The final three innings were quite the roller coaster ride, but despite the turbulence and postgame nausea the Dodgers somehow reached their destination with a 4-3 win over the Padres on Friday night at Petco Park.
Down a run in the eighth, the Dodgers rallied for a pair of runs, with a double by Howie Kendrick, a single by Andre Ethier, a walk by A.J. Ellis and RBI singles by Justin Turner and Alex Guerrero interspersed in. Guerrero's knock came in a pinch, improving his numbers to 6-for-17 (.353) as a pinch-hitter this season with three home runs, a double, a walk and eight RBI.
It was an inning filled with mistakes all around. Matt Kemp made a throwing error on Kendrick's double that allowed Kendrick to reach third, and Turner was picked off second base after taking a big lead later in the inning. Even the go-ahead run nearly didn't score, because Ellis was thrown out at third base to end the inning, but luckily for the Dodgers Ethier made it home before Ellis was tagged out.
That the Dodgers had to even rally to win in the first place was a cause for concern, as Clayton Kershaw didn't allow a run through six innings. He finished his night with 11 strikeouts in 6⅔ innings, but allowed a home run in the inning to Clint Barmes to cut the L.A. lead to 2-1.
Kershaw on the night also walked three, after walking three in his previous three starts combined.
After his 117th pitch, his season high, Kershaw was removed in favor of Yimi Garcia with two outs and nobody on.
But first, a digression.
In the top of the sixth inning after Frank Garces walked Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig back-to-back on nine total pitches, he threw a first pitch to Adrian Gonzalez that was well out of the strike zone, at the very least in the opinion of Gonzalez. After simmering a bit during his at-bat, Gonzalez grounded into an inning-ending double play, after which he let home plate Doug Eddings have it, and was summarily ejected.
Now, back to the bottom of the seventh inning.
Garcia, who entered Friday allowing a bullpen-high four home runs on the season, got Wil Myers to pop up in the infield on the first pitch. But before the sigh of relief had a chance to be fully exhaled, there was confusion among the Dodgers. Ellis it appeared couldn't see the ball, Garcia didn't get out of the way as his infielders converged on him, and Turner, who moved from third base to first after Gonzalez was ejected, ran into Garcia trying to catch the ball, which dropped, allowing Myers to get to second base.
Derek Norris hit the next pitch for a home run, giving the Padres a 3-2 lead.
Thanks to the Dodgers' rally, Garcia, who has allowed five home runs and 12 runs in his last 15 appearances, got the win.
Kenley Jansen allowed a two-out hit in the ninth inning to Myers, but struck out three for his eighth save of the season, giving Jansen 18 strikeouts and no walks this year.
It also gave the Dodgers, finally, a chance to fully exhale.
Zack Greinke gets the call on Saturday night as the Dodgers go for five straight wins. Ian Kennedy starts for San Diego in the middle game of the series.
Home runs: Clint Barmes (2), Derek Norris (7)
WP - Yimi Garcia (3-2): ⅓ IP, 1 hit, 2 unearned runs, 1 strikeout
LP - Dale Thayer (2-1): 0 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs
Sv - Kenley Jansen (8): 1 IP, 1 hit, 3 strikeouts