Mookie Betts paces homer-happy Dodgers in win over Padres

Mookie Betts connects for a three-run homer in the fourth inning. The blast was Betts’ career-best 33rd this season for the Dodgers, who beat San Diego 12-1 to end a three-game skid. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Mookie Betts threw his index finger at first base coach Clayton McCullough.

Then, for the 33rd time this season, he started a slow train around the bases.

On a hot Saturday night with the ball rolling at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers hit four home runs to send the San Diego Padres to 12-1.

None was bigger than Betts’ three-run blast in the fourth, which turned the Dodgers’ first three-run lead into an insurmountable six-run advantage and gave Betts a career high in homers, moving into fifth place on the MLB leaderboard with 33 this season.

“I think if you were to ask who’s going to lead our team in homers this year, I don’t think Mookie would be a lot of people’s first choice,” manager Dave Roberts said. “But he’s having a tremendous MVP-type season.”

Betts almost started the night with a different kind of homer, sending a leadoff line drive to right field in the first inning that Juan Soto didn’t make a mistake on, allowing Betts to briefly consider an inside-the-park effort before taking the stop sign. by head coach Dino Ebel in third place.

“I didn’t really want to have one inside the park,” Betts joked. “Very long run.”

Betts hit a home run moments later when Trea Turner hit a two-run homer to left to open the scoring.

Dodgers' Trea Turner, right, celebrates after hitting a two-run home run off Mookie Betts.

Trea Turner, right, celebrates with Dodgers teammate Mookie Betts after Turner hit a two-run, first-inning homer. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

After a Will Smith RBI double in the third made it 3-0, Betts doubled the advantage with a quick swing in the fourth.

In an 0-and-1 hole, Betts again displayed his most aggressive approach this season, taking an inside slider from Padres left-hander Sean Manaea and blasting it into the left-field stands.

Prior to this season, Betts’ career high for home runs was 32, which he hit during his MVP-winning 2018 campaign with the Boston Red Sox. He also had a 31-game campaign in 2016 and recorded 16 in just 55 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

“He’s not very physical,” Roberts said. “But he’s such a good hitter that when you hit it hard consistently, that’s what happens.”

Indeed, Betts’ small frame has always belied his slim pop. He emerged as a surprise hitter during his early years in Boston and carried over to his time in Los Angeles, where his 72 homers over the past three seasons are eight more than anyone else in the club.

This year, he also joins the NL home run race as he now trails only Kyle Schwarber (whose 36 are the most in the league), Austin Riley (35) and Paul Goldschmidt (34).

“It doesn’t surprise me because obviously it was me, I know what I’ve been doing my whole life,” Betts said of his power increase. “But I think it’s definitely a surprise to most people.”

Freddie Freeman scored Padres catcher Luis Campusano on Will Smith's third double for the Dodgers.

Freddie Freeman scored Padres catcher Luis Campusano on Will Smith’s third double for the Dodgers. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Betts wasn’t the only one to leave the yard on a 91-degree night in Chavez Ravine.

Trea Turner had his 19th of the season, good for third on the team. Smith hit a three-run shot in the sixth, tying Betts as the only other Dodger to reach 20 in 2022.

Justin Turner also added a two-run shot in the fifth, a blast that knocked Manaia out of the game, leaving the Padres left-hander with a 15.63 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers (91-41) this year.

Dodgers starter Julio Urías gave up one run in six innings against the Padres.

Dodgers starter Julio Urías gave up one run in six innings against the Padres. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

Julio Urías had no such problems with the Padres (74-60), yielding just one run (a homer to Manny Machado) in six strong innings to lower his NL-leading ERA to 2.29.

“When he takes the mound, good things usually happen,” Betts said. “We’ve just got to score some runs, give him some run support and he’ll take care of the rest.”

In what was the Dodgers’ third-most lopsided win of the year Saturday, that’s exactly what happened.

Blake Trainen is back

Blake Treinen completed his “miracle” comeback from a partially torn shoulder capsule, throwing a clean seventh inning on just five pitches.

The right-hander hadn’t pitched in the big leagues since mid-April. Before the game, he told reporters that because of the condition, he was close to requiring what would have been season-ending surgery.

However, Treinen’s injury took a surprisingly quick turn, allowing him to rehabilitate and return for the final month.

His comeback Saturday couldn’t have gone much better, as he hit 97 and 98 mph on the radar gun while retiring the side in the order.

David Price headed to IL

David Price will go on the injured list Sunday, Roberts said, after an MRI scan revealed inflammation in his left-handed wrist and hand.

Ryan Pepiot will be activated in place of Price and serve as the loose pitcher behind opener Caleb Ferguson in the series finale.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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