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Dodgers offense does just enough to win Game 2

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Dodgers lose the home run battle to the Padres, or did they?

MLB: NLDS-San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Cody Bellinger hit one home run and took away another, and the Dodgers offense threatened throughout, then somehow held on for a 6-5 win over the Padres in an exciting Game 2 of the NLDS on Wednesday night.

The Dodgers lead the best-of-5 series, two games to none.

Bellinger’s solo home run in the fourth inning was the first of the series for either team, and the Dodgers’ second in four games this postseason. But it was a home run he brought back, off the bat of Fernando Tatis Jr. in center field in the seventh inning that probably saved the game.

Had the ball from Tatis went out, the Padres would have led 5-4. Instead, the Dodgers responded with two more runs in the bottom of the inning to widen the advantage. They would need all of it.

Kenley Jansen was brought in to hold a 6-3 lead in the ninth inning, but allowed two runs while throwing 30 pitches. He left with the tying run on first base and two outs, but Joe Kelly, in his first game in 12 days, was brought in for Tatis, and promptly walked him.

Kelly walked Manny Machado as well to load the bases, but then got Eric Hosmer to ground out to end it, mercifully.

“It’s going to take a while to wind down from that one,” Bellinger said. “That’s postseason baseball right there.”

The Dodgers’ 11 hits on the night was their best output so far this postseason.

For a second straight night they clustered four hits together in the same inning to grab the lead. A.J. Pollock and Austin Barnes singled to open the third, and both scored on a one-out double by Corey Seager, who scored on a single by Max Muncy.

Dodgers catchers with 2 multi-hit games in one postseason

Catcher Year Games
Catcher Year Games
Roy Campanella 1955 2
Steve Yeager 1977 2
Mike Scioscia 1988 2
Austin Barnes 2017 2
Austin Barnes 2020 2
Source: Baseball-Reference

Barnes also singled in the fourth inning, giving him his second multi-hit game in as many starts this October. Only five times has a Dodgers catcher had two multi-hit games in the same postseason, and Barnes (2017, 2020) is the only one to do it twice.

Two more singles, by Corey Seager and Max Muncy, and a walk by Barnes in the seventh brought home the insurance runs. Seager finished the night with three hits, and Muncy had two.

Those two insurance runs were helped along by a double steal, initiated by Mookie Betts and Seager on reliever Drew Pomeranz’s first pitch of the game, a play that wasn’t called from the dugout.

“You see these guys, and you know these guys. Guys do a lot of digging,” manager Dave Roberts said. “That was the difference in the game. It’s a big play by a very good player, two good players.”

Clayton Kershaw wasn’t effective as last Thursday, but then again it would have been impossible to expect a repeat of that. Instead, they got a steady performance and didn’t push him farther than needed.

Wil Myers got him for an RBI double with nobody out in the second inning, Myers’ first extra-base hit in 45 career plate appearances against Kershaw, who recovered to get the next three hitters to strand him. Kershaw had three 1-2-3 innings on the night, but ran into trouble in the sixth, when back-to-back home runs by Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer trimmed the Dodgers’ advantage to 4-3.

“My last start of the regular season was pretty bad, and against the Brewers I felt like I had a lot of stuff going on. This one was kind of right in the middle of those two,” Kershaw said. “I wish there was a magic formula to have everything going the way you want it to every game, but sometimes it just doesn’t work that way.”

Kershaw got through six innings and struck out six with no walks. This time he got more swings and misses off his fastball (six) than his slider (five), and allowed a home run on each pitch.

“He did what we needed,” Roberts said. “I think he made a couple mistakes as far as the homers, but he gave us six innings, three runs, and we were winning when he came out of the game. He put our team in position to win, so he did a nice job, a real nice job.”

The Dodgers were out-homered on the night, snapping a string of 19 straight wins by teams with more home runs to start this postseason.

Game 2 particulars

Home runs: Cody Bellinger (1); Manny Machado (2), Eric Hosmer (1)

WP — Clayton Kershaw (2-0): 6 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 6 strikeouts

LP — Zach Davies (0-1): 5 IP, 9 hits, 4 runs, 3 strikeouts

Sv — Joe Kelly (1): ⅓, 2 walks

Up next

The Dodgers go for the sweep on Thursday night in Game 3 (6:08 p.m., MLB Network). Adrián Morejón starts for the Padres, while the Dodgers will name their starter on Thursday morning.