Max Scherzer was hit early and often, but the Dodgers offense powered a stunning 11-9 comeback win over the Padres on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.
Five home runs in the final two innings fueled the winning rally, including four in the eighth inning alone. Three were allowed by Emilio Pagán, who has allowed a whopping 16 homers in 62⅓ innings this season.
Max Muncy took him deep first, setting a new career high with his 36th home run. AJ Pollock followed with a home run of his own, his second of the game after a two-run job in the first. Pollock has five extra-base hits in five starts since returning from the injured list.
After a flyout, Cody Bellinger tied the game at 9-9 with a home run of his own. After pinch-hitter Justin Turner doubled to the left field wall, Padres manager Jayce Tingler mercifully removed Pagán.
“That was a huge momentum shift,” said Bellinger, whose last home run before Wednesday was August 11, 36 games ago. “That was a crazy inning, maybe the craziest I’ve ever been a part of.”
Nabil Crismatt followed, and he got Mookie Betts — who homered in the seventh — to fly out for the second out of the eighth. But then Corey Seager lined a ball over the right field wall, providing the winning margin.
Seager also doubled and scored in the first, and doubled home a run in the second. He’s hitting .348/.443/.618 in September.
“Corey is playing fantastic baseball across the board. He’s been in playoff mind, mode for four weeks,” manager Dave Roberts said before Wednesday’s game. “Corey for me, as far as everyday players, has really separated himself, so now it’s kind of on everyone else to kind of follow that lead.”
It wasn’t exactly an anniversary of the “4+1 Game,” as coined beautifully by Jon Weisman in 2006. But with Nomar Garciaparra, who hit the walk-off to beat the Padres in that classic game 15 years ago, in the SportsNet LA booth on Wednesday for another homer barrage.
This one wasn’t 4+1, but maybe it was 1+4.
The Dodgers’ win kept them two games behind the Giants, 1-0 winners over the Diamondbacks at Oracle Park. San Francisco leads the NL West by two games with just four to play, with a magic number of three to clinch the division.
Finishing in second place in the division would mean the Dodgers hosting the Cardinals for the NL wild card game next Wednesday, October 6 at Dodger Stadium.
“Looking at being a 100-win team and potentially being in a one-game, sudden death I don’t think is appealing to us or the Giants, but it is what it is,” Roberts said Wednesday.
Roberts has already said Scherzer will be his starter in a one-game scenario in the playoffs, and reiterated before Wednesday’s game he thought Scherzer was the NL Cy Young Award frontrunner. Award possibilities aside, Scherzer will be heading into next week coming off two of his worst starts of the season.
Victor Caratini homered off Scherzer in the second inning, one of three hits for the Padres catcher against Scherzer on Wednesday. Manny Machado hit a two-run shot in the third.
San Diego kept the heat on Scherzer, scoring in four different innings against him. He allowed six runs, five of which were earned. The Padres had 14 hard-hit balls — defined as any ball with an exit velocity of at least 95 mph — against Scherzer, his season high and more than any two of his starts since joining the Dodgers.
The sixth and final run scored off Scherzer came on a triple by Wil Myers, with a drive to centerfield that saw Gavin Lux crash into the wall and had to leave the game.
Scherzer allowed only six total runs over his first nine starts with the Dodgers, with two home runs against him in 58 innings. In his last two outings he’s allowed 11 runs (10 earned) in 10⅓ frames, with three home runs.
But the Dodgers came back to win last Thursday in Colorado, and with Wednesday’s comeback they remain undefeated (11-0) in Scherzer’s starts for them.
They can thank an offense that found the big inning not once, but twice.
The four-run first was just the third four-run inning this month for the Dodgers, and the first since September 12, coincidentally also a Scherzer start against the Padres at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers hadn’t even scored four runs in a game since Friday.
The winning rally saw five runs score in the eighth inning. That’s the 25th time the Dodgers have scored at least five runs in an inning, most in the majors.
The eleven runs scored were the most by the Dodgers since August 15. Six home runs are the second-most by the Dodgers this season, trailing only the eight hit on July 10.
Home runs: AJ Pollock 2 (19), Mookie Betts (22), Max Muncy (36), Cody Bellinger (10), Corey Seager (13); Victor Caratini (7), Manny Machado (28)
WP — David Price (5-2): 1 IP, zeroes
LP — Emilio Pagán (4-3): ⅓ IP, 4 hits, 4 runs
Sv — Kenley Jansen (37): 1 IP, 3 strikeouts
Tony Gonsolin starts the series finale on Thursday night (7:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network), with right-hander Vince Velasquez starting for the Padres.