Suarez steps up for Padres in 5-3 win over Dodgers in NLDS

Credit: MLB

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After five home runs, four lead changes, and three ties, the San Diego Padres took Game 2 of the National League Division Series, 5-3, to even the series at one game apiece with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

After winning just five of the first 20 contests against the Dodgers, the Padres are walking out of Los Angeles with a win and a split, which guarantees two home games before the series shifts back to L.A. if those games are split.

Yu Darvish took the ball in what was essentially a “must-win” game. He never had his best stuff, but still turned in an outing that gave the Padres a chance to win. Darvish allowed three solo home runs but managed all of the Los Angeles traffic on the bases, allowing no runs otherwise in five innings while striking out seven.

With a one-run lead, Padres manager Bob Melvin sent Darvish out for the sixth inning, and it did not fare well. Back-to-back singles put runners on the corners with no outs, so Melvin went to Robert Suarez. Facing the middle of the order, Suarez struck out Justin Turner and got Gavin Lux to roll over into a crucial double play, preserving the lead. Suarez then got in trouble in the seventh but escaped again.

“Pretty good,” Melvin said as he chuckled when asked about his confidence in Suarez. “That role is the most difficult role, a lot of the time when you’re coming on, and there are runners on, and you’re asked to go multiple innings.”

Manny Machado made his presence felt with his bat early. He hammered a home run down the left-field line to open the game up in the first inning and doubled down the line again to tie it at two. He also made an impressive diving play to keep Trea Turner off base.

Jake Cronenworth, coming off a two-hit performance after getting no hits against the New York Mets, drove in two critical runs. His first came during an incredible at-bat after spitting on three Clayton Kershaw sliders. Cronenworth chopped out but gave the Padres the lead, 3-2.

After Jurickson Profar re-gave the Padres the lead, Cronenworth hit a homer to the “Crone Zone.” That home run provided a calming insurance run.

“No hits in New York, but you come here and start zero again and try to have quality at-bats,” Cronenworth said. “We are familiar with these guys, as they are with us, so I have a really good plan of attack and have been executing it well.”

The Dodgers got the tying and go-ahead runs on base in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings but never brought them home. Freddie Freeman doubled with two out in the ninth to get the tying run up, but Josh Hader closed the door to earn his third postseason save.

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Game 3 will be on Friday after an off-day Thursday. The first pitch will be at 5:37 in front of what should be an electric Petco Park crowd. Blake Snell will start for the Padres, looking to bounce back after a short start in New York. He’ll face off against Tony Gonsolin.

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