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Shohei Ohtani milestone can’t save Dodgers in loss to Padres


Shohei Ohtani pulled even with a boyhood idol with a milestone home run in the first inning and added doubles in the fifth and seventh innings on Friday night, but the Dodgers’ hottest hitter was left holding the bat in the on-deck circle during the final out of an 8-7, 11-inning loss to the San Diego Padres in at Dodger Stadium.

Ohtani sparked an early assault on Padres starter Michael King with a first-inning solo home run to left-center field that gave him 175 career homers, tying former New York Yankees and Angels slugger Hideki Matsui for the most homers by a Japanese-born major leaguer.

“I’m happy personally,” Ohtani said in Japanese through interpreter Will Ireton. “He’s known as a power hitter, a left-handed hitter like me. It’s an honor to be associated with somebody like that. Obviously, it’s a big deal in the Japanese baseball industry, so I’m going to look forward to the next one.”

The Dodgers followed Ohtani’s cue by adding three more homers — a Max Muncy solo shot, a Mookie Betts three-run bomb and a Teoscar Hernández two-run shot, which increased his major league-leading RBI total to 17 — in the second and third innings to take a 7-3 lead and position Yoshinobu Yamamoto for a win.

But San Diego torched the Dodgers bullpen for four runs in the sixth and seventh innings and nicked it for another run in the 11th, while the Dodgers couldn’t put a dent in the Padres bullpen over the final six innings, the difference in San Diego’s comeback victory in front of a crowd of 49,606.

“At times we were very good at collecting hits and keeping the line moving, and then in the later innings, we expanded the zone and our swings got bigger,” manager Dave Roberts said. “All you need is a base hit or to control the strike zone, and we didn’t do a good job of that. We caught a lead, but could’ve done a better job of finishing them off.”

Left-hander Ryan Yarbrough gave the Dodgers a chance by stranding the automatic runner on second base in the top of the 10th, and Will Smith advanced Freddie Freeman to third with a fly ball to deep center field to open the bottom of the 10th.

San Diego's Fernando Tatis Jr., left, hits a two-run home run off Dodgers reliever Ryan Brasier in the seventh inning Friday.

San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr., left, hits a two-run home run off Dodgers reliever Ryan Brasier in the seventh inning Friday.

(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

But after Muncy was intentionally walked, Hernández struck out on three pitches from Enyel De Los Santos, and Kiké Hernández flied to center against closer Roberto Suarez.

Dodgers left-hander Alex Vesia, who gave up two homers earlier in the week, retired the first two batters in the 11th but left an 0-and-2 fastball up and over the plate to rookie center fielder Jackson Merrill, who smacked it into left-center field for an RBI single and an 8-7 Padres lead.

“Alex did a nice job getting into leverage against Merrill, and you’ve just got to expand [the strike zone] right there,” Roberts said. “You’ve got to take advantage of that kind of leverage, and we didn’t do that.”

Suarez retired Chris Taylor, who is one for 32 with 17 strikeouts on the season, Miguel Rojas and Betts in order in the bottom of the 11th. The left-handed-hitting Taylor Trammell was available off the bench, but Roberts defended his decision to stick with the right-handed-hitting Taylor.

“He’s got to find his way,” Roberts said. “Chris has come up with big hits. So you’ve got to ride the guys, run them out there, and hopefully they find their way.”

Ohtani has certainly found his swing after a so-so start to the season, batting .458 (16 for 35) with four homers, seven doubles and six RBIs over his last eight games. He hit four balls with exit velocities of 102 mph or more Friday night and he was robbed of extra bases when Merrill made a diving catch of his second-inning drive on the warning track in left-center.

“Shohei, he’s doing it, man, he’s playing great baseball,” Roberts said. “He’s got that look in his eye like he wants to be at the plate. He’s just taking really good swings, hitting everything hard. I just marvel at what he’s done each day in his preparation, and just the talent is something that’s pretty remarkable.”

Yamamoto, who lasted only one inning against the Padres in his March 21 Dodgers debut in South Korea, giving up five runs and four hits in the 43-pitch outing, gave up three runs and four hits in five innings, striking out six and walking one, Friday night.

The 25-year-old right-hander was punished for two early mistakes, Manny Machado crushing a hanging curveball for a two-run homer to left field in the first and Ha-Seong Kim lining a fat fastball into the left-field seats for a solo shot in the second.

Yamamoto blanked the Padres over the next three innings, striking out Tyler Wade looking with a 95-mph fastball and Bogaerts looking at an 80-mph curve to end the fifth, but with his pitch count at 91, he was pulled after five.

“He did a nice job settling in, but unfortunately, like most of his starts, early on, he accrues a higher pitch count,” Roberts said. “Innings three, four and five, the breaking ball was sharp, the splitter was back, the fastball was good. But his pitch count was up at that point in time, and you just can’t run him back out there for the sixth.”

Reliever Daniel Hudson yielded a solo homer to Jake Cronenworth in the sixth, and Ryan Brasier gave up three runs in the seventh on a Xander Bogaerts’ RBI groundout and a Fernando Tatis Jr. two-run homer to left-center to tie the score 7-7.

“Huddy left a breaking ball that was up to Cronenworth, but I thought outside of that, he was good,” Roberts said. “You know, Braser tonight, I just didn’t think he was sharp, to be quite frank.”

Walker Buehler injury update

Walker Buehler’s third minor league rehabilitation start Friday, this one for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, was cut short after he was struck on the right hand by a comebacker in the second inning.

The erstwhile Dodgers ace, who is recovering from a second Tommy John surgery, finished the inning but did not come out for the third. Buehler gave up one run and three hits in the two innings, with one walk and no strikeouts, and threw only 27 pitches, well short of the 75-85 pitches he was slated for.

“I don’t think it was too serious,” Roberts said. “He came out as a precaution.”

Buehler made his first two starts for triple-A Oklahoma City, giving up three earned runs and five hits, striking out eight and walking two in eight innings, and was scheduled to make at least one more minor league start on Thursday before returning to the rotation.

Short hops

Ambar Roman, the 28-year-old Whittier resident who caught the ball Ohtani hit into the right-field pavilion for his first home run as a Dodger on April 3, met the Dodgers slugger and posed for pictures with him before Friday night’s game. “Just shook Ohtani’s hand … never washing my hand again,” Roman said in a social media post on X. “Best birthday ever!” … Right fielder Jason Heyward, put on the injured list because of lower-back tightness on April 3, took batting practice and ran wind sprints Friday and appears to be on track to return sometime next week. … Reliever Brusdar Graterol threw off a bullpen mound Friday for the first time since the right-hander was put on the 60-day injured list because of shoulder inflammation on April 2.


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