Clayton Kershaw passed Sandy Koufax for third all-time in franchise history by reaching 2,397 career strikeouts and Will Smith added to his remarkable young career with a grand slam that led the Los Angeles Dodgers to an 8-2 comeback win over the San Diego Padres.
Smith’s heroics came on the heels of making MLB history by becoming the first player in the Modern Era (since 1900) to have three of his first five career home runs be of the go-ahead variety in the ninth inning.
Smith’s blast on Thursday erased what had otherwise been a frustrating night for the Dodgers offense. They’d managed at least one baserunner in each of the first three innings but only had Cody Bellinger’s solo home run to show for it.
Joey Lucchesi then began to crack and walked Bellinger and Tyler White to load the bases to put two on with two outs in the sixth. That marked the end of the night for Lucchesi, though he wasn’t off the hook as Trey Wingenter surrendered the grand slam to Smith.
Bellinger’s two-run double in the seventh inning broke the game open and garnered him ‘MVP’ chants from the Dodger Stadium faithful.
While Kershaw made franchise history, he uncharacteristically issued season-high five walks over six innings. He nonetheless turned in a 16th quality start and completed at least six innings for the 19th time in as many outings this season.
The Padres may have managed more than their two runs off him if it weren’t for Fernando Tatis Jr. twice running into an out at third base.
In the first inning, Tatis attempted to go first to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Kristoper Negrón beat him in a foot race and Tyler White’s throw was on time to complete a double play. Tatis was then thrown out at third when White cut off a throw to the plate on Manny Machado’s run-scoring single.
San Diego’s only other run came on Hunter Renfroe’s homer in the second inning.
In their first opportunity to silence critics over the lack of an impact an impact trade at the deadline, the Dodgers bullpen combined for scoreless work. Joe Kelly added to his impressive run by working a perfect seventh inning.
Dylan Floro handled the eighth, though allowed two runners to reach, and Yimi Garcia allowed a leadoff single and one-out double in the ninth before wrapping up the Dodgers’ win.