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Dodgers find offense, but no defense for Padres sweep

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2-run 8th inning provides the winning margin for San Diego

Los Angeles Dodgers v San Diego Padres Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The Dodgers never led in the three-game series against the Padres, though on Wednesday they found enough offense to at least tie San Diego twice, the first time they’ve done so after the first inning all series.

But in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Dodgers couldn’t find their defense, or much of anything else in dropping the series finale 5-3 on Wednesday at Petco Park, finishing off a Padres sweep.

Jake Cronenworth drove a ball to right field that Matt Beaty took a circuitous route on, then had go off his glove for a double. Dave Roberts said Mookie Betts, who was unavailable on Wednesday with the stomach flu and sent back to Los Angeles early after receiving IV fluids, would have made the play.

“Mookie’s an elite defender, and Matt’s not,” Roberts conceded. “He’s doing the best he can.”

Manny Machado followed with a ground ball to third baseman Justin Turner, who in trying to look Cronenworth back to second took too much time in throwing to first. Instead of two outs and nobody on, Blake Treinen left his second inning of work with two on and nobody out.

“I went to check back Cronenworth and didn’t have a good grip,” Turner said. “I had to reset my grip and obviously took a little too long.”

Victor Gonzalez was brought in, and after a sacrifice bunt put both runners in scoring position, Roberts intentionally walked Wil Myers to load the bases. That decision immediately backfired when Gonzalez walked Trent Grisham on six pitches to force home the go-ahead run.

After three walks in his previous 14 outings, Gonzalez has three walks in his last three games, and allowed three of four inherited runners to score.

Joe Kelly followed and got the final two outs of the frame, though one was a sacrifice fly by catcher Victor Caratini to right field that Beaty almost dropped before making a snow cone catch.

Meanwhile, in the bottom of the ninth with the Dodgers’ tying runs on base, Machado provided the defense for San Diego, snaring a line drive by pinch-hitter Albert Pujols and throwing to second for the game-ending double play.

A familiar start

Cronenworth homered in all three games of the series, including one in the first inning in each of the last two nights. Machado followed with a solo shot of his own, putting the Padres up 2-0 on Trevor Bauer.

After the Dodgers tied things up, Caratini took Bauer deep to open the seventh inning, spoiling an otherwise effective start in which Bauer settled down after the shaky first.

Bauer struck out 10 on the night, and leads the National League with 129 strikeouts on the season and leads the majors with 101⅔ innings pitched. He’s also fourth in the majors with 17 home runs allowed.

“I just have the worst home run luck in the league,” Bauer said. “It seems like every time I make the smallest little mistake, it leaves the yard.

“I guess just hope that it can’t last all season.”

The three home runs were the only three runs Bauer gave up on Wednesday.

The offense

The two runs in six innings off Joe Musgrove is tied for the most scored by the Dodgers against a Padres starter this season. And it came with some help.

A double by Max Muncy and a single by Will Smith brought home the Dodgers first run in the fourth. Then came a gift from Fernando Tatis Jr., who made an ill-advised throw, trying for a double play that wasn’t going to happen. Instead, the errant toss — a major league-leading 16th error for Tatis — scored the equalizer.

Outside of that rally, the Dodgers were hitless through the seventh inning, and nearly had Machado snuff out all three outs of the eighth. But two days after a Machado play led Dave Roberts to day he’d like to see defensive shifts go away altogether, a Muncy fly ball into the right field corner was nearly caught by a diving Machado, the third baseman.

“It’s basically playing with four outfielders,” Turner said of Machado’s defense. “It’s pretty remarkable he almost got to that ball Muncy hit.”

“Manny’s an elite player. He’s a great player. He had a great series,” said Roberts. “He hit a homer or two, but it was the defense that stood out for me.”

But this one fell for another double for Muncy, and Tuner singled him home five pitches later to knot things up.

The Padres nearly re-took the lead before Caratini’s home run, but a fateful bounce intervened. A double to center by Grisham in the bottom of the fourth would have easily scored Wil Myers from first base with two outs, but because the ball bounced over the fence, Myers was forced to stay at third, where he was stranded four pitches later.

Myers was on base via walk, one of four free passes from Bauer on the night. In his first nine starts this season, Bauer had a 6.4-percent walk rate. But in his last seven outings, it’s 11.7 percent.

The Padres outscored the Dodgers 14-7 in the three-game series, and hit seven home runs to the Dodgers’ three.

“They absolutely kicked our ass from an intensity standpoint. They came to play and we didn’t,” Bauer said. “That’s what happens in baseball. You try to attack the other team and win, and when you don’t have that mindset you get rolled. And we got rolled.”

“I know our guys came to play to win every night. When you’re at home in front of a packed house, and most of the fans are your home fans, they feed off that,” Roberts said. “But I don’t think we weren’t ready to play and ready to win baseball games.”

“We didn’t get good results, and we didn’t play the cleanest baseball,” Turner said. “I think we’re all looking forward to getting the opportunity to play them again.”

Back and forth

Wednesday was the 10th game in which Bauer has faced Machado, dating back to their days in Cleveland and Baltimore, respectively, beginning in 2014. Machado has owned the matchup, to the tune of a 1.797 OPS entering the game.

In July 2020, Bauer in a video entitled “Manny Machado OWNS Trevor Bauer’s Fastball!” detailed a 2018 matchup in which he tried throwing him mostly offspeed stuff, though Machado still homered in that game on a 3-0 fastball.

In their last meeting, back on April 24 this year in Los Angeles, Bauer tried a new strategy, throwing nothing but sliders in his 13 pitches to his nemesis. And it worked, to the tune of two strikeouts and a groundout, the first time Machado didn’t get at least one hit in a game against Bauer.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Diego Padres Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, Bauer carried over that strategy into the first inning, when he threw nothing but sliders again to Machado. But the eighth was enough, and was deposited into the left field seats for a 2-0 lead.

“It’s my best matchup pitch against him, and I had success with it last time,” Bauer explained. “Especially in that situation, nobody on, I decided to go with that until he hit one. He proved that he can hit it, and then the game was on.”

Bauer changed course in the fourth inning, throwing a four-seam fastball and two sinkers to strike out Machado on three pitches. In the sixth, Bauer tried another two-seamer on the first pitch that Machado tattooed 110.6 mph off the bat, but it was lined right at Cody Bellinger in center field for the out, a fact Machado shared a laugh with Bauer about as he returned to the dugout.

In their career meetings, totaling 29 plate appearances over 10 games, Machado is hitting .520/.552/1.200 with five home runs and two doubles.

Wednesday particulars

Home runs: Jake Cronenworth (11), Manny Machado (12), Victor Caratini (6)

WP — Tim Hill (4-3): ⅓ IP

LP — Blake Treinen (1-3): 1+ IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 strikeout

Sv — Mark Melancon (23): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk

Up next

The Dodgers return home to face the Cubs for a four-game series beginning Thursday night (7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA) with Walker Buehler on the mound in the opener. Chicago sends a slew of right-handed starting pitchers in the series, beginning with Zach Davies on Thursday.