line is if we win the game, it’s all good,” Darvish said through a translator. “That’s what happened today. All in all, I think it was a good day for us.”
Kershaw gave up three runs and six hits in five innings. The three-time Cy Young Award winner struck out six and eventually settled down to retire his final nine batters.
“I definitely made some mistakes that they made me pay for,” Kershaw said, “but overall I would like to have a few pitches back, but it definitely could have been worse, for sure.”
In the sixth, the Dodgers made two nifty defensive plays, but couldn’t keep the Padres from taking the lead.
Trent Grisham bunted into a fielder’s choice to Graterol. He charged toward the third-base line, picked up the ball barehanded and threw sidearm to Smith, who made the tag on a headfirst-sliding Wil Myers to save a run. Graterol glanced toward his dugout and spread his hands as if to say, “How about that?”
Cody Bellinger ended the inning with a twisting, over-the-shoulder catch in deep center field.
The Dodgers had a great chance to tie the game in the sixth with runners on the corners.
Muncy hit a single to deep right that chased Darvish. A stunned Muncy stopped at first base, apparently thinking the ball would be caught by Juan Soto, but it went over his head near the bullpen gate. Smith, who reached on an infield single, advanced to third with no outs.
But the Dodgers were unable to cash in. Robert Suarez came in and struck out Justin Turner, and then Gavin Lux grounded into a double play to end the inning, leaving the sellout crowd of 53,122 stunned.
The Dodgers came up short again in the seventh.
With nervous fans on their feet chanting “Let’s go, Dodgers!,” they loaded the bases with two outs after an intentional walk to Freeman. But Smith flied out to center to end the threat.
GOOSE ON THE LOOSE
A large goose flew into the stadium and landed in shallow right-center with two outs in the eighth. It sat on the grass as Lux singled to right.
The grounds crew rushed out with a blue plastic trash bin, but the bird took off. It flew all the way to near the Dodgers' on-deck circle, where Bellinger was standing. He edged away from it as the goose landed.
As the crew approached again, the goose flew to the infield near third base. A worker rushed over and put a towel over the goose and dropped it into the bin.
“That was pretty gnarly,” Machado said. “Just didn’t want to hurt him. I think he was hurt when he landed so I didn’t like seeing that, but I guess it was good luck for us.”
LHP Blake Snell will start Game 3 for the Padres in their first postseason game in front of fans at Petco Park in 16 years.
“Honestly, I have no idea what to expect — but I know it’s gonna be fun," Machado said. "San Diego’s been waiting for this all year, they’ve been waiting for it for a long time, and we’re excited to go back home on Friday 1-1.”
The Dodgers are going with All-Star RHP Tony Gonsolin, who won 16 games in a career-best regular season.
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