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Home runs the difference as Dodgers beat Padres

LA takes series opener

MLB: San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — It took four tries, but the Dodgers finally scored more than two runs in the first nine innings of a game against the Padres. Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman hit back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning in the Dodgers’ 4-2 win over their fellow division contenders on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

In a tie game after Blake Snell pitched six innings, the Padres brought in left-hander Tim Hill, who got the first hitter he faced, Trayce Thompson, who was 0-for-2 to stretch his hitless streak to 30 at-bats. But that left the top of the order for Hill, the the Dodgers climbed it thanks to Betts and Freeman.

The move to go to Hill kept Thompson in the game, while the Dodgers had James Outman, Jason Heyward, and David Peralta at the ready to pinch-hit had Padres manager Bob Melvin brought in a righty to start the seventh.

“We had some strength on our bench on the left side, and I think BoMel made a calculated decision to keep those guys on the bench,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Fortunately, Freddie and Mookie performed.”

The Dodgers had their chances against Snell, but only managed two runs, when Freeman’s double in the third inning brought home Thompson and Betts, each of whom walked. For a while, those two runs looked like they might hold up.

When the Dodgers reshuffled their rotation last week, one of the benefits was ensuring Dustin May would pitch twice against the Padres in the two teams’ consecutive weekend series.

May struck out only three on Friday, but kept the Padres grounded nearly all night. He got 11 groundball outs, including either assisting or getting the putout on a grounder in each of the first three innings, complete with various lunges and stretches, sometimes with arms akimbo.

It took until his 13th inning against the Padres over the last seven days for San Diego to score off of him.

With two outs in the seventh and a 2-0 lead, Xander Bogaerts doubled to center and Matt Carpenter walked. May was able to pitch deep into the seventh — 6⅔ innings is the second-longest start of his career (and season) — because he was efficient. May’s 90th pitch was his last, but Ha-Seong Kim hammered it into the left field corner for a game-tying double.

“Two runs against that lineup — that’s a really good lineup,” Freeman said of May. “I thought he pitched great.”

Caleb Ferguson, fresh off the paternity list, stranded Kim to end the seventh, and got the first out of the eighth but not before allowing two singles to put the tying runs on base.

Evan Phillips rescued Ferguson by inducing a double play from Manny Machado to end the eighth on only three pitches. That left plenty in the tank for the ninth, when Phillips got through unscathed for his seventh save.

Friday particulars

Home runs: Mookie Betts (8), Freddie Freeman (7)

WP — Caleb Ferguson (3-0): ⅔ IP, 2 hits, 2 strikeout

LP — Tim Hill (1-1): ⅓ IP, 2 hits, 2 runs

Sv — Evan Phillips (7): 1⅔ IP, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts

Up next

The Dodgers and Padres will play on big Fox on Saturday (4:15 p.m., with Joe Davis and John Smoltz on the call). Julio Urías starts for the home team against Joe Musgrove in a rematch of last Sunday night in San Diego.