Although the Padres and the Dodgers know it's only spring, every remarkable thing that happened in their seven games over the past 10 days proved this matchup was far more important than your average April baseball.
When a distinctly autumnal chill settled in Chavez Ravine while their seventh exhausting meeting stretched into extra innings Sunday night, both teams and their fans could be forgiven for thinking ahead to the bigger, colder nights possibly on the way.
“Definitely a good preview of what should come in October,” San Diego's Eric Hosmer said.
The Padres could take plenty of extra warmth back home after a stirring comeback and an impressive finish gave them an early advantage in this unfolding showdown.
Fernando Tatís Jr. scored on Hosmer’s sacrifice fly in the 11th inning, and the Padres rallied from a late six-run deficit for an 8-7 victory over Los Angeles and their fourth win in seven largely thrilling games against the Dodgers.
Manny Machado delivered the tying RBI single in the ninth inning for the Padres, who claimed their third win in this four-game series between Southern California rivals in appropriately dramatic fashion.
“I think we certainly made a statement,” said Hosmer, who also had an RBI single in the eighth. “The whole baseball world was watching these games, and I think we showed we can compete with these guys. We respect who they are, we respect what they’ve done, but we’re certainly not going to back down from them.”
The Padres trailed 7-1 entering the seventh, but scored two runs in each of the next three innings to force the defending World Series champs into extras. After scoring an 11th-inning run without a hit, San Diego won for the fourth time its last five matchups with the powerhouse Dodgers, who took the first two at Petco Park last weekend.
"For us, it felt like a lot of missed opportunities, and then some good moments, but we weren’t able to shut the door on them when we needed to," said Chris Taylor, who hit a three-run homer in the sixth for Los Angeles. “We know we didn’t play our best baseball, and that’s one where we’ve got to take care of business and win.”
Los Angeles failed to score in the 10th with the bases loaded and one out. Tim Hill (1-2) escaped the jam by striking out pinch-hitter Clayton Kershaw and rookie DJ Peters, who could have ended the game if he hadn’t swung at a fastball well above the strike zone on a full count.
Tatís started the 11th on second, stole third and scored easily on Hosmer's long fly off Garrett Cleavinger (0-1), who was making his Dodgers debut and second career major league appearance.
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Mark Melancon then earned his eighth save by retiring Mookie Betts and Corey Seager with two runners on to secure the rubber match, which lasted a few seconds less than five hours.
“I think that the net (result) is they outplayed us,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who didn't hide his distaste for his bullpen's poor performance. “All the games were close, but over seven games, they outplayed us. ... It's more about us. When we pitch well, we win.”
Pinch-hitter Sheldon Neuse homered before Taylor's three-run shot in a five-run sixth inning by the Dodgers.
But Victor Caratini drove in two runs in the seventh for San Diego, and he singled and scored in the ninth before Machado brought home Tatís, who had hit his fifth homer in three games way back in the fourth inning.
The Dodgers’ bullpen wasted an outstanding start by Dustin May, who yielded two hits and struck out a career-best 10 over six dominant innings.
Joe Musgrove labored through three innings for the Padres, giving up two runs and three hits on 77 pitches — but the Dodgers also stranded nine runners in the first five innings.
This high-intensity series even had more drama between games.
Dodgers starter Trevor Bauer got on social media to question whether Tatís peeked back at the catcher's signal before his second homer Saturday. Bauer warned that stealing signs is “the type of stuff that would get you hit in other games.”
Bauer also quote-tweeted a video of the incident with a message to Tatís: “If you need to know what pitch is coming that badly, just ask daddy nicely.”
Tatís replied with a photoshopped version of himself holding a child with Bauer's face, along with the caption “Tranquilo hijo" (calm down, son).
“I think that was maybe a little bit of confusion on their part,” Hosmer said afterward. “I don’t think (Tatís) was really looking at signs. I have nothing but respect for Trevor.”
Padres: LF Tommy Pham pulled up with a strained left calf while running to first in the second inning.
Dodgers: Roberts had to go deeper than he wanted into his bullpen because David Price strained his hamstring while pitching the seventh inning.
Padres: After their first off day in 18 days, Chris Paddack (1-2, 3.50 ERA) takes the mound Tuesday in Phoenix when they open a two-game series against the Diamondbacks.
Dodgers: Julio Urías (3-0, 2.81 ERA) returns to the mound for the first time since striking out 11 Mariners over seven scoreless innings when Los Angeles opens a three-game home series with Cincinnati.