If Blake Snell is the caliber of ace the Dodgers will have to find a way to beat in the playoffs, then Wednesday night’s game doesn’t bode well for their World Series hopes.
Mookie Betts led off the bottom of the first inning with a bloop single to left-center field, and the Dodgers mustered nothing else off the veteran left-hander in a 6-1 loss to the San Diego Padres before a crowd of 41,810 in Chavez Ravine.
Snell, mixing a lively 96-mph fastball with a curve, changeup and slider, burnished his National League Cy Young Award credentials with a six-inning, one-hit, eight-strikeout, one-walk effort that improved him to 14-9 with a league-best 2.43 ERA this season.
Snell’s 217 strikeouts rank second in the NL behind Atlanta Braves ace Spencer Strider (259), and he leads the major leagues in opponents batting average (.187). Betts, who also walked in the third, was the only Dodger to reach base against Snell.
Padres right-hander Robert Suarez struck out the side in the seventh inning, right-hander Nick Martinez gave up one hit in a scoreless eighth, and left-hander Tom Cosgrove gave up a solo homer to Kolten Wong in the ninth.
The only other bright spot for the Dodgers, who rank second in the major leagues in runs, homers and on-base-plus-slugging percentage and lead baseball in walks, was that their magic number to clinch their 10th NL West title in 11 years was reduced to three with Arizona’s loss to the New York Mets.
Dodgers right-hander Ryan Pepiot, who replaced Julio Urías in the rotation last week after the left-hander’s arrest on suspicion of domestic violence, gave up four runs and six hits in six innings, striking out five and walking none, to fall to 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA in five big-league starts this season.
Pepiot was dominant in his previous start at Miami last Thursday, retiring the first 20 batters of the game before Josh Bell broke up his perfect-game bid with a two-out single in the sixth inning. Pepiot settled for seven shutout innings in a 10-0 win.
But two mistakes, both on 0-and-2 pitches, doomed him Wednesday night, Juan Soto belting a right-over-the-middle, 95-mph fastball for a solo home run to right field in the first inning and Luis Campusano driving a middle-in, 84-mph changeup over the left-field wall for a three-run homer in the fourth.
Soto’s shot was his 30th homer of the season, moving the outfielder into a select group of six players with multiple 30-homer, 100-walk seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Info. The others: Ted Williams, Mel Ott, Mickey Mantle, Eddie Matthews, Jimmie Foxx.
Pepiot retired the next seven batters before Fernando Tatis Jr. doubled to left-center to open the fourth. Soto singled to right, putting runners on first and third, and Campusano hit a towering three-run homer into the Dodgers bullpen for a 4-0 lead.
Pepiot was replaced to start the seventh by Joe Kelly, who was activated earlier Wednesday after missing a month because of right-forearm inflammation.
Kelly walked two batters, gave up a one-out infield single to Eguy Rosario and a two-out, two-run single to Tatis, whose broken-bat flare dropped in shallow right field for a 6-0 San Diego lead.