Dodgers stop scoring, Clayton Kershaw off as Padres tie NLDS

Entering this week’s National League Division Series, the Dodgers seemed to have every advantage over the San Diego Padres.

They were the more rested team, enjoying a five-day break while the Padres battled through a three-game wild-card series.

Their pitching was better positioned, as the rotation’s top two starters were lined up with ample prep.

And after surviving a narrow Game 1 victory the night before, they returned to Dodger Stadium on Wednesday with the chance to take a commanding two-game lead in the best-of-five matchup.

So much for all that.

Instead, the Dodgers dropped Game 2 in a sloppy 5-3 defeat, erring on the mound, at the plate, in the field and on the bases to let the Padres turn this NLDS into a brand-new series.

“We weren’t clean,” manager Dave Roberts said after the game.

And with Games 3 and 4 shifting to San Diego on Friday and Saturday, the Dodgers’ margin for error is about to get razor thin.

“Now it’s a three-game series,” shortstop Trea Turner said. “Kind of like a regular-season series, with a little bit more intensity.”

Clayton Kershaw wasn’t sharp early in his five-inning start Wednesday, giving up a home run to Manny Machado in the first and two runs in a stressful third.

There was a costly defensive mistake in the sixth, when Turner’s booted grounder led to an unearned run that broke a 3-3 tie.

Most of all, there was a string of missed opportunities at the plate, where the Dodgers hit three solo home runs off Padres ace Yu Darvish in the first three innings but also went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position and left 10 men on base. .

Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman reacts after flying out during the fifth inning in Game 2 of the NLDS on Wednesday.

(Wally Scalidge/Los Angeles Times)

“We got to be better in certain situations,” third baseman Max Muncy said, after the Dodgers failed to score following the third inning for a second straight game. Hats off to those guys. They come in and they’re executing their pitches with really good stuff. So we got to make the adjustment.”

The Dodgers need to do so quickly before it’s too late.

The home-field advantage the team earned with a 111-win season and NL West championship? That’s gone, with two of the final three games to be played at Petco Park.

The pitching edge the Dodgers once held, perhaps the best prize of getting a bye to the NLDS? That has disappeared as well, with surging starters Blake Snell and Joe Musgrove on tap for the Padres this weekend against the Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin (who will start Game 3, but is expected to be limited to four innings) and Tyler Anderson.

“Maybe a little bit,” Muncy said when asked if Wednesday felt like a missed opportunity. “We had some good situations in our favor there and we didn’t get the job done. It’s a little frustrating.”

Indeed, after Machado opened the scoring for the Padres, solo homers by Freddie Freeman and Muncy had the Dodgers back in front by the second inning.

After Kershaw faltered again in the third inning, the Dodgers tied it once more on Turner’s solo blast, his second in as many games.

Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw looks back after allowing an RBI double to San Diego Padres' Manny Machado.

Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw looks back after allowing an RBI double to San Diego Padres’ Manny Machado during the third inning.

(Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Even after Turner’s defensive miscue in the sixth helped the Padres regain the lead, the Dodgers had plenty more opportunities against the San Diego bullpen.

Each time, however, they came up empty.

In the sixth, Will Smith hit a leadoff single, then Muncy came to the plate and launched a deep drive to right over Juan Soto’s head.

As Soto pursued the ball, though, he fooled the Dodgers baserunners with a decoy, sticking a glove in the air as if he was going to make the catch.

As a result, Muncy failed to advance past first base, later explaining he didn’t know if Smith was going to turn and head for third until it was too late.

“I didn’t want to make an out at second right there,” Muncy said.

Alas, it gave flamethrowing reliever Robert Suarez a chance to later escape the jam on Gavin Lux’s inning-ending double play.

The Dodgers had another chance against Suarez in the seventh, putting runners on second and third with Turner and Freeman coming to the plate.

But yet again, they failed to capitalize.

Turner grounded out to third, Freeman was intentionally walked, then Smith flied out to retire the side.

After Jake Cronenworth’s solo home run off Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen made it 5-3, the Dodgers produced one more threat against Padres closer Josh Hader with two on and two outs in the eighth.

In a surprise decision, Roberts opted to pinch-hit backup catcher Austin Barnes in Cody Bellinger’s spot over Chris Taylor (who battled a neck injury at the end of the season but is healthy again, according to Roberts) and Miguel Vargas (the rookie whom the Dodgers put on the NLDS roster largely because of his hitting).

Roberts said he liked Barnes’ short, flat swing path better against the four-time All-Star. But Barnes flied out to retire the side.

An inning later, Hader stranded one last-gasp double from Freeman to end the game — and force the Dodgers down a more difficult path in order to advance through this NLDS.

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