The clutch throw and timely strike came the way of the San Diego Padres, who tied their NLDS series against the Los Angeles Dodgers one-on-one with a 5-3 victory Wednesday night.
The long ball was a theme in this game early on, but the Padres took advantage of it the most in the end. It was none other than their team – and potential National League MVP – Manny Machado who quickly got them on the board with a line shot just inside Dodgers legend Clayton’s left field foul post. Kershaw to make it 1-0.
Later in the game, after a few Dodgers threatened to retake the lead, Jake Cronenworth smashed a majestic shot from Blake Treinen into right field to put the Padres up 5-3, giving them the right amount of cushion.
But before that, it was a home and away game between these NL West rivals. Freddie Freeman hit his first playoff home run as a Dodger right after Machado, as the expected pitching duel between Kershaw and Yu Darvish didn’t quite go as some might have thought. That made it a 1-1 game late in the first.
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Then it was Max Muncy who took Darvish to center right field to give the Dodgers the lead.
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Another run would come off the bat from Machado in the top of the third inning, followed by Cronenworth’s first RBI of the game to take a 3-2 lead. The Dodgers would tie things up immediately, with Trea Turner flexing her muscles again after hitting a home run the night before.
But with all those early homers, it was a late-game clutch throw that set the Padres apart. Right-hander Robert Suarez stepped in in the most important way to allow his team to hold on to their lead and head to the bus for San Diego with a win under their belt.
The Padres took a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth but the Dodgers quickly found runners on base in the bottom frame. Will Smith and Muncy both singled, leaving the runners in the corners with no one. Considering the Dodgers’ potency at the flat, it looked like a draw would be a sigh of relief for San Diego.
Instead, Suarez was put into the game to relieve Darvish and went to work. He had Justin Turner strike out, then Gavin Lux went on a double play to avoid the jam.
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Late in the seventh inning, Suarez put himself in his own predicament with runners at second and third with one out. But again, he was no slouch in his aim as he kept the 4-3 lead intact.
Turner would retire, and after intentionally walking Freddie Freeman, forced Smith to line out to end the inning.
There was also flashing leather for the Dodgers, because things could have gotten worse. Brusdar Graterol gave up the lead early in the seventh, but on a tight play he made an unarmed catch and quickly launched home to pin Wil Myers trying to score. The next batter was Trent Grisham and he slammed a ball downfield to dead center, but Cody Bellinger followed him all the way and made a nice leaping grab.
Ultimately, however, the Padres’ bullpen didn’t have to go through those tough times.
Nick Martinez got the first two outs of the eighth inning before Josh Hader was brought in to close things out in a four-out save opportunity, the first since 2020. And that’s exactly what he did, by closing things down despite a brace from Freeman downstairs. of the ninth.
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Game 3 between these two NL powerhouses will be played at Petco Park in San Diego on Friday at 8:37 p.m. ET. This will be the Padres’ first home playoff game in 16 years.