LOS ANGELES (AP)Although the San Diego Padres made plenty of noise at the trade deadline, it’s already been drowned out by the relentless drumbeat of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ march toward October.
Will Smith homered and drove in three runs, and the Dodgers continued to pull away from the rest of the NL West with their seventh consecutive victory, 8-3 over the second-place Padres on Saturday night.
Max Muncy hit a three-run homer in the fifth inning for the Dodgers, who boosted their division lead to a season-high 14 1/2 games with their 16th win in the last 18 meetings with San Diego. A few days after the Padres signaled their World Series intentions by adding Juan Soto, Josh Bell and Brandon Drury to the lineup, Los Angeles has calmly outscored San Diego 16-4 in back-to-back big victories at Chavez Ravine.
”Tonight was a clinic, (a) team offensive clinic,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. ”Using the entire field, situationally, it’s as good as you can draw it up. … Just a good, professional way to approach a game in every facet.”
The Dodgers have won six consecutive series against the Padres, whose bold trade deadline moves haven’t yet overcome their powerhouse rivals’ everyday excellence. Los Angeles improved the majors’ best record to 74-33 with its 14th win in 17 games since hosting the All-Star Game last month.
”We’re a really, really good lineup,” said Muncy, who is on an upward surge after a largely dismal season. ”Kind of seems like our lineup has been forgotten with some of the things that have been happening, and it feels good to go out and prove we have a really good lineup.”
Drury had an RBI double during a three-run fourth inning for the Padres, who have lost three straight. San Diego is 1-3 since adding three shiny new bats, and manager Bob Melvin is eager to see a return on his team’s big investments.
”We’ll play better than this, (but) unfortunately we didn’t get off to a good start,” said Melvin, whose club has 19 hits and no homers in its three straight defeats. ”The first day was great, and we haven’t followed it up yet. These guys, we’ve got to solve (the Dodgers) at some point.”
Soto has a hit in every game with San Diego, but he managed only a soft single Saturday night. Bell went 0 for 4, while Drury’s double was his only hit.
”We brought (the new hitters) in here late in the season to do it now,” Melvin said. ”After the first game, we haven’t been as good as we should be.”
Mike Clevinger (3-4) yielded seven hits and five runs while pitching into the fifth inning for San Diego. The Padres took a 3-2 lead into the fifth, but Muncy chased Clevinger by driving his 11th homer into the visitors’ bullpen.
”They’re good at capitalizing on mistakes, and I feel like two pitches cost us the ballgame,” Clevinger said.
Andrew Heaney lowered his ERA to 0.66 while pitching 4 2/3 innings of four-hit ball in his sixth start of the season for the Dodgers, his third since returning from three injury-plagued months. San Diego went ahead with three unearned runs in a rally abetted by second baseman Gavin Lux’s error on Bell’s easy one-out grounder.
Chris Martin (3-0) ended the fifth by striking out Manny Machado, earning his second victory in four games with his new club.
Smith led off the second with his 16th homer, extending his hitting streak to nine games. The slugging catcher, who had three hits in Friday’s series opener, then drove in Mookie Betts with a two-out single in the third.
Freddie Freeman and Smith had sacrifice flies in the seventh. Betts started the rally with a single before Machado made a key error – to the delight of the Dodgers fans who boo their former infielder relentlessly.
Cody Bellinger added an RBI double off the wall in the eighth.
Clayton Kershaw had an epidural injection for his lower back pain, and an MRI exam revealed nothing new, Roberts said. The team hasn’t decided when Kershaw will pick up a baseball again, but Roberts thinks ”it’s going to be shorter-term, rather than longer-term.”
Dodger Stadium was packed for the second straight night, with 52,124 fans watching the Southern California rivals. One night earlier, the Dodgers’ celebration of Vin Scully was one of the hottest tickets in recent LA history.
Padres: RHP Robert Suarez returned from the 60-day injured list and yielded two hits and a run in the eighth. He had been out since June 5 after knee surgery.
Dodgers: Dodgers relievers Blake Treinen (shoulder) and Brusdar Graterol (shoulder) both threw an inning in a simulated game, and both came out ”really good,” Roberts said. Graterol is still about 10 days from returning, and Treinen isn’t expected back until September.
Dodgers All-Star Tyler Anderson (12-1, 2.89 ERA) looks to remain unbeaten since June in the series finale. Yu Darvish (10-4, 3.30) takes the mound against his old team for San Diego after going 6-1 in his last 10 starts.
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