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Dodgers chase Blake Snell & Julio Urías continues his solo brilliance

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

The Dodgers got a rare outburst of runs against Blake Snell, riding a fifth-inning rally to beat the Padres 8-4 on Saturday night at Petco Park. The win lowered the Dodgers’ magic number to four to clinch the National League West.

Saturday had all the makings of a typical Snell start against the Dodgers. He allowed only nine runs in his first nine starts against them, including the postseason. Two of those starts were injury-shortened, but still covered 40⅔ innings. Though four innings in this one, he allowed only one, with five strikeouts, consistent with his 37.5-percent career strikeout rate against them.

In the fifth inning, a familiar pattern emerged. Trayce Thompson fell behind 0-2 but earned a walk. Austin Barnes doubled into the corner, extending his hit streak to seven games, with extra-base hits in three of his four September starts. This became a 1-1 game with runners on second and third for the Dodgers, with Snell about to face the top of the order for a third time.

That wasn’t the exact scenario of Game 6 of the 2020 World Series, but it was close enough (just two batters off, regarding the score). On that night in Texas, after a hit by Barnes, Snell wasn’t allowed to face the Dodgers a third time through. On Saturday, he remained in the game, and paid the price.

Mookie Betts walked on four pitches to load the bases, then fell behind 3-1 to Trea Turner. Snell got 14 combined swinging strikes on his slider and curve, but couldn’t get them over in the fifth. Turner hammered a fastball for a three-run double, and Freddie Freeman followed with another double on a fastball.

All of a sudden, Snell’s night was done, 27 pitches into the fifth with nobody out, and five runs charged to his ledger. Saturday was the first time Snell has allowed more than two runs to the Dodgers.

That was more than enough for Julio Urías, who seems to have roughly the same outing every time out no matter how his stuff is playing.

It wasn’t always the smoothest ride for Urías, who walked two in a 25-pitch first inning. He escaped without damage, yelling in a combination of disgust and relief on his way back to the dugout. In the second inning, a single by José Azocar on an 0-2 fastball caused Urías to pace around the mound, even faking to throw his glove.

Urías settled in after that, picking off Azocar to end the inning. Urías pitched seven innings, and has lasted at least six innings four straight starts and nine times in his last 10.

He allowed solo home runs to Manny Machado in the third and sixth innings, continuing a remarkable stretch. After a second-inning RBI single by Twins centerfielder Gilberto Celestino on August 9, Urías has pitched 35 innings and allowed a total of five runs, all on solo home runs.

The two runs against Urías were his most allowed since July 29. He maintained his lead among National League pitchers with a 2.30 ERA.

Temperatures cooled, but Freeman didn’t

Freeman homered and singled in the series opener in San Diego on Friday, then drove in the Dodgers’ first run Friday with a single in the third inning after Trea Turner tripled.

His double in the fifth was his MLB-best 45th of the season, fifth-most by a Dodger in a single season. With 24 games remaining on the schedule, Freeman is four behind Shawn Green’s LA Dodgers mark set in 2003, and seven behind Johnny Frederick’s franchise-record 52 doubles, hit in 1929 for Brooklyn.

Freeman homered again in the seventh, again driving in Turner, who walked. Freeman on the night had four hits, giving him an MLB-leading 178 on the season, and drove in four runs. Freeman has five games with four hits this season, and four games with at least four RBI.

Freeman also leads the majors with a .330 batting average. If a Dodgers first baseman leading baseball with a .330 batting average sounds familiar, well here are Freeman’s most similar players by age, per Baseball Reference:

Source: Baseball Reference

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Freddie Freeman (19); Manny Machado 2 (28)

WP — Julio Urías (16-7): 7 IP, 5 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

LP — Blake Snell (6-9): 4+ IP, 7 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts

Up next

Andrew Heaney will try to turn off the home run spigot in Sunday afternoon’s series finale (1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), with right-hander Joe Musgrove pitching for San Diego.