Pollock robs Machado as Urías put up zeros

August 25th, 2021

SAN DIEGO -- When the Dodgers last visited Petco Park in June, the Padres celebrated a three-game sweep, while L.A. was searching for answers, closer to third place than first. The team’s effort was put into question, and third baseman Justin Turner expressed his eagerness to play the Padres again later in the season.

Since then, the Dodgers have been one of the best teams in baseball. The Padres have been one of the worst. Still, the Dodgers came into the three-game set wanting to avenge their early-season woes against San Diego.

“It’s a good ballclub over there and we seem to bring the best out of them,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said before the game. “But with that, I think as far as competitiveness, I think we’d all like to redeem ourselves and beat these guys.”

They got their chance on Tuesday and didn’t waste it, notching a 5-2 win at Petco Park. It was the Dodgers’ first win against the Padres since April 24. Los Angeles has now won 14 of its last 16 games.

With the Dodgers’ offense struggling to get much going early against the Padres’ bullpen, was still able to set the tone for Los Angeles. Urías, who was activated from the injured list before the game, was attacking the strike zone from the jump and had all three of his pitches working.

Urías only recorded eight swings and misses, but the left-hander kept the Padres’ offense off-balance during his five scoreless innings. He especially found success with the four-seamer, which he used to record six of his whiffs. Once he established the four-seamer, Urías was able to go to the curveball and changeup. He exited after 74 pitches.

“I felt really good,” Urías said in Spanish. “I feel like the three pitches were working the way I wanted them to. At the end of the night, I felt really good about everything.”

But while Urías was sharp on the mound, he got a major assist from outfielder . The left fielder made the play of the game in the fourth inning, robbing Manny Machado of a potential go-ahead two-run homer. Pollock went all the way to the wall before making the leaping grab, wrestling the ball away from a pack of fans in the left-field bleachers.

Pollock said that he wanted to redeem himself after looking “unathletic” as he attempted unsuccessfully to rob Pete Alonso’s homer on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. He did just that on Tuesday.

“I was thinking of the last time I tried to rob a homer and embarrassed myself,” Pollock laughed. “I kinda saw that it was carrying a little bit and I didn’t want to jump late like I did last time and run into the wall. The timing was right and I was able to make the grab.”

Pollock’s night didn’t end with the stellar defensive play, either. He continued his career-best season at the plate, giving the Dodgers much-needed insurance with a two-run single in the seventh inning. Through 97 games, Pollock has a .307 batting average, which would be the second highest in a season during his career.

“I think since the break, he’s played as good a baseball as anybody,” Roberts said. “He’s playing really good defense, being dynamic on the bases. He’s slugging, but can downshift and get a base hit when we need it. He has just been an overall really good player.”

The Dodgers were able to tack on two more runs in the eighth thanks to ’s leadoff double and speed. also flashed some heads-up baserunning and later scored on a sacrifice fly. That served as enough insurance for and , who didn’t have their best stuff, but were still able to shut the door.

With the way the season has unfolded, the Padres are no longer a team the Dodgers have to worry about atop the National League West standings. But with eight games left against San Diego over the next five weeks, Los Angeles is going to have to beat its division foe at a much higher clip than they did over the first two months.

Tuesday was a good start.