LOS ANGELES – In advance of their series against the bulked-up San Diego Padres this week, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts laughed off the idea that his team would be looking to “send a message” about the rightful order of things in the National League West.
Then they went out and sent a message.
The Dodgers put the Soto-fied Padres in their place – a distant second – with a two-hit, 4-0 shutout Sunday afternoon, completing a three-game sweep by a combined score of 20-4.
The Dodgers have dominated the upstart Padres to the tune of a 55-18 scoring advantage while winning eight of 10 head-to-head meetings.
The two SoCal neighbors will play nine more times in September. But that month will mean much more to the Padres than the Dodgers.
Sunday’s win extended the Dodgers’ latest winning streak to eight games – all against National League West opponents – and swelled their lead in the division to 15 ½ games, the largest lead the Dodgers have had since the end of the 2019 season when they won the West by 21 games.
During Sunday’s broadcast on ESPN, Padres owner and team chairman Peter Seidler referred to the Dodgers as “the dragon up the freeway that we’re trying to slay.”
That dragon is still breathing fire, winning 17 of the past 18 games and 21 of the past 23 against NL West opponents.
Tyler Anderson dominated the Padres for seven innings Sunday, allowing just a pair of singles – one on a hard ground ball off third baseman Max Muncy’s hip. For all their trade-deadline flexing, the Padres didn’t get a runner past first base against Anderson.
He had some help. Starting in left field for the first time since returning from his foot injury, Chris Taylor made a pair of outstanding plays. In the third, he played the carom off the side wall to hold Ha-Seong Kim to a single. Then in the sixth, he made a long run to snare Aaron Nola’s drive on the warning track in the left-field corner.
Meanwhile, the stirrings in the second half of the Dodgers’ lineup got a little louder. Both Muncy and Cody Bellinger had multi-hit games with Bellinger hitting two home runs out of the ninth spot in the lineup.
In the third inning, he drove a Yu Darvish fastball over the wall in left-center field wall for a solo home run. Then in the seventh — with a single in between — Bellinger sent a 100-mph fastball from Padres reliever Luis Garcia on the same trajectory for a second solo home run.
It was Bellinger’s first multi-homer game since April 24 in San Diego. According to ESPN Stats and Info, he is the first Dodger player to have more than one multi-homer game against the Padres in the same season.
The other half of the Dodgers’ offense came from a familiar source — the top of the lineup.
Mookie Betts followed Bellinger’s first home run with a double. Two batters later, Freddie Freeman worked an eight-pitch at-bat, finally sending a two-out single into left field to drive Betts in.
And in the seventh, Trea Turner beat out an infield single, stole second base and scored on yet another two-out RBI single by Freeman.