Padres begin big road trip by being blanked by Dodgers

By Kevin Acee

LOS ANGELES — The San Diego Padres began a big trip on Friday night.

A huge trip.

It may be the most significant 10 games of the season, if only because they went 6-4 in the previous 10 and 2-8 in the 10 before that and really haven’t been all that great since the end of June.

Every game remaining in this season is against an opponent that is also vying for a playoff spot. The Padres almost certainly must win more than they lose. Probably quite a few more.

“It’s very big,” utility man Jurickson Profar said Friday afternoon. “But we’re going to give our all every night — not only this road trip; all the 20-something games left. We know it’s very important. … We’re up to it.”

It did not start well, as they lost 3-0 to the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

The Padres entered Friday a game up on the Cincinnati Reds in the race for the National League’s second wild-card spot, but their loss and the Reds’ victory over the St. Louis Cardinals put the teams back in a tie.

Being “up to it” will mean the Padres start hitting.

They managed three hits in seven innings against Julio Urias, mounted a two-out rally with successive singles in the eighth off Blake Treinen before Wil Myers struck out and got one hit off Kenley Jansen in the ninth before Eric Hosmer grounded out to end the game.

The Padres have been shut out in five of their past 25 games. In 10 of those games, they have scored in no more than one inning.

And now they may have lost shortstop Jake Cronenworth, one of their most consistent hitters, for a time after he was struck on the left hand by a pitch in the third inning. After playing shortstop in the bottom of the third, he was replaced by Ha-seong Kim in the fourth.

Padres manager Jayce Tingler said after the game Cronenworth has a small fracture on his left ring finger, similar to what happened to Hosmer last year. Hosmer was sidelined 10 days although Tingler said Cronenworth’s might not be as severe.

Padres starting pitcher Joe Musgrove went six innings and allowed all three runs.

The first two came on a homer by Max Muncy in the third inning. And among the four other drives that sailed at least to the warning track against Musgrove was Will Smith’s double leading off the fourth inning. Smith went to third on a wild pitch and scored on a fly ball by Chris Taylor.

Musgrove allowed just two other hits, struck out seven and tied a career high by walking five.

Still, his team-leading 14th quality start might not have gone to waste had the Padres not continued to find hitting extremely difficult. On this night, like many, it seemed nearly impossible for long stretches.

Fernando Tatis Jr.’s infield single in the first inning, Adam Frazier’s single in the fifth inning and Myers’ double in the sixth (all with two outs) were the Padres’ only hits off Urias. The left-hander also walked a batter and hit two as he improved his major league-leading win total to 17.

It won’t get easier over the next two days, as the Padres will face the two pitchers who may well finish 1-2 in National League Cy Young voting — Walker Buehler on Saturday, Max Scherzer on Sunday.

The same three pitchers started in the Dodgers’ three-game sweep last month at Petco Park, allowing a total of one unearned run in 19 1/3 innings. That included Scherzer going 7 2/3 innings in a 4-0 victory in the finale, making Friday the second straight time the Dodgers blanked the Padres.

The Padres are countering with three pitchers who have been rolling.

Chris Paddack (2.91 ERA over his past four starts) will start Saturday and Blake Snell (1.85 ERA his past seven) goes Sunday.

The Dodgers are not exactly lighting anything on fire offensively. They had just four hits Friday.

It won’t matter if the Padres can’t string together more hits and base runners.

They had runners in six different innings, but Kim was the only one who got past second base. He had singled through the right side before moving up two bases on Tatis’ second single of the night. Frazier singled again in the ninth.

One thing the Padres have been able to hold onto, right through last weekend when they took two of three against the Houston Astros, is that they have fared well against the major leagues’ better teams.

Their .567 winning percentage entering Friday against teams that are above .500 was the second highest in the majors behind only the Astros (.581).

The Dodgers are still trying to avoid playing the wild-card game. They remain 2 1/2 games behind the NL West-leading Giants.

“I think we understand these are going to be intense,” Tingler said before the game. “They’re going to be fun, there’s going to be a packed house. There’s going to be a ton of energy. We’ve played each other a lot this year, and all the games have been exciting. They’ve been back and forth battles.”

He may have been leaning a little heavily on the seven games the teams played in a 10-day span in April, when six of their first 10 meetings were decided by one or two runs. The Padres won seven of those.

Of the three games last month, the Dodgers won two without much hassle. The other lasted 16 innings, the longest game in the majors since 2019.


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