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Kenta Maeda fans nine to secure Dodgers' 4-2 win over Padres

Kenta Maeda struck out nine batters for the fourth game in a row as the Dodgers secured a 4-2 victory over the Padres. Maeda held San Diego to one run before exiting with two outs in the sixth inning.

The Dodgers provided enough support for Maeda to pull back within a half game of Arizona in the National League West. The offense created three runs in the third inning as San Diego made a series of questionable plays in the field. Daniel Hudson gave up a solo home run in the seventh, but the hitters cancelled that out when Chris Taylor supplied a two-out RBI single as insurance in the eighth.

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In his last four outings, Maeda has allowed only five runs, one of them unearned. He has excelled at missing bats, a quality which often eluded him in 2017. He reduced his earned-run average to 3.13.

Maeda yielded a run in the first inning. The first two San Diego batters connected for hits. After a single by outfielder Travis Jankowski, second baseman Carlos Asuaje redirected a 91-mph fastball into right field for an RBI double. Maeda recovered to avoid further damage. He struck out five batters in the first two innings.

A night before, the offense had managed only one run against Padres rookie Eric Lauer. Another rookie awaited on Wednesday. Joey Lucchesi entered the game with a 3.27 earned-run average. He ran into trouble in the third inning.

Robbed of hits on several occasions in this series, Enrique Hernandez splashed a one-out double. Matt Kemp tied the game by shooting a single into left field. A single by Max Muncy brought Logan Forsythe to the plate with runners at the corners and two outs.

Forysthe clipped a sharp grounder up the middle. Asuaje ranged to his right and scooped the baseball. His throw eluded shortstop Freddy Galvis at second base. Forsythe received credit for a go-ahead, RBI single.

The scorer would not reward Cody Bellinger for the next at-bat, but the Dodgers still produced an unearned run. After a wild pitch moved the runners up, Bellinger hit a grounder. Galvis scudded his throw in front of first baseman Eric Hosmer, who could not catch it. Bellinger was safe, and the Dodgers led by two.

Back on the mound, Maeda resumed carving up his hosts. He fooled outfielder Wil Myers with a changeup to end the third. He opened the fourth by fanning Hosmer with another changeup and spinning a slider past outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Lucchesi left the game after four innings. Maeda kept rolling. He erased a single in the fifth by inducing outfielder Franmil Reyes to hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play on an outside fastball.

The sixth inning was Maeda’s last. It started with a walk by Jankowski. A fielder’s choice followed. Maeda spotted a slider on the outside corner to Myers. The pitch earned the approval of umpire Ben May, who granted Maeda his ninth strikeout of the game. On cue, Roberts emerged from his dugout.

Maeda had thrown 92 pitches. At the plate was Hosmer, a left-handed hitter with a penchant for clubbing the baseball into the ground. Roberts brought in Scott Alexander, the Dodgers’ groundball specialist. The expected happened: Hosmer bounced into an inning-ending groundout.

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