Padres take big step with walk-off victory over Dodgers in 10th – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Blake Snell was wonderful but wild, the bullpen tripped, the offense napped for six innings.
The Padres took advantage of Dodgers gaffes to break a tie in the eighth inning. The Dodgers took advantage of Padres gaffes to tie the game again in the ninth.
The bullpen got back up. Jorge Alfaro walked it off again. Literally walked it off.
The Padres beat the Dodgers 4-3 in 10 innings on Alfaro’s bases-loaded walk, taking a significant step closer to the postseason in the process.
After Pierce Johnson held the Dodgers scoreless in the top of the 10th, José Azocar began the bottom of the inning on second base and moved to third on Ha-Seong Kim’s sacrifice bunt. Juan Soto was intentionally walked, Manny Machado struck out and Brandon Drury walked to load the bases for Alfaro, who delivered his team-record fifth walk-off RBI of the season.
“Not really one of his things that he tends to do,” manager Bob Melvin said of Alfaro, who had walked 10 times in 253 plate appearances this season. “We’ve seen him get a few hits to do it. But, man, after getting down 0-1 like that, trying to be patient, bases loaded, knowing you gotta throw it over the plate. Like I said, it’s not really his forte, but he seems to come up big and those at-bats and really focus, and there’s a lot of desire in it.”

After watching Dodgers reliever Craig Kimbrel’s full-count fastball sail wide, Alfaro turned to the Padres’ dugout, shrugged and with a giant smile on is face said, “Oh (expletive), I walked.”
Alfaro’s 3.7 percent walk rate is 12th lowest in the majors among the 305 players with at least 250 plate appearances, and his 49 percent rate of chasing pitches outside the strike zone is second worst.
“It’s not a secret I don’t walk that much,” Alfaro said.

“I think our message here is whatever it takes,” Machado said. “And, you know, he did just that.”
It was a paradoxically anticlimactic and exhilarating finish after a wild few innings that occurred toward the end of a game that plodded and then stumbled.

“Both sides played sloppy baseball,” Machado said. “I mean sloppy.”
With help from a ball that went in and out of left fielder Chris Taylor’s glove, two walks and a ball that went in and out of third baseman Justin Turner’s glove, the Padres went up 3-2 in the eighth.
Austin Nola’s double, a line drive at 102 mph that Taylor ran back on and appeared to have before it caromed off his glove, led off the inning. Trent Grisham pinch ran for Nola.

A pop out on a bunt attempt by Azocar and walks by Kim and Soto followed before Chris Martin replaced Caleb Ferguson and struck out Machado. Drury followed with a broken-bat grounder to Turner that he bobbled before eventually making a tardy throw to first, allowing Grisham to cross home plate with run to make it 3-2.
Josh Hader, who was pitching to Alfaro with Nola having been removed, was an error and/or a passed ball from overcoming a lead-off double by Trea Turner in the top of the ninth.

A would-be second out on a grounder by Will Smith was bobbled by Kim at shortstop, allowing Trea Turner to move to third and Smith to reach base. After Justin Turner flied out to shallow left field, a high 1-1 fastball to Max Muncy hit Alfaro’s glove as it sailed to the backstop, and Trea Turner ran home on the passed ball.
The Padres denied the Dodgers from getting a franchise-record 107th victory of the season and, more importantly, shaved their magic number to clinch a playoff spot to four.
That number dropped to five before the Padres came to bat in the fourth inning when the Cardinals completed a 6-2 victory over the Brewers. With eight games remaining, any combination of Padres victories and Brewers losses that adds up to four put the Padres in the postseason.

Earlier, the Phillies lost to the Cubs, which means the Padres’ lead over Philadelphia increased to 2½ games for the No. 5 NL playoff spot. The magic number is seven to clinch that spot over Philadelphia.
A two-run first inning against Dodgers starter Tyler Anderson was followed by the lefty retiring the final 16 batters he faced.
Reliever Evan Phillips allowed a one-out infield single by pinch-hitter Jurickson Profar in the seventh inning to stop the streak at 17.

That would have perhaps been a surprising turn of events after the promising start against Anderson, except he shut out the Padres for seven innings in Los Angeles last month and had allowed them three runs in 18 innings (three starts) this season,
The first-inning runs came on three singles.
Soto grounded a one-out single up the middle and was erased at second on a fielder’s choice grounder by Machado, but two-out hits by Drury and Wil Myers got the Padres on the board.

Drury drilled the first pitch he saw to left field for a double that moved Machado to third. And after fouling off three 0-2 pitches, Myers reached out to punch a two-run single up the middle.
Some classic Snell followed.

Overpowering the Dodgers. Undone by his erraticism.
When Snell allowed the Dodgers five runs on seven hits in four innings on Sept. 10, it was the first time in 10 career starts against them that he allowed more than two runs. He had in his first nine starts against them, including two in the 2020 World Series while with Tampa Bay, posted a 1.99 ERA and yielded a .167 batting average.
He allowed them one hit in five scoreless innings Tuesday but also walked three batters, struck out six and went to a full count a total of nine times.

So the Padres bullpen got a test like what it might face in the playoffs, when managers are more likely to pull a starting pitcher after he has faced a lineup twice.
It didn’t begin great.
In the sixth, Nick Martinez allowed a single, two walks and a bases-loaded grounder that halved the Padres’ lead and ended Martinez’s night. Robert Suarez came in and allowed a game-tying single to Taylor before striking out Trayce Thompson.

Suarez escaped after loading the bases on a hit batter, single and walk with one out in the seventh. Luis Garcia pitched a scoreless eighth inning.
“With the way our bullpen has been pitching — and we have some depth there now — different looks against good teams, against a team like this, you don’t want to give them too many looks against one particular pitcher,” Melvin said. “But we also have some starters that we feel pretty good about too. So there will be a balance to it. But you do see if indeed it goes farther than the end of the season here that bullpens become a major factor.”

12:19 a.m. Sept. 28, 2022: This article was updated with postgame quotes and further reporting.
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