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Julio Urías steadies ship, buoyed by J.D. Martinez home run as Dodgers sink Padres

San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES — Julio Urías allowed two early home runs but nearly nothing else, and picked up the slack on infield defense in the Dodgers’ 4-2 win over the Padres on Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers have won four straight games against the Padres, and in their five matchups so far this season have allowed only 12 total runs.

Both San Diego runs came on solo home runs, with Juan Soto hitting a laser into the visitors bullpen in the first inning and Ha-Seong Kim blasting a ball into the pavilion in the second. But after that, Urías settled down, striking out four and throwing 64 of his 86 pitches for strikes.

Max Muncy’s errant throw in the sixth inning turned a Manny Machado ground ball into a runner in scoring position, then Soto’s infield single put the tying runs at the corners. But Urías leapt off the mound to quickly snag this Xander Bogaerts comebacker, with his off-balance yet accurate throw starting a double play to end the inning.

“Obviously it was very frustrating because there was a lot of traffic. It was soft contact, but at the end of the day there’s players on base, and you need to make that pitch,” Urías said. “To get that double play was huge.”

The hit by Soto was the first for the Padres since Kim’s homer, one of only three hits allowed by Urías, who pitched seven innings for the second time in three starts.

The Dodgers before this week had a starting pitcher last into the seventh inning five times, never in consecutive games. But with Clayton Kershaw’s seven innings on Wednesday and Dustin May’s 6⅔ innings on Friday leading into Urías on Saturday, the Los Angeles bullpen hasn’t been taxed.

After Evan Phillips pitched a clean eighth, Brusdar Graterol got the first two outs in the ninth before a pair of singles put the tying run on base. The first of those was a grounder to third base by Bogaerts originally called the third out, but overturned on replay.

Lefty Caleb Ferguson entered to strikeout Jake Cronenworth to end the game, Ferguson’s first save since 2018.

“If you point to one area of the game during this stretch, it’s been the pitching,” manager Dave Roberts said of his team’s 12 wins in the last 14 games. “I think the bullpen has really come into its own. For me to look down there and see eight different guys that I feel I can trust, put in various spots and manage their workload, it’s really good.”

Ups and downs

Mistakes were prevalent throughout the game, with varying consequences. Joe Musgrove leaving an 0-2 slider in the heart of the plate to J.D. Martinez with two outs in the first inning was deposited into the left field pavilion, giving the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.

The home run for Martinez was his first since getting activated off the injured list Friday, after singling in the series opener.

The Dodgers’ chance to add to their lead with two outs and two runners on for Freddie Freeman in the second inning was neutered when Miguel Vargas was caught napping at second base, picked off by Musgrove and shortstop Xander Bogaerts. Freeman doubled to start the third inning, his fifth extra-base hit in the last five games.

In the third inning, Mookie Betts made his first real misplay at shortstop, throwing wildly, nowhere near first base on a grounder by Fernando Tatis Jr., in Betts’ fifth career start and seventh game at shortstop, all coming this year. But Urías got Manny Machado and Soto to prevent any damage.

Musgrove and catcher Austin Nola even walked off the mound in the third inning after a strikeout, thinking the second out of the frame was the third. Ten more pitches and a walk later, Musgrove did get to walk back to the dugout with a completed inning.

What I’m saying is this game was all over the place, at least until Urías provided the stability.

Of note

Saturday was the third time in 2023 the Dodgers wore their blue city connect “Los Dodgers” jerseys. All have come in Urías starts at Dodger Stadium, falling to the Cubs on April 16 and throttling the Phillies on May 2. Urías said he hasn’t made the call on wearing the jerseys, though the clubhouse staff has asked him his preference and he likes the blue jerseys.

Saturday particulars

Home runs: J.D. Martinez (5); Juan Soto (7), Ha-Seong Kim (4)

WP — Julio Urías (5-3): 7 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 4 strikeouts

LP — Joe Musgrove (1-1): 5⅔ IP, 8 hits, 4 runs, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts

Sv — Caleb Ferguson (1): ⅓ IP, 1 strikeout

Up next

The Dodgers go for the sweep on Sunday afternoon (1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), with Tony Gonsolin on the mound. San Diego will call up Ryan Weathers to start the finale, the fourth left-handed starter the Dodgers will have faced in five days.