Padres slug way back, then Merrill beats LA in extras

April 13th, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- Two weeks into the season, the Padres are proving no deficit is too big for their offense to overcome.

hit the go-ahead RBI single in the top of the 11th inning as the Padres rallied from a four-run deficit to storm back and beat the Dodgers, 8-7, on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

The Padres hit four home runs on the night, capped by ’s two-run shot in the seventh inning that pulled them into a 7-7 tie. , and also homered as the Padres won for the third time in the last four games.

“We're a really good offensive team,” Tatis said. “We have ballplayers. We have guys that know how to play the game of baseball and that are gonna do what the game is asking for during the situations of the game. That's gonna carry us for the long run.”

Shohei Ohtani, Mookie Betts, Max Muncy and Teoscar Hernández all homered in the first three innings off Padres starter Michael King to help the Dodgers race out to an early 7-3 lead, but the Padres chipped away.

Cronenworth got the comeback started with a solo home run in the sixth inning. Merrill drew a one-out walk and scored on a Xander Bogaerts groundout in the seventh to cut the deficit to 7-5. Tatis stepped up one batter later and launched a dramatic game-tying, two-run homer that traveled a Statcast-projected 413 feet into the left-center-field bleachers.

“He’s a killer,” Padres manager Mike Shildt said of Tatis. “He’s a stone-cold killer.”

The Padres’ bullpen held the Dodgers in check, stranding the go-ahead run on base in the seventh, eighth and 10th innings to buy the offense time. Merrill broke the stalemate with a two-out single through the open left side of the infield to score automatic runner José Azocar from second, and Robert Suarez retired the side in the bottom of the 11th to secure the victory.

The comeback came just four days after the Padres erased an 8-0 deficit to beat the Cubs, 9-8, on Monday at Petco Park.

“That's kind of the identity of our offense,” Cronenworth said. “No matter what the score is, we're not giving at-bats away. Guys are going up there with the same intent no matter what the score is, and I think that holds a lot of weight.”

For Merrill -- San Diego's No. 2 prospect and No. 12 overall, per MLB Pipeline -- the game-winning hit capped his latest standout game in his debut season. The 20-year-old rookie also made a diving catch to rob Shohei Ohtani of extra bases in the second inning. He kick-started the seventh-inning rally that tied it with his one-out walk, and his winning hit came off veteran lefty Alex Vesia on an 0-2 count.

“He's a superstar in the making,” said Machado, who also made his Major League debut at 20. “Little by little, you see it every single day. I mean, he came up with a big hit off a tough lefty there in a big situation. He's got it.”

While Merrill provided the winning hit, it wouldn’t have been possible if not for the work of the Padres’ pitching staff. After King surrendered seven runs in the first three innings, the five relievers held the Dodgers scoreless over the final six frames to give the offense time to chip away and rally back.

“Winners find solutions,” Shildt said. “It's a mindset. Guys competing in any and every situation. And they're playing the game the right way, regardless of whether they're up, down. They're playing it to compete and win. It's a great mindset that I'm proud of the guys to have. It's good to have at the beginning of the season and it's only gonna get better.”