LOS ANGELES >> Yu Darvish didn’t have to be perfect on Monday. Logan Forsythe didn’t have to hit for the cycle.
In a game that was over early and meant little, at least they offered the announced crowd of 49,419 at Dodger Stadium a remote measure of suspense.
Darvish took a perfect game into the fifth inning of the Dodgers’ 9-3 win over the San Diego Padres, while Forsythe went 3 for 3 with four RBIs and finished a triple shy of the cycle.
The nine runs were the most the Dodgers have scored in a game since July 19, but it barely resembled a tune-up for the postseason. Three Padres pitchers – Travis Wood, Cory Mazzoni and Tim Melville – saw their earned-run averages grow to 6.71, 18.00, and 7.71 respectively. The caliber of competition can only get harder.
For a day at least, there were plenty of confidence-builders to go around.
Austin Barnes got a rare start at second base and hit a three-run home run against Mazzoni in the fifth inning. Forsythe hit a solo home run against Wood. Yasmani Grandal went 2 for 4 with a double – 0-for-2 as a right-handed hitter and 2-for-2 as a lefty. Every starting position player reached base at least once.
The Dodgers reached 100 wins in a season for the first time since 1974. Five games remain in the regular season. The franchise record for wins in a season is 105, set in Brooklyn in 1953. If all five of its remaining games were against the Padres, this team would have a better chance of tying the record.
The Dodgers (100-57) moved a game and a half ahead of the idle Cleveland Indians (98-58) for the best record in baseball, with home-field advantage throughout the postseason at stake. They can clinch home-field advantage through at least the National League Championship Series as early as today. Only the Washington Nationals (95-61) can catch the Dodgers, and they are running out of time.
In what figured to be his penultimate regular-season start, Darvish (10-12) allowed one earned run in seven innings, lowering his ERA to 3.86. Since joining the Dodgers, his ERA is 3.44. The right-hander did not walk a batter and struck out nine.
No Padres reached base against Darvish until Cory Spangenberg was hit by a pitch in the fifth inning. The next batter, Hunter Renfroe, hit a double. Spangenberg scored on the play, dashing Darvish’s chance at a perfect game, a no-hitter and a shutout in less than a minute.
Making his first appearance since he was sent to the bullpen, right-hander Kenta Maeda allowed a pair of runs in the eighth inning. One scored on a throwing error, and the only two hits he allowed were weak infield singles.
Beleaguered right-hander Pedro Baez allowed a pair of hits in the ninth inning but struck out three, including Austin Hedges to strand runners on second and third base to end the game.