LOS ANGELES — The San Diego Padres earned a spirited late Wednesday night bus ride south on Interstate 5, heading toward their first home playoff game since 2006 with plenty of momentum.
Jurickson Profar hit a go-ahead single in the sixth inning, Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth homered and the San Diego Padres evened the National League Division Series at one win apiece with a 5-3 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Padres’ bullpen delivered four more scoreless innings after tossing 5 1/3 shutout frames in Game 1 of the best-of-five set. San Diego earned its first-ever postseason victory against Los Angeles in five tries.
“Ever since (Tuesday) night, they have been awesome, coming in and pounding the strike zone,” Cronenworth said of the San Diego relievers. “They’re pitching great when they come into the game with runners on base. I think that has been the difference-maker for us.”
Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy and Trea Turner homered for the Dodgers, who won a franchise-best 111 games in the regular season but now must win twice in three games in order to advance.
Padres starter Yu Darvish (2-0) allowed three runs on seven hits over five-plus innings with two walks and seven strikeouts.
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw gave up three runs on six hits in five innings with no walks and six strikeouts.
“I had some traffic all day and it could have been a lot worse for sure,” Kershaw said. “I definitely made some mistakes that they made me pay for. Overall, I’d like to have a few pitches back.”
Unlike Game 1, when the Dodgers grabbed the early lead, the Padres went up first on Machado’s opening-inning home run to left, his second of the postseason.
The Dodgers answered quickly with Freeman’s first-inning home run and a blast in the second from Muncy to take a 2-1 lead. Machado hit an RBI double in the third to even the score again, and Cronenworth rolled an RBI ground ball to first base two batters later.
The Dodgers kept their long-ball show going in the third when Turner tied the score 3-3 on a home run to left, his second in two games.
The Padres pushed in front in the sixth against Brusdar Graterol (0-1). After an error by Turner at shortstop put two Padres runners aboard, Profar rolled an RBI single to right field for a 4-3 advantage.
Los Angeles looked set to even the score with no outs in the bottom of the sixth, putting runners on the corners to end Darvish’s night. But hard-throwing right-hander Robert Suarez struck out Justin Turner and got Gavin Lux to ground into a double play.
“That was the play of the game,” Padres manager Bob Melvin said of the double play. “There are certain moments that get lost in the shuffle with the drama at the end of the game, but strikeout, double play and we had to be perfect on it. … That got the momentum back in our dugout.”
Suarez escaped his own jam in the seventh. A Cody Bellinger single and a Mookie Betts double put two aboard with one out. Suarez got Trea Turner to ground out, intentionally walked Freeman to load the bases, then got Will Smith to fly out.
“You just look at the game and there were a couple of opportunities in two innings back-to-back that we had a chance, situationally, to push across a run to tie the game, let alone take the lead,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We couldn’t do that. And defensively, it wasn’t clean either.”
Cronenworth’s home run in the eighth off right-hander Blake Treinen gave the Padres a 5-3 lead.
In addition to two scoreless innings from Suarez, Nick Martinez and Josh Hader kept the Dodgers off the scoreboard, with Hader recording four outs for his first save of the postseason.
The series now shifts to San Diego, which last played host to a playoff game in the 2006 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Padres dropped both home contests before getting eliminated in four games.
“They have been waiting for this for a while and they have been supporting us all year,” Melvin said of the home fans. “It seems like every game we get between 35,000 and 40,000 people there. The drama that took place in the regular season, we had 10 or 12 walk-offs that they were a big part of. They incentivize us. We feel like they’re part of us.”
–By Doug Padilla, Field Level Media