LOS ANGELES -- Not that there was ever much doubt -- but the Dodgers assured themselves of a winning season with a 6-3 victory over the Padres on Saturday night. And they did so with more than a month and a half left in the regular season.Yasiel Puig's aggressive baserunning
LOS ANGELES -- Not that there was ever much doubt -- but the Dodgers assured themselves of a winning season with a 6-3 victory over the Padres on Saturday night. And they did so with more than a month and a half left in the regular season.
Yasiel Puig's aggressive baserunning put L.A. on top, and Cody Bellinger added his 34th home run, as the Dodgers became the fastest National League team to 82 victories since the 1944 Cardinals. (The last AL team to reach the mark so quickly was the record-setting 2001 Seattle Mariners, who did so in 113 games. Los Angeles needed 116.)
"Every day we come in here and we're focused on getting a win that day," said outfielder Chris Taylor, who added an insurance run with a homer in the eighth inning. "We're not worried about yesterday or tomorrow or a three-game series."
The Dodgers, who lead the NL West by 17 games, are on pace for 115 wins, one off the Major League record. The Padres (51-65) are well out of the postseason race, but they have a chance to hand Los Angeles its first series defeat in over two months in Sunday's rubber match at Dodger Stadium.
Win No. 82 didn't come easy.
With the Dodgers trailing, 3-1, in the sixth, Corey Seager smacked a bases-loaded single to right. Two runs scored easily, and Puig broke for home when Seager got hung up in a rundown. Puig slid safely across the plate, as William Myers' throw sailed off-line.
"I saw Puig running out of the corner of my eye," Myers said. "I just pulled the throw a little bit. That was it. ... I should have made a better throw."
Bellinger would tack on an insurance blast an inning later, moving him within one home run of the franchise's rookie record, held by Hall of Famer Mike Piazza.
"It's just what we do," manager Dave Roberts said. "Just continue to get guys on base and continue to get base hits."
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Padres right-hander Jhoulys Chacin held the Dodgers in check over five innings, allowing one run on four hits. Since a nine-run shellacking on Opening Day at Dodger Stadium, he's posted a 1.17 ERA in his last three starts against the NL West leaders. But Los Angeles was quick to capitalize on his early exit Saturday.
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Wil power: The Padres scored a run apiece in the third, fourth and fifth innings, capped by Myers' shot off Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu. It was Myers' team-leading 24th homer, and his third opposite-field dinger this week -- more than he had in the season's first four months combined.
"I've had a couple months where it's been pretty tough," Myers said. "But I for sure feel something clicking for me. I'm seeing pitches better."
Nine lives: As the potential go-ahead run with two outs in the sixth inning, Puig found himself in a 1-2 hole against Padres righty Craig Stammen. He battled his way into a nine-pitch walk and made it count later in the frame when he scored the go-ahead run. It set up the Dodgers' 35th come-from-behind win. They only have 34 losses.
"Corey Seager is Corey Seager. It wasn't a huge mistake [pitch], but he got enough of it to get the ball into right field. It was one of those plays that spiraled on us after that." -- Padres manager Andy Green
"In my opinion, it was a big toss. A guy like Chase, who is respected around the game, I was shocked." -- Roberts, on Chase Utley being ejected with one out in the ninth after asking an umpire to adjust his positioning so the second baseman could see the batter
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With his stolen base in the third inning, Bellinger became the fifth player since 1901 with at least 33 homers and eight steals in his rookie season. He joins a rather elite group that includes Frank Robinson, Ron Kittle, Ryan Braun and Jose Canseco, all of whom won the Rookie of the Year Award.
The Padres' bullpen has struggled -- perhaps predictably -- since the deal that sent Brandon Maurer and Ryan Buchter to Kansas City last month. On Saturday night, Jose Torres put two men on base in the sixth, before Stammen surrendered Seager's single. Then, Carter Capps and Phil Maton allowed homers in the seventh and eighth, respectively.
"They're trying to find their footing," said Green. "They've got good stuff. In time, they're going to be fine, but they're being thrust into different roles right now."
Padres: Right-hander Luis Perdomo is coming off his best start of the second half, with six-plus innings of two-run ball in Cincinnati. In his second big league season, he's no longer on an innings limit, and he'll start Sunday's finale at 1:10 p.m. PT.
Dodgers:Kenta Maeda gets the ball for the Dodgers to close out their series against the Padres. The righty had a tough outing the last time he saw the Padres, giving up eight runs on five hits.
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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.
Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.