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Fireworks elude Dodgers; lead shrinks to 1 1/2

September 22, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers continued playing to the competition level on Friday night, following up a series sweep of Colorado with a 5-3 loss to the last-place Padres at Dodger Stadium.With Colorado winning, the Dodgers' lead over the Rockies is 1 1/2 games and their magic number to clinch

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers continued playing to the competition level on Friday night, following up a series sweep of Colorado with a 5-3 loss to the last-place Padres at Dodger Stadium.
With Colorado winning, the Dodgers' lead over the Rockies is 1 1/2 games and their magic number to clinch the National League West remains at eight.
But in the past three weeks, the Dodgers have won series against Colorado (twice), Arizona and St. Louis, but lost series against the Mets and Reds and drew this defeat to the Padres in the final home series of the regular season.

"We want to be the spoilers for them, just to do it," said Padres starting pitcher Eric Lauer. "Just because it's them. It's definitely cool getting a win in that environment."
But why have the Dodgers had trouble against multiple teams with losing records lately?
"That's a tough one to figure out," said manager Dave Roberts. "I know coming off this last series we were playing good baseball and coming into tonight's game I thought we were ready to go. It just didn't happen that we scored more runs than they did, but I don't think it was a letdown situation. Tomorrow we'll be ready to go. It's a game we have to be ready to win."

Hunter Renfroe and Freddy Galvis homered for San Diego to counter the one-man show of Dodgers center fielder Enrique Hernandez, who saved one run with a spectacular diving catch in the second inning and gave the Dodgers a lead with his 21st home run in the third inning off Lauer. Hernandez, 0-for-8 against Lauer until the home run, also singled against reliever Matt Strahm.
"We won three of four against Arizona, then the Mets come to town and it's a different animal facing Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler," said Hernandez. "This guy tonight did a good job, but we've got to find a way to win a ballgame and tonight we didn't get it done."
The lead Hernandez provided didn't last long, as Franmil Reyes led off the fourth inning with a single, and one out later Renfroe lined a 3-2 slider inside the left-field foul pole for his 24th home run and a 2-1 San Diego lead.

Back-to-back 10-pitch walks followed, meaning five of the last six batters reached base and Dodgers starter Thomas Stripling was done. Stripling (8-5) was moved up a day to make this start, which lasted 3 1/3 innings, the same as each of his other two starts since returning from the disabled list with lower back pain. Pedro Baez came on to strand the two runners he inherited from Stripling.
"Got to take care of the Padres. Can't take anybody for granted, they're big leaguers and they're here for a reason," said Stripling. "Coming off a huge sweep of the Rockies, used a lot of energy, but I feel we showed up ready to play and they just beat us today."
Dodgers reliever Ryan Madson retired the three batters he faced in the sixth inning, but the Dodgers sent him out for the seventh and Galvis led off the inning by sending a shot just inside the right-field foul pole.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, pinch-hitter Joc Pederson doubled with one out and scored on Yasiel Puig's two-out flare single to left off Craig Stammen, his 15th RBI this month. But after a pair of infield singles and third baseman Justin Turner's second error of the game, William Myers doubled over Puig on an 0-2 pitch for a pair of insurance runs.

"I'll take full responsibility for tonight," said Turner. "You can't give any team extra outs."
Manny Machado's two-out RBI single in the bottom of the ninth finished the scoring.
Lauer lasted only five innings but got the win. He's 6-7 on the season and 3-0 against the Dodgers.

The Dodgers used nine pitchers in the game, tying their season high, set April 4 in Arizona (15 innings) and June 7 in Pittsburgh, where Daniel Hudson started and pitched one inning.
Dodgers center fielder Hernandez saved a run in the second inning after Cory Spangenberg reached first on Turner's throwing error with two outs. Galvis hit a gapper to right-center, but Hernandez sprinted to his left and made a diving catch to end the inning. According to Statcast™, it was a 5-star catch, the highest ranking, with only a 17 percent catch probability that required 75 feet in distance (77 covered), 4.2 seconds opportunity time and 28.2 feet/second sprint speed (27.0 is the MLB average).
"Off the bat I didn't think I had a chance," said Hernandez. "Just wanted to keep the guy on first from scoring and the ball kind of got caught up there. Just go hard until you can't get there."

Then with two out in the top of the ninth inning, San Diego having already scored twice and the bases loaded, pitcher Kirby Yates' grounder deep in the hole was backhanded by Dodgers shortstop Machado, who fired across his body with a throw to first that beat Yates, who stumbled over the bag and did a faceplant as the inning ended.
"Just trying to keep the game close and make the play, with the offense we have, because we're always just a couple hits away to get back in the game," said Machado. "Just trying to keep the score where it was."

"You guys can call it whatever you want. I have to do a better job catching the ball. I just haven't made some plays the past couple of days. No excuse for it. Got to do a better job." -- Turner, who has made six errors in the past eight games, on whether he's in a defensive slump
Rich Hill starts for the Dodgers in Saturday's 6:10 p.m. PT game against Jacob Nix and the Padres. Hill has given up four earned runs in each of last three starts, but he's been getting a windfall of run support of late as the Dodgers have scored a whopping 49 runs over the last five games he has started (9.8 per game).

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for since 2001.