MONTERREY, Mexico -- Eric Hosmer took a moment to savor his fifth-inning homer on Sunday afternoon. Even for an accomplished big leaguer like Hosmer, it's not everyday he gets to enjoy a moment like that in a setting like that.And so, as Hosmer was halfway down the third-base line, he
MONTERREY, Mexico -- Eric Hosmer took a moment to savor his fifth-inning homer on Sunday afternoon. Even for an accomplished big leaguer like Hosmer, it's not everyday he gets to enjoy a moment like that in a setting like that.
And so, as Hosmer was halfway down the third-base line, he slowed his gait and broke into a grin. He pounded his chest twice as he crossed the plate before pointing toward the sky. The fans at Estadio de Beisbol in Monterrey echoed their approval.
Hosmer's go-ahead dinger was enough offense to back rookie left-hander Eric Lauer, who was excellent over six scoreless frames. Lauer picked up his first career win as the Padres clinched the Mexico Series with a 3-0 victory over the Dodgers in the rubber match.
"We realized this series was going to be special," Hosmer said. "We wanted to come here and put on a good show for 'em. I'm happy we were on top."
There aren't many hitters in baseball as red-hot as Hosmer these days. Over the past two weeks, he's reached base in 26 of his last 46 plate appearances, and his homer was his third in the past five games.
Ahead in the count, 3-1, Hosmer sat on a fastball from Dodgers left-hander Tony Cingrani. He crushed it 10 rows deep, just to the right of the batter's eye. Lauer, the Padres' No. 12 prospect, had the runs he needed.
Lauer worked his way into plenty of trouble on Sunday, putting men in scoring position in each of the first five innings. He also worked his way out of it. Time and again, the 22-year-old rookie made out pitches when he needed them.
"You just know you have to bear down in certain points and make pitches," Lauer said. "In those moments, you have to trust in your teammates a little more, because if you try to be too fine, you're going to end up walking guys, getting into worse situations."
After struggling in his first two outings, this was the performance the Padres had been waiting for. Lauer surrendered nine runs over his first four big league innings. In 10 frames since, he's held the opposition scoreless.
The Padres were desperate for a big-time effort from Lauer, too, after the bullpen was forced to eat 6 2/3 frames in a win over the Dodgers on Saturday. Sitting on 87 pitches, Lauer hit for himself in the fifth, then worked around an error for a scoreless sixth.
"We needed it," Padres manager Andy Green said. "I don't think a single inning came easy for him. … But overall, he steps up and makes big pitches when he has to. That's a really encouraging thing to see."
Craig Stammen, Kirby Yates and Brad Hand each worked scoreless innings, cementing San Diego's first series victory in its last six. Hand ended the game by whiffing Cody Bellinger, as an airhorn blared in the stands.
Hours after Hand's final pitch, the party raged on in the stadium's main concourse, where a local band played music. One large group of Padres fans spotted another, and they approached each other, cheering: "Vamos Padres." Clap, clap, clap clap clap.
"What a great atmosphere," Green said afterward. "For our club to come down here to Monterrey, enjoy the fans, enjoy the city. We were honored to be here, and it was a lot of fun for us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Tacking on: It was Travis Jankowski whose one-out single set the stage for Hosmer's blast. Two innings later, Jankowski got things started once again. He chopped a triple into the right-field corner and scored three batters later on Franchy Cordero's opposite-field single.
Since his callup, Jankowski has started three games in the leadoff spot. He's 4-for-11 (.364) with a pair of triples and two walks. He'll remain atop the Padres' order against right-handed pitching for the foreseeable future.
Eight's for Yates: Yates has battled right ankle soreness for most of the season, but he's gutted through it recently, and he's been as sharp as ever. The Padres' eighth-inning guy ran into a bit of trouble on Sunday, putting two men on base with one out. But Yates -- who had already whiffed Alex Verdugo -- struck out the next two hitters. In 66 innings with the Padres, Yates has now punched out 99 hitters -- a rate of a strikeout and a half per inning.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Since the start of the 2017 season, no National League reliever has generated more swings and misses with a breaking pitch than Hand has with his slider. On Sunday, it was as nasty as it's ever been. Hand set down Chase Utley and Matt Kemp looking, before Bellinger went down swinging. At some point during their at-bats, all three Dodgers hitters had their knees buckled.
HE SAID IT
"I don't think our team has ever been impacted by a tough loss. I don't feel that from this group of guys, I don't feel a hangover effect. They always show up ready to play the next day. … These were two days of high-quality baseball." -- Green on his team's bounceback efforts after Friday's Dodgers no-hitter
Tyson Ross makes his long-awaited return to Petco Park for his first start there since April 13. Since then, he's flirted with a no-hitter in Arizona and dominated the Giants in San Francisco, cementing himself as an effective starter once again, following two years of injuries and struggles. Meanwhile, the Nationals send San Diego State product Stephen Strasburg to the hill on Monday with first pitch slated for 7:10 p.m. PT.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.