LOS ANGELES -- The surge continued Friday night with the Dodgers beating the Padres, 4-1, their seventh win in eight games, the roll taking place with 60 percent of the starting rotation on the disabled list.It was Thomas Stripling's turn to step up, again, with a career-high 10 strikeouts in
LOS ANGELES -- The surge continued Friday night with the Dodgers beating the Padres, 4-1, their seventh win in eight games, the roll taking place with 60 percent of the starting rotation on the disabled list.
It was Thomas Stripling's turn to step up, again, with a career-high 10 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings, supported by Matt Kemp's three-run blast and a solo shot by Kiké Hernandez. Stripling started the season in the bullpen, but he's pitching like he wants to stay in the rotation.
That was always the plan for Stripling until he blew out his elbow in the spring of 2014. He had Tommy John surgery, was converted into a reliever and given only an occasional emergency start, all along hoping management would someday trust his ability, as well as his durability.
With Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu on the DL, maybe Stripling's time has finally come.
Against the Padres, he allowed only an unearned run on a Yasiel Puig misplay. He threw a career-high 105 pitches and issued no walks.
"At this level, you get guys out, you get more confident," said Stripling. "You first come up, 'OK, do I belong?' Then you start to log innings and you switch roles -- in my case -- and come back to the old role, you get some comfort and snowball some good outings in a row."
In his last three starts, Stripling has 26 strikeouts and no walks in 18 innings. On the season, he is 2-1 with a 1.74 ERA, 50 strikeouts and nine walks in 41 1/3 innings.
"Confidence," manager Dave Roberts said, when asked the secret to Stripling's sudden success. "His ability to attack the strike zone with any of his four pitches. He's got great tempo, he gets the grounder and strikeout when he needs to. The mound presence was always there, but the confidence is real."
In addition to Stripling, the Dodgers have received big-time starts lately from rookie Walker Buehler, veteran Kenta Maeda and tough-luck Alex Wood. Surviving three starters on the disabled list is a testament to the organizational starting pitching depth that was suspect going into the season.
"It's the starting pitching," Roberts said when discussing the last eight games, during which Dodgers pitchers have a posted a 1.38 ERA. "It takes the pressure off everyone. You get a rested bullpen. Get a lead early and not have to hit for the pitcher makes it a lot easier for everyone.
"It says a lot about the players and organization. Walker and Ross were sixth and seventh on the depth chart out of Spring Training. For those guys to play huge roles speaks a lot. These guys, every single time they take the mound, you expect to win. A lot of credit goes to those two guys."
In the first, Chris Taylor and Justin Turner worked San Diego starter Clayton Richard for back-to-back walks on 3-2 pitches. Kemp then launched his three-run blast to center field, 410 feet with a 31-degree launch angle, according to Statcast™.
Kemp is 15-for-26 with four homers and 12 RBIs in six games against San Diego this year. After going 3-for-4 on the night, his batting average is .338.
"It's always good to win. Especially as bad as we started off," said Kemp. "We're having fun right now."
Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth inning for his 11th save and fifth in the last week. Over his last 15 appearances, Jansen has allowed one earned run over 16 innings for a 0.56 ERA with 18 strikeouts.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
The Padres received a gift run courtesy of Puig in the top of the third inning. Manuel Margot led off with a double down the right-field line. Puig hustled to cut off the ball at the box-seat railing, but fumbled it. He stood disgustedly for a moment without reaching down for the ball, and when Margot saw that, he hustled to third, later scoring the unearned run on a one-out groundout by Travis Jankowski.
Roberts was not pleased.
"Initially, it started to be a great play, turning a double into a single, got to it, made a great effort play cutting the ball off," said Roberts.
"Once he didn't come up with it, he turned a physical mistake into a mental mistake and turned that double into a triple and cost us a run. The thing is, he's too good to have mental lapses like that, too good of a player."
HE SAID IT
"When you have guys like Kershaw, Hyun-Jin and Rich go down, it's nice to have the depth. It's been fun to see guys go out and have success." -- Stripling
With right-hander Jordan Lyles starting for the Padres Wood on Saturday, the Dodgers will likely return many of their left-handed hitters to the lineup for the 7:10 p.m. PT game. That includes former Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal, second baseman Chase Utley and possibly Player Page for Max Muncy, who has played both corners in the infield and outfield this season.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.