The Padres used a big inning Wednesday to bounce back and carry them to an 8-5 win over the Philadelphia Phillies, tying up the National League Championship Series.
With the victory, the best-of-seven series is even at 1-1 as the teams travel east for three games in Philadelphia beginning Friday.
The bats came alive in Game 2 after the pitchers’ duel in the opener, as the Padres and the Phillies each used small ball to build a lead.
At a hot and bright Petco Park – the thermometer read 92 degrees at game time – the Phillies, behind four singles and a sun-aided double in the second inning, built a 4-0 advantage.
Bryce Harper started the rally with a hit off Blake Snell, who entered the game with a 1-0 record and a 3.12 ERA in two postseason starts.
Nick Castellanos followed with another single, as did Alec Bohm, to right. Harper scored, and Bohm took second on a Juan Soto throwing error. After Snell struck out Jean Segura, Matt Vierling sent a ball deep to right, and Soto, struggling with the sun, lost it, covering his head with his glove to protect himself.
The ball fell to the ground, and Castellanos scored, then Edmundo Sosa hit a blooper to left to bring in Bohm. Kyle Schwarber knocked a hard grounder to Brandon Drury at first, who bobbled it before retiring the left fielder, but Vierling crossed the plate. Soto got his glove up in time to shade his eyes for the final out, a fly ball by Rhys Hoskins.
“Seemed like everything that was hit was soft served on him,” manager Bob Melvin said, adding that the circumstances could have ended up “frazzling” Snell, whom he credited for keeping his head.
So did his teammates, who immediately cut the lead in half thanks to Drury and Josh Bell. They led off the bottom of the inning with back-to-back solo home runs off Phillie starter Aaron Nola – Drury’s, a low line drive, cleared the left-field fence at the 342-feet sign. Bell hit a towering shot that sailed over the foul pole in right.
“I think it was important for us to claw back and respond there after their big inning,” Bell told Bally Sports San Diego.
Snell got out of another jam in the fifth after he walked Schwarber, who stole second base. The left-hander struck out both Hoskins and J.R. Realmuto. But in the bottom of the inning, Nola wasn’t so lucky, and his brother, Padre catcher Austin Nola, helped do the damage.
Ha-Seong Kim led off with a single. With one out, Austin Nola, after fighting off several pitches from his brother, singled as well, and Kim, with a big lead off first, made it all the way around to score. Profar followed with a single and a motivated Soto gave the ball a ride down the right-field line to bring in Austin Nola and tie it up 4-4.
Through Aaron Nola, who entered the game at 2-0 for the postseason, with a 0.00 ERA, struck out Manny Machado, he gave way to a shaky Brad Hand after pitching just 4 and 2/3 innings.
Hand hit Jake Cronenworth to load the bases, bringing up Drury, who gave the Padres their first lead of the day, 6-4, with a single to center. Bell then sent a single through the right side, scoring Cronenworth for the Friars’ fifth run of the inning.
The downside to the big inning? Snell couldn’t return after a layoff of around 35 minutes, but Nick Martinez threw two innings of scoreless ball to keep his team ahead. Robert Suarez followed and gave up a solo homer to Hoskins in the eighth, but Machado already had given the Padres a cushion with his own seventh inning solo shot.
He also let his glove do the talking, helping Martinez out of a jam – Harper had doubled – in the sixth, then starting a double play off Harper’s bat in the eighth to rescue Suarez. Melvin said there were big outs in the game, but none “more so than that double play.”
So Josh Hader entered the game with a 8-5 lead and a chance to save his fourth game in the playoffs. Throwing 100 mph, it didn’t take him long to do so as he struck out the side for the win.
Moving on to Game 3, Melvin said simply, at “1-1 feels a lot better” than down by two.
The teams travel to Philadelphia for the next three games; first up, at about 4:35 p.m. Friday, with Joe Musgrove facing Ranger Suarez. The game airs on FS1.