Scoring was at a premium on Tuesday night at Petco Park, but AJ Pollock did his best to procure and prevent runs in the Dodgers’ 5-2 win over the Padres in the opener of a three-game series in San Diego.
Pollock’s resurgence this season has been on offense, especially while hitting .363/.413/.624 since the beginning of July. But in the fourth inning, Manny Machado hit a ball with enough distance to get over the left field wall for a potential 2-1 Padres lead. But Pollock got over the wall as well, leaping to snag the two-run homer in heavy traffic among fans.
Not Manny guys can do what AJ just did. pic.twitter.com/ib9F97Vcdi— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) August 25, 2021
“I embarrassed myself the last time I went up to rob a homer [against the Mets at home over the weekend],” Pollock told Kirsten Watson on SportsNet LA after the game. “I was trying to tell the guys I had a little more hops than last time. I wanted to jump early so I didn’t hit the wall, like last time. It was fun. It’s always fun robbing home runs.”
“When I saw AJ going back, getting under the ball, and estimating his jump, I knew there was a chance. But you get the fans involved and there’s a little bit of confusion and worry,” Julio Urías said through a translator. “It was a really good play.”
Machado had a great defensive play of his own in the seventh. With runners on second and third base and one out, Chris Taylor’s sharp grounder was just inside third base. Machado’s diving stop briefly prevented two runs from scoring, and though Machado briefly left the field to get examined by team trainers during a pitching change, he stayed in.
Naturally, Pollock was the next batter, and with the bases loaded he singled to right to score those two runs that Machado denied. Pollock has 15 RBI in 18 games in August.
“Since the break, he’s played as good a baseball as anybody,” manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s hitting right-handers, left-handers, playing really good defense, being dynamic on the bases. He’s been slugging, but can downshift and get the base hit when we need it. Overall he’s just been a really good player.”
The Padres deployed a bullpen game on Tuesday, and for the first six innings held the Dodgers to just one hit, a solo home run by Will Smith in the second inning off nominal starter Pierce Johnson.
That was the only run of the game until the seventh, when the Dodgers got four hits off Daniel Camarena and Daniel Hudson to add those two insurance runs.
Two more scored in the eighth thanks to a Trea Turner double and another one of his cool slides as he stole third base. Two walks, then sacrifice flies by Justin Turner and Corey Seager widened the advantage.
Thanks in large part to Pollock’s home run robbery, the Padres didn’t score off Julio Urías in his first start back off the injured list. Urías only allowed one hit, a double by Eric Hosmer with one out in the fifth inning.
Urías escaped the jam by getting Ha-Seong Kim to ground out and pinch-hitter Adam Frazier to fly out to center, ending his night with five scoreless innings for the third time in four August starts.
A five-run lead got a little hairy in the eighth inning, when a walk by Corey Knebel and a two-run home run by Jurickson Profar put the Padres on the board. Then with two outs, Blake Treinen entered but walked both Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado to bring the tying run to the plate, but struck out Jake Cronenworth swinging to end the threat.
Kenley Jansen allowed a single to Wil Myers and walked Jurickson Profar after an 11-pitch battle to bring the tying run to the plate again in the ninth. But Jansen struck out Frazier on three pitches to end it.
Knebel, Treinen, and Jansen needed a combined 64 pitches to get the final six outs.
Home runs: Will Smith (19);
Manny Machado (23), Jurickson Profar (3)
WP — Julio Urías (14-3): 5 IP, 1 hit, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts
LP — Pierce Johnson (3-3): 1+ IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Sv — Kenley Jansen (28): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Walker Buehler gets the ball for the Dodgers on Wednesday night (7:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, ESPN). Left-hander Blake Snell starts for the Padres, having allowed four total runs in three starts against the Dodgers this season, with 19 strikeouts and seven walks in 15⅓ innings.