SAN DIEGO — The Dodgers spent the weekend in San Diego with their outstretched arm planted firmly on the Padres’ forehead, letting them swing away only to come up short.
The Padres connected Sunday afternoon.
Hunter Renfroe’s pinch-hit grand slam with two outs in the ninth inning off Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen gave the San Diego Padres an 8-5 walkoff win Sunday afternoon and prevented a Dodgers sweep of the sold-out series at Petco Park.
The series drew 133,456 fans (a lot of them wearing Dodger blue), a record for a three-game series at Petco Park and prompted questions about the “rivalry” between the two teams — questions Dodgers manager Dave Roberts joked he seems to get in every city the Dodgers visit.
“That one hurts, for sure,” Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager said. “We’re down all game, come back to get the lead. That stings. But we won the series and that’s what matters.”
They did — despite leading after just three innings, one each day.
“They’re hungry. They want to beat us,” Jansen said after Sunday’s loss. “Everyone wants to beat us in this division. Everyone wants to beat us in the National League. We’re two-time National League champions so every game we’re going to play against teams it’s going to be their ‘A’ games.
“They’re hungry to beat us. But I can’t let this beat us. A situation like this happens. I’ve got to turn the page on it.”
For the third consecutive game, the Dodgers spotted the Padres an early lead and seemed poised to ruin their day. Max Muncy hit a three-run home run in the fifth to make it a one-run game, 4-3, then Chris Taylor gave the Dodgers a 5-4 lead with a two-run home run in the eighth inning.
After a miserable first month to the season (he was batting .162 three days ago), Taylor came to life in San Diego. He was 7 for 13 in the series with two home runs, a double and four RBI.
“He’s getting opportunities to go out there and play,” Roberts said, alluding to the five consecutive left-handed starters the Dodgers faced this week. “I think he’s taking better swings. When he does get a ball in the strike zone, he’s getting it going forward and not fouling it off or swinging through it.
“And when you start to get some hits it breeds confidence — even a couple balls that were softly hit. You see an ‘H’ on the board and you start to get a little more confidence.”
Starter Kenta Maeda and relievers Pedro Baez and Ross Stripling retired 14 consecutive Padres — seven in a row on strikeouts at one point — through the bottom of the eighth and handed the one-run lead to Jansen who saved each of the first two games in this series.
But Jansen gave up a leadoff single to Eric Hosmer then Manuel Margot dropped a bunt down the third-base line. Justin Turner had no play, instead hoping it would go foul. It didn’t.
The next batter, Wil Myers, made it two bunt hits in a row when his rolled untouched through the grass on the third-base side of the pitcher’s mound as Seager went to cover second base, Turner third and Jansen broke slowly from the mound.
Good Wil bunting loaded the bases.
“I’ve got to get to my responsibility and make sure we get an out,” Turner said. “They have their 7 and 8 hitters coming up. Get an out there and let Kenley pitch his way out of it.
“It wasn’t a great bunt. But my responsibility there is to make sure we get an out.”
Jansen nearly did work his way out of it anyway. He struck out Greg Garcia and got Francisco Mejia to pop out, moving an out away from escaping with the win.
“Oh, man — that’s the suck part of it because I visualized myself out of it,” Jansen said.
Renfroe came off the bench to pinch hit and took a called strike down the middle from Jansen. The second pitch was another cut fastball over the heart of the plate only slightly higher.
Renfroe didn’t hesitate. He drove it deep into the left-field stands, tossing his bat away and throwing his arms in the air before starting his victory lap.
“Second pitch I tried to go up and up,” Jansen said. “I tried to climb the ladder but the ball stayed a little down and he put a good swing on it.
“Sometimes stuff like that is going to happen. …. Things happen. You can’t question yourself. How about that perfect bunt Margot put down? JT thought that was going to go foul. It stayed fair. Stuff like that is going to happen sometimes. This sucks right now. At the same time, I fought well out there.”
Renfroe’s slam was the fourth home run Jansen has given up already this season (after giving up 13 last year, the most by any reliever in the NL). But it was the paper cuts that lingered.
“You know, if that’s the way they have to beat me, I’ll take that,” Jansen said of the bunt singles by Margot and Myers. “It’s a compliment for me. Two perfect bunts, that’s how they beat me today.”
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