SAN DIEGO (AP) – Jake Cronenworth hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in the seventh inning and the San Diego Padres beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 on Saturday night to advance to the NL Championship Series for the first time since in 1998
The Padres stunned the 111-win Dodgers in the seventh to win the best-of-five NL Division Series 3-1 in front of a raucous sellout crowd of 45,139 at Petco Park.
“It’s going to be a party here tonight,” said starting pitcher Joe Musgrove, who grew up a Padres fan in suburban San Diego.
“I mean, ever since I was little, the Dodgers beat us up. But when it comes down to it and when the games matter, this team has stepped up, top to bottom.”
San Diego will host the Philadelphia Phillies in Games 1 and 2 of the all-wild card NLCS on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Phillies beat the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves 8-3 earlier in the day to win their NLDS in four games.
The crowd roared when Josh Hader, acquired from Milwaukee on Aug. 1, struck out Mookie Betts, Treo Turner and Freddie Freeman in quick succession to end it. Padres players celebrated wildly on the field, and fireworks fell over the stadium downtown. Manny Machado and Juan Soto invited the fans for more.
The Padres last reached the NLCS 24 years ago when they beat Atlanta in six games before being swept by the New York Yankees in the World Series. Several players from that team watched from the luxury suite, including Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman and center fielder Steve Finley.
The game was delayed 31 minutes early by rain, which returned in the eighth inning and led to a brief delay while the pitching staff worked on the mound.
After left-hander Tyler Anderson held the Padres to five scoreless innings, San Diego broke through against the Dodgers in the seventh.
Jurickson Profar drew a leadoff walk against Tommy Kahnle, went to third on Trent Grisham’s single and scored when Austin Nola’s infield single glanced off Freeman’s glove at first base. Yency Almonte, who took the loss, walked and was greeted by Kim Ha-seong’s RBI double down the third base line, followed by Soto’s tying single to right.
With two outs and the crowd on their feet, Cronenworth singled to center fielder Alex Vesio to give the Padres the lead, raising his arms in celebration as he rounded first, then punched the air with his right fist as he entered second base on the throw home. Soto, acquired from Washington in an emergency trade on Aug. 2, slid home head first and jumped and cheered.
After the first rain delay, fans were excited in anticipation of Musgrove pitching his hometown Padres to the NL Championship Series. The big right-hander from suburban El Cajon, a first-time All-Star in 2022, was the first San Diego Padres pitcher to make a postseason start in his hometown.
But Anderson outscored Musgrove, holding the Padres to two hits through five innings.
The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the third. Betts walked with one out, and Turner drilled a grounder past third baseman Machado, who has carried the Padres for much of the season, to move Betts to third. Freeman, who helped the Braves win the World Series last year before signing with the Dodgers as a free agent, doubled down the right field line to bring them both in.
Will Smith hit a sacrifice fly against Steven Wilson with the bases loaded in the seventh for a 3-0 lead, but winning pitcher Tim Hill prevented further damage.
The Dodgers were left with a big disappointment. Manager Dave Roberts predicted during spring training that they would win the World Series. They won the NL West for the ninth time in 10 seasons and finished 22 games ahead of San Diego. The Dodgers went 14-5 against the Padres in the regular season and have won nine consecutive regular season series against them.
“These guys dominated us all year, but we caught fire at the right time. And you see the unity in this group, this fan base — we wanted to give that to these people so badly,” Musgrove said. “It feels good.”
Musgrove was trying for his second straight playoff series victory. He dominated the New York Mets at Citi Field on Sunday night, allowing just one hit and one walk over seven innings in a 6-0 victory that sent the Padres into the NLDS.
He gave up two runs and six hits in six innings against the Dodgers, striking out eight and walking three.
2007 NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy, who was Musgrove’s boyhood idol, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to former teammate Mark Loretta. Musgrove switched to Peavy’s No. 44 after the Padres acquired him before the 2021 season. Peavy said he sent congratulations to Musgrove after he threw the first no-hitter in franchise history on April 9, 2021, and met him for the first time this weekend. “Like, I’m honored that this guy saw me,” Peavy said of Musgrove’s idol, “because I’ve done it with Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryans around the world. I looked up to these guys and ripped off some of their game to become my own version of myself.”
Dodgers: Play their first spring training game on Feb. 25 against Milwaukee.
Padres: RHP Yu Darvish is likely to start Tuesday night in Game 1 of the NLCS.
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