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Padres Even NLDS With Dodgers 5-3 After Back-and-Forth Battle in Game 2

The most important moment of Game 1 of the National League Division Series between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers came in the sixth inning.

The Padres had cut the Dodgers five-run lead down to two, and had runners on first and second with one out. They had stolen back all the momentum and were primed to complete a remarkable comeback.

A hard one-hopper off the bat of Wil Myers appeared upon first glance to be a headed towards right field, but Dodgers’ second baseman Gavin Lux snagged it, turned 270 degrees to his left and fired towards second base where Trea Turner was waiting to turn a double play. The defensive play of the game shifted the momentum back to the Boys in Blue who hung on for the victory.

Lightning would strike twice in Game 2, only this time it was the Padres who turned the tables on their division rivals.

The Dodgers had runners on first and third with one out and ironically, it was Lux at the plate this time. The tying run was 90-feet away. Instead of bringing him home, Lux grounded into a 4-6-3 double-play that shifted the momentum back to the Padres.

“Baseball has a funny way of going around the world like that,” said Lux, commenting on how the double-play came full circle on him. “That’s definitely not what you want to do right there.”

For the Padres, it was exactly what they wanted to do there, and it helped keep them out of an elimination game.

“That was the play of the game,” said Padres’ manager Bob Melvin. “There are certain moments that get lost in the shuffle with the drama at the end of the game, but strikeout double play and you have to be perfect on it. He has to get rid of it beautifully, and Kimmy [Ha-Seong Kim] has to get to the bag and get rid of it with a runner coming down his throat. That is the play of the game at the time and got the momentum back in our dugout.”

San Diego would hold on to that momentum and stave off the Dodgers in Game 2, tying the best-of-five NLDS at one game apiece, flipping the script on L.A. for a 5-3 victory over their own.

“It was a back-and-forth game,” said Melvin. “There was a lot of drama. We take a lead, then all of a sudden they come right back…It’s probably as back and forth a game as you’re going to see. A lot of drama to it. Fun win.”

The back and forth battle began off the bat of the much-maligned Manny Machado, who crushed a hanging slider from former teammate Clayton Kershaw deep into the short-porch in left field that gave the Padres their first lead of the series 1-0.

Freddie Freeman followed with a game-tying blast of his own to straightaway center in the bottom half of the first inning.

The solo shot was Freeman’s 10th career postseason homer and his first with the Dodgers. Six of Freeman’s 10 playoff homers have either been with or against the Dodgers.

“We created opportunities tonight,” said Freeman after the loss. “We didn’t cash in on them today, but if we do that on Friday [in Game 3], we’ll be just fine.”

Division Series - San Diego Padres v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game Two
Yu Darvish #11 of the San Diego Padres reacts after a home run by Freddie Freeman #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

The Dodgers did not have Clayton Kershaw or Max Muncy last postseason, but the both players had their fingerprints all over Game 2.

Kershaw appeared to be vexed by his postseason failures of the past early in the game. Machado continued to haunt the three-time Cy Young Award winner like the memory of some former happiness. Following his first inning homer, Machado hit a double down the left field line in the third inning that eventually gave the Padres a 3-1 lead.

Kershaw settled in after San Diego scored those runs, retiring nine straight before exiting after the fifth inning. Kershaw did not factor in the decision and allowed three runs on six hits with six strikeouts in five innings.

“I definitely had traffic all day. It could have been a lot worse, for sure,” said Kershaw. “I had to pitch out of jams basically every inning, but there’s a few mistakes in there that got hit hard. The homer to Manny [Machado] was a mistake, and the two-strike that Profar got there was a mistake…I definitely made some mistakes that they made me pay for, but overall I would like to have a few pitches back, but it definitely could have been worse.”

NLDS: Dodgers vs Padres
Los Angeles Dodgers Max Muncy rounds the bases off a solo home run during the second inning in game two of the NLDS against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022 in Los Angeles, CA.(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Muncy, the elephant in the Dodgers’ clubhouse all season long, appears to be back to his 2020 postseason form. The left-handed slugger has been one of the biggest surprises on the Dodgers ever since his breakout campaign in 2018.

After tearing a ligament in his right elbow in the last game of the 2021 season, Muncy’s bright light has dimmed this season. The once feared slugger batted .196 with 21 homers. Well short of the 36 he averaged in 2018, 19, and 21.

But Wednesday in Game 2, Muncy tossed all that aside when he sent a slider from Darvish deep into the seats in right-center for a solo shot that gave the Dodgers a brief 2-1 lead.

Trea Turner homered for the second straight game off Darvish in the bottom of the third inning, that deadlocked the game again at 3-3.

“I just got a good pitch to hit and didn’t miss it,” said Turner who has now homered in back-to-back playoff games for the first time in his career. “We got to him [Darvish] early, had some good at-bats early, and made it tough on him.”

The Padres bullpen was lights out on Tuesday, and did the same in Game 2. For the second straight night San Diego’s pen held the Dodgers scoreless after their starter left the game.

The Padres pen wasn’t as dominant as they were in Game 1, but the Dodgers didn’t help matters by going 0-for-8 with RISP, leaving ten men on base, including stranding the tying run at third base with one out in both the 6th and 7th innings.

“It’s the same guys we’ve seen all year,” said Freeman of the Padres’ bullpen thus far in the series. “They’ve just made the pitch when it counts and we didn’t get the hit when it counts. They pitched good again tonight.”

The Dodgers had one last opportunity to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth after Freeman hit a two-out double off Padres’ closer Josh Hader. Will Smith came to the plate representing the tying run, but the catcher flied out to right field to end the game.

The series shifts to San Diego this weekend where a former Cy Young Award winner will square off with a 2022 NL All-Star. Blake Snell will toe the rubber for the Padres opposite Tony Gonsolin for the Dodgers.

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Source: NBC Los Angeles

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