Play 162 games and you’re going to have a few games like this. The idea is to have as few as possible, those messy little affairs where balls drop and the brain freezes and runs are given away.
And the trick is, when they do happen, to still find a way to win.
After allowing the Padres to score three times in the seventh inning to take a one-run lead, the Dodgers came back with two of their own in the eighth. Alex Guerrero continued to deliver as a pinch-hitter, driving in the winning run with a bloop single.
Guerrero wants to play every day, but he has excelled coming off the bench. He is now six for 17 with three homers and eight RBIs as a pinch-hitter.
After the Dodgers rallied to regain the lead, Chris Hatcher and Adam Liberatore combined to hold the Padres scoreless in the eighth before Kenley Jansen set them down in the ninth to earn his eighth save. He gave up a two-out single but struck out the side.
Long forgotten by then was another strong start by Clayton Kershaw, not involved in the final decision despite giving up only one run in his 6 2/3 innings. He gave up four hits, three walks and struck out 11.
The Dodgers opened the scoring with a run in the third inning off right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne. Joc Pederson was hit by a pitch with two outs and third baseman Will Middlebrooks was charged with an error on a Yasiel Puig bouncer. That set up former Padre Adrian Gonzalez for an RBI single.
Los Angeles went up 2-0 in the fourth when Justin Turner, back for the first time since fouling a pitch off his right kneecap Monday, opened the inning with a single. He went to second on an Andre Ethier single and scored on A.J. Ellis’ basehit. It was just the third RBI of the season for Ellis.
Meanwhile, Kershaw was cruising. He started somewhat roughly, but found his rhythm and held the Padres scoreless through six innings. The seventh inning, however, was again a challenge.
With one out in the seventh, shortstop Clint Barmes jumped on Kershaw’s 113th pitch and sent it out to right-center field for a solo home run. That ended a 17-inning scoreless streak for Kershaw.
Kershaw got a second out before Manager Don Mattingly called on the erratic Yimi Garcia to face Wil Myers, which looked like a good move when Myers popped up. The trouble was Gonzalez had been ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the top of the inning and Turner had switched from third to first base. Turner went to catch the ball but ran into Garcia, who simply failed to get out of the way, let alone direct infield traffic. Turner was charged with a rough error.
Derek Norris jumped on Garcia’s next pitch for a two-run homer, and suddenly the Padres led 3-2.
The Dodgers, however, had some fight left. Howie Kendrick opened the eighth with a double off right-hander Dale Thayer and took third base when Matt Kemp’s throw got away from Barmes at second. Turner lined a single to score Kendrick and tie the score.
Ethier followed with a hit, Turner holding at second base. Turner, who seemed to be in the middle of everything Friday, was then picked off second by Norris when Jimmy Rollins pulled back a bunt attempt. Turner, still looking gimpy, did not even try to slide back to the bag.
Ellis walked and then Guerrero looped his single to center to score Ethier, who crossed home just before Ellis was thrown out trying to advance to third. Still, it was close.
Hatcher started the eighth and got two outs before Middlebrooks singled. Mattingly then called on Liberatore, who got pinch-hitter Yonder Alonso to fly out to center.