San Diego improved to 22-31, while Los Angeles fell to 23-28.
Villanueva sets HR record, then goes yard again!
With his team trailing 5-3 in the top of the 6th, Padres rookie Christian Villanueva walked up to the plate for his third at-bat against Dodgers lefty Alex Wood. In the two at-bats prior, Wood had struck Villanueva out on a combined eight pitches.
Wood got ahead in the count against Villanueva on the first pitch of the at-bat, inducing a whiff on a 90 mile-per-hour fastball.
The third baseman did not miss the next offering. He deposited an 83-mile-per-hour changeup 417 feet into the left-center field bleachers, tying the game at five apiece. The home run left Villanueva’s bat at 102 mph, per MLB.com’s Statcast.
With the home run, Villanueva set the MLB record for most home runs by a Mexican-born rookie in a single season. His 13th home run overtook Geronimo Gil’s previous mark of 12, which occurred with the Orioles in 2002.
He was not done there.
In the top of the 7th, Villanueva played long ball again. This time he did it off a right-hander, lining a Josh Fields knuckle-curve over the left-field wall to provide the Padres with an insurance run.
“He has had some big swings for us all year, we needed that today,” manager Andy Green said after the win. “That was a really good fight from behind for the guys.”
With the two blasts, Christian Villanueva (14) now trails only Bryce Harper (15) for the National League lead in home runs.
Home run ball
Villanueva was not the only one to play long ball on the evening.
In the second, Freddy Galvis ended a HR drought with a 2-run shot just inside the foul pole in left. It was the shortstop’s first home run since March 31, a span stretching over 160 at-bats.
In the fourth, catcher AJ Ellis hit his first home run as a Padre into the visitors bullpen in left field. It was his first home run since September 20 of last year, and it had to feel sweet for him to do it against his former club. Ellis is now hitting .315 on the season and has been a surprising boost offensively for San Diego.
For a team that has had its struggles in terms of power (they entered the ballgame with 43 home runs, good for 27th in the majors), Saturday night was a sight for sore eyes.
“I’m a fan of the home run,” Green said. “I would like to hit as many as we can.”
Lyles struggles in fourth start
Jordan Lyles entered Saturday’s game against the Dodgers with three strong starts under his belt. In 18 innings as a starter, Lyles had allowed five earned runs and struck out 20.
Tonight, though, the 27-year-old was unable to continue his success. He allowed seven hits and five earned runs in 4 2/3 innings. His command was not all too sharp, as he walked four. He was removed from the game after walking Cody Bellinger with the bases loaded in the fifth.
“I probably left him (Lyles) in one batter too late,” Green reflected.
Lyles allowed two home runs on the night. Chris Taylor and Justin Turner took him deep in the first and fourth innings respectively.
He threw 55 of his 89 pitches for strikes, inducing eight whiffs.
Bullpen comes up big
The bullpen came up clutch for the Padres immediately after being called upon. Down 5-3, the first man out of the ‘pen was left-hander Tyler Webb, who came in to face Logan Forsythe with the bases loaded in the fifth. After falling behind in the count 3-1, Webb was able to strike out the former Padre to avoid further danger.
Webb also recorded the first out in the 6th before being lifted.
“Tyler Webb was outstanding. You put a guy into a dicey situation, and he got two big outs,” Green said. “That game could have spun on us, but he kept it close for us.”
Craig Stammen followed Webb with 1 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball. He was able to work around a two errors by Christian Villanueva.
Kirby Yates and Brad Hand followed Stammen with solid outings in the 8th and 9th innings respectively to secure the victory.
Craig Stammen earned his second win of the season, improving his record to 2-0. Brad Hand recorded his 16th save.
Speaking of the bullpen…
With no announced starter, tomorrow’s series finale will be all about the bullpen.
“We are going to read and respond the way the game flows tomorrow and put guys in positions to succeed,” Green said about his club’s plans.
He also stated that they had not made a decision yet on who would begin the game out of the bullpen.