LOS ANGELES —
Literally speaking, the Padres didn’t have to win on Wednesday night.
But they had to win.
And they did, in the kind of back-and-forth, back-and-forth, back-and-forth thriller that turns the postseason into a mental rut and churns every internal organ.
“It’s playoff baseball,” Manny Machado said afterwards. “Playing against a good team. … You have to be locked in. And exciting. We play for that all year.”
At the end of three hours, 34 minutes of a tie or a batter’s tie that was tied for most of the night sent the Padres’ 5-3 victory over the Dodgers in Game 2 of the National League Division Series in the Dodger Stadium moved the series to Petco Park with the teams tied per game. (Box score.)
Game 3 is scheduled for 5:37 PM Friday with Game 4 at 6:37 PM Saturday.
“1-1, back home,” said Machado. “So that’s huge.”
Certainly, an unlikely climb would have been necessary if the Padres had lost.
Major League Baseball began playing best-of-five series after the season in 1969. 144 such series have been completed and 76 of the 86 times a team has won the first two games, that team has won the series.
The Padres are said to have tried to become the 11th team to defy odds – trying to do so against a team that won 111 regular season games (more than all but four teams in history) and came in after the Padres on Wednesday. to have been defeated 15 times in 20 meetings in 2022.
The Padres had three one-point leads on Wednesday. The Dodgers came back twice to tie the game.
They threatened to do this twice after the Padres took their 4-3 lead in the sixth.
But reliever Robert Suarez suppressed both threats, one in the sixth inning to replace Yu Darvish and the other of his own accord in the seventh.
Nick Martinez retired the side in the eighth before giving up a single, and Josh Hader earned the save by recording the last four outs in his first appearance longer than one inning since the 2020 postseason.
“There was a lot of drama,” said Padres manager Bob Melvin. “We are taking the lead. Suddenly they come back. It seemed like it went back and forth the whole game, and then you’ve got two out for sure now, none in the ninth, and (Freddie) Freeman hits a 0-2 throw hanging around his chin which I don’t know how it comes in fact, and then suddenly you’re one roll away from getting into trouble again. It’s probably as back and forth a game as you’re going to see. There’s a lot of drama in it. Nice win.”
Jake Cronenworth’s solo homerun in the eighth made it 5-3, the first time the game had more than a one-run difference.
There were four solo home runs and six total runs scored in the first three innings.
The Padres went up 1-0 on the home run by Manny Machado in the top of the first. The Dodgers came right in the bottom of the first inning on Freeman’s homer and led in the second on Max Muncy’s homer. The Padres scored twice in the top of the third on three hits and a groundout, including an RBI double by Machado. The Dodgers tied the game 3-3 on Trea Turner’s solo homerun in the bottom of the inning.
The fourth inning was the first without scoring by either team.
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw extended that to fifth, falling back six times in a row on what turned out to be the end of his night.
Darvish walked Mookie Betts to start the bottom of the fifth inning before Austin nailed Nola Betts to the sack trying to steal with a perfect pitch. Turner hit a hard grounder that brought down Machado at third base and threw it across the window for the out before Freeman flied out to midfield.
An error helped the Padres to a run in the sixth, and two great defensive plays prevented them from scoring more.
Brandon Drury greeted reliever Brusdar Graterol with a single that flared up into midfield, and Cronenworth replaced him first after his grounder forced Drury to retire at second. Wil Myers followed with a grounder to Turner at short stop. As Cronenworth sprinted into second, Turner tried to rush and let the ball slip off his glove and roll away from him.
Jurickson Profar followed with a single to right field that scored Cronenworth and moved Myers to third place.
Trent Grisham followed with a bunt to the left and Myers headed home with a safety squeeze. Graterol jumped off the mound, grabbed the ball with his bare hand and threw low and straight in front of the plate, where catcher Will Smith easily tagged Myers out.
The next batter, Nola, lined a 0-2 pitch to the midfield ring that Cody Bellinger spun three times on his way to make the flyout to avoid scoring two runs and ending the inning.
Melvin sent out Darvish to pitch the sixth, and a single by Smith that Cronenworth probably should have played on and a single by Muncy put runners at the corners with no outs. Melvin then turned to Suarez, who struckout Justin Turner and gave Gavin Lux on a double play started by Cronenworth.
After Yency Almonte struckout Ha-Seong Kim, Soto and Machado in the top of the seventh, the Dodgers put Suarez in danger again in the bottom of the inning.
Bellinger lined a single with one out to left field and moved to third base on a double by Betts who simply kept running away from Grisham as he sprinted to the hole in left field and dove. Grisham didn’t make the catch, but his glove snapped at the ball and slowed it down enough for Profar, who was backing up the game, to get and prevent Bellinger from scoring.
Turner grounded out to Machado, freezing the runners, and Smith lined out to Grisham to end the inning.
“I think that was a big difference in the game,” Machado said. “I think they run into one or even score one, I think the game changes a lot. He’s been able to put a stop to it. He didn’t just do it once, but he did it twice.”
After Gavin Lux’s two-out single on Martinez, manager Bob Melvin walked over to the mound and made the move he said he could at one point by calling out Hader.
The lefty walked Trayce Thompson before flying out pinch-hitter Austin Barnes into midfield. Facing the top of the Dodgers order in the ninth, he got Betts on a pop-up, struckout Trea Turner and gave up a double to Freeman before Smith flied out to Soto in right field.
The Padres’ bullpen has not allowed a run in 9 1/3 innings in the series. Besides the four runs that Adrian Morejon gave up without a record in the seventh inning of Saturday’s loss of Game 2 in the wildcard series against the Mets, Padres reliezers allowed one run in 17 2/3 postseason innings.
“I mean, those guys have been really good,” Darvish said. “It’s just fun to watch them.”