Dodgers out-slug Padres to win high-scoring affair

The Dodgers took the field Wednesday without Mookie Betts, the star right fielder they’ve committed to paying nearly $400 million, for the third straight game. Losing a player of that caliber – a perennial All-Star and former MVP — would debilitate most teams. For the Dodgers, it just meant plugging in another slugger and riding him to victory.

Joc Pederson, coming off hitting a career-high 36 home runs as the Dodgers’ primary right fielder last season, started in right field for the three games against the San Diego Padres and fueled the Dodgers in their 7-6 win Wednesday at Petco Park.

Pederson put the Dodgers on the board with a two-run home run in the second inning off Padres starter Garrett Richards, ignited a two-run fifth inning with a leadoff walk, and smashed a three-run home run in the sixth inning that proved to be the difference.

He concluded the series with his first three home runs of the season. He began the three-game set with his 21st career leadoff home run on the first pitch of Monday’s series opener. His third homer was a mammoth 435-foot blast to straightaway center field against right-hander Luis Patiño, a top prospect making his major-league debut.

Pederson’s efforts Wednesday came in support of Ross Stripling, who was tossed four scoreless innings before stumbling to his finish line. The right-hander surrendered a two-run home run to Fernando Tatis Jr. in the fifth inning. He was chased in the sixth inning when Greg Garcia lined a two-out, two-run double. He allowed the four runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out seven.

In the end, the Dodgers took two of three games from a Padres team clamoring to prove they can compete with them. The Padres, a club brimming with confidence, played with an intensity not usually seen in the second week of any season. They won the first game, but the Dodgers closed with two wins to finish their season-long nine-game trip 7-2.

A few hours before first pitch, the Dodgers recalled utilityman Zach McKinstry and optioned left-hander Victor González to make room on the roster few hours before first pitch Wednesday. McKinstry was on the team’s taxi squad for the road trip. His first stint as a major leaguer will likely last just one game; teams must reduce their rosters from 30 to 28 players Thursday for the rest of the season.

While McKinstry got the call, Gavin Lux, the organization’s top prospect remained at the Dodgers’ alternate training site at USC. Manager Dave Roberts strongly shot down the idea that the Dodgers haven’t called up Lux in order to limit his service time and, consequently, have him under club control for an additional year.

“First of all, there is no conspiracy theory with holding Gavin Lux down,” Roberts said. “For any other reason that aside from we don’t feel that he’s ready right now. And we let Gavin know that. So that should be put to bed.”

Roberts went on to explain that Lux, who reached the majors last September and was on the Dodgers’ postseason roster, won’t return to the big-league level until they believe he is ready to play every day. Further, Roberts said, McKinstry was already with the club and adding him for one game before rosters were downsized made more sense.

“He wasn’t right mechanically,” Roberts said of Lux. “And he knows that and we know that. He’s still getting there at SC. He’s getting at-bats daily. It’s coming. I see video every single day. Still not there yet, but it’s getting considerably better.”

McKinstry was added to the roster Wednesday as insurance.

Edwin Ríos’ status was uncertain after he was hit by a pitch on a toe Tuesday and exited the game. Betts wasn’t available to hit and was absent from the starting lineup for the third straight game after injuring his left middle finger Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Roberts said he wasn’t sure if Betts will be available to start Friday – after the Dodgers’ off-day Thursday – against the San Francisco Giants. He entered Wednesday’s game as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning. That’s all the Dodgers needed from him.


1. Left-hander Caleb Ferguson surrendered the Dodgers bullpen’s first home run of the season when Wil Myers took him deep for a solo shot in the eighth inning. Dodgers relievers had gone 53 1/3 innings without allowing a homer.

2. The Padres unveiled an unusual defensive alignment in the seventh inning when Cody Bellinger and Corey Seager batted, shifting third baseman Manny Machado to shallow right field. Bellinger flied out to Machado.

3. Padres manager Jayce Tingler earned the first ejection of his managerial career in the seventh inning after arguing balls and strikes. Tingler, of course, pleaded his case socially distanced from home plate umpire Mark Ripperger with a face covering on.

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