LOS ANGELES — Somewhere over a rainbow beyond right field in the first inning on Monday night, the weather appeared to taunt the Dodgers again.
Did it ever.
After three days of rain and hours of delays in Washington, that was not a truce from the sky. What ensued was an offensive showdown as the Dodgers blew a five-run lead on Monday before Juan Soto hit a three-run home run in the ninth inning then sent a bat flip toward the clouds.
The Padres walked away with an 11-8 victory on the strength of 14 hits, leaving the NL West-leading Dodgers 4-6 in September after going 24-5 in August.
The loss came despite Mookie Betts hitting a leadoff home run, along with a three-run double. Max Muncy blasted a homer to the back of the right field bleachers. But Gavin Stone struggled as a rotation replacement for Clayton Kershaw and former Dodger Manny Machado hit two home runs for the Padres.
The night turned out dry. The deluge came in the form of runs.
“In some cases, I probably could have done a better job of pounding the strike zone early and hopefully seeing more swing and misses early,” Stone said about the Padres swinging early in the count. “We talked about it, but back to getting the ball down, I feel like that would have helped with them swinging a lot.”
The Padres’ ninth-inning rally came gift-wrapped by the Dodgers when center fielder James Outman and left fielder Chris Taylor bumped while trying to make a catch on the warning track. Trent Grisham ended up on second base. Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a comebacker, but Evan Phillips (1-4) dropped the ball while trying to look Grisham back to third base.
Soto’s home run and helicopter bat flip came on a 1-and-2 slider from Phillips.
“I went a little out of my territory so I think the blame is on me,” Outman said of his run-in with Taylor, despite being in charge as the center fielder.
Said Manager Dave Roberts: “It’s kind of the rule of thumb if you can get to it as the center fielder, it’s your ball. … To be quite honest, if one of them heard it, that’s (Taylor’s) responsibility to relent. But clearly he didn’t hear it so it’s something that they’re going to learn from.”
The Dodgers put two aboard with one out in the ninth inning against Padres left-hander Josh Hader, with Muncy striking out and J.D. Martinez hitting an RBI single to bring the tying run to the plate. Kiké Hernandez walked to load the bases, but Taylor hit a soft line drive to shortstop for the final out.
When it was over, the Dodgers lost for just the third time in 11 games against the Padres this season.
Stone gave up seven runs on nine hits over 5⅓ innings with an oddly efficient 65 pitches in just his second start after the Fourth of July as the Dodgers try to patch the holes in their staff left by Julio Urías’ arrest, Tony Gonsolin’s Tommy John surgery, Kershaw’s schedule adjustments and the bullpen-draining weekend series against the Nationals. Kershaw’s next outing has been pushed back to Saturday as he works on his mechanics to assist with diminished velocity.
“I think I was leaving the ball up a little bit with the changeup and the cutter,” said Stone, who is expected to be available out of the bullpen Saturday. “Just leaving it up. I think if I just get the ball down then … a lot less runs.”
The Dodgers led 7-2 after three innings then watched the Padres work their way back into a 7-7 tie in the sixth thanks to Machado’s home runs against Stone and a tying RBI double from Matthew Batten against Caleb Ferguson.
Betts’ leadoff home run was his 12th of the season and the 45th of his career to tie him with Ian Kinsler for the fifth most all-time. It came in response to an RBI single from Soto in the top of the first.
When the Dodgers took a 2-1 lead in the second inning after Miguel Rojas was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, the Padres tied it again when Ha-Seong Kim had an RBI ground out.
The Dodgers’ five-run third inning included a home run from Muncy, his 35th, an RBI single from Taylor and a three-run double from Betts that nearly cleared the wall in left-center, with a fan reaching into fair territory to catch it. With all three runners moving on the pitch, the umpires allowed the third run to score.
Betts’ four RBIs gave him 103 for the season.
“Our offense starts with Mookie,” Roberts said. “He gets on base, he can slug. You don’t see too many leadoff hitters drive in 100 runs in a season. What he is doing with the slug really is unprecedented. He’s on a short list of guys that can drive in 100 runs in the leadoff spot.”
Machado’s home runs in the fourth and sixth innings gave him the 38th multi-homer game of his career.
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