The Los Angeles Dodgers’ offense still isn’t firing on all cylinders.
They only needed two on Saturday night.
Mookie Bates’ three-run home run against Craig Stamen in the fifth inning gave the Dodgers a 5–4 win over the San Diego Padres before a declared crowd of 46,969 at Dodger Stadium.
Bates and Gavin Lux jointly scored 4 for 5 wickets. The rest of the Dodgers went to 0 for 20. But he provided substantial run support for starter Walker Buehler, who allowed only one home run to Fernando Tatis Jr. before the Dodgers’ bullpen was locked. The team’s 90th win of the season.
Bates’ 20th home run of the season broke the 2–2 draw and came on a single by Lux and a walk by Buehler. This marked the end of the road for Padres starter Chris Paddack (7-7).
Enter Stamen, who saw Bates drop a fastball in the middle of the plate on his first pitch, only to see it leave the park a moment later.
“He’s been really good at putting out the middle of the plate,” Bates said of Stamen. “I was just ready to hit.”
The Dodgers extended their lead 5–2 in the eighth inning when generally reliable reliever Blake Trainen ran into trouble.
Trainen bowled a fastball that caught the jersey of first batsman Adam Frazier. Frazier stole second base, then scored on a Manny Machado single. Machado himself stole second base and scored when Tatis threw a single into left field.
Suddenly, San Diego was down a run and a runner was in the scoring position and there were no outs. In the eighth inning, both runs were scored on Trennan, who allowed only two runs in 26 matches since the All-Star break.
“Blake has been such a worker,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s like I count on him every night. He didn’t have his best stuff. It felt good for us to pick him up.”
With a sprinter at third base and an out, right-hander Joe Kelly relieved Trennan and dismissed Will Myers and Tommy Pham to end the innings. Kelly needed only seven pitches to complete the task.
“Obviously Blake has been incredible for us all year,” Buehler said. “It’s huge for us to have Joe come in and pick him up. When Joe Kelly is healthy he’s pretty electric. He showed up tonight. We’re happy to have both of those players on our team.”
Pitching for the third day in a row, Kenley Jensen made a scoreless ninth inning to record his 32nd save of the season.
The Dodgers (90–53) finished 2 games behind the San Francisco Giants for first place in the National League West. They could complete a three-game sweep of the Padres (74-67) with a win in Sunday’s series finale.
The Dodgers used the bottom of their lineup to score two runs in the third innings, a missing component in their offensive for much of the past month.
Cody Bellinger, caught in a season-long meltdown, went for a walk. Bellinger should not have been in the starting lineup, as Roberts indicated on Friday that he prefers to give Bellinger an extra day to work out his 0 for 24 slides. But with Chris Taylor troubled by a neck injury, Bellinger moved to play center field and finished seventh.
The next batsman was Lax, who was making his second consecutive start in left field. With the Padres shifted to the right, Lux lines up a fastball on the empty left side of the field. Pham overrun the ball in left field, allowing Bellinger to score all the way from first base.
It was Lux’s first hit in a Dodger uniform since July 16. He took third base on a sacrificial bunt by Buehler, and scored on the sacrificial fly by Bates. The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead.
Buehler played seven innings and conceded two runs, two batsmen walked and five runs were scored. With one exception, he made pitches when needed.
In the third inning, Buehler threw a first pitch slider to Machado at the plate; Former Dodger lines the ball from the left side of the infield for a single. Buehler starts the next batsman, Tatis, with a slider on the plate. That ball came to rest an estimated 400 feet from home plate over the center field fence. Tatis’s National League-leading 38th home run of the season tied the game at 2.
In his shortest start of the season – with a three-innings loss on Sunday in San Francisco – with first place on the line, Bühler recovered the form that made him a Cy Young Award contender.
“At some point some of you will have to get rid of it, or forget about it,” Bühler said of his previous debut. “We have a lot of guys who are bowling well. I want to be a part of that group. Maybe not my best, but thankfully enough with our guilt and the people behind me. ”