Jake Cronenworth hit a tiebreaking, two-run single with two outs in the seventh inning and the San Diego Padres rallied past the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 Saturday night to advance to the NL Championship Series for the first time since 1998.
The Padres stunned the 111-win Dodgers with the five-run rally to win the best-of-five NL Division Series 3-1 in front of a raucous sellout crowd of 45,139 at Petco Park.
San Diego will host the Philadelphia Phillies in Games 1 and 2 of an all-wild card NLCS on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. The Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 8-3 to win their NLDS in four games.
The Padres last reached the NLCS 24 years ago when they beat the Atlanta Braves in six games and were then swept by the New York Yankees in the World Series. A handful of players from that team watched from a luxury suite, including Hall of Fame closer Trevor Hoffman and center fielder Steve Finley.
The game was delayed 31 minutes at the start by rain, which returned in the eighth inning and prompted a short delay while the grounds crew worked on the mound.
After left-hander Tyler Anderson stymied the Padres through five scoreless innings, the Padres broke through against the Dodgers’ bullpen in the seventh.
Jurickson Profar drew a leadoff walk against Tommy Kahnle, took third on Trent Grisham’s single to right and scored when Austin Nola’s infield single glanced off the glove of first baseman Freddie Freeman. Yency Almonte, who took the loss, came on and and was greeted by Kim Ha-seong’s RBI double down the left field line, followed by Juan Soto’s tying single to right.
With two outs and the crowd on it feet, Cronenworth singled to center off local product Alex Vesia to give the Padres the lead, punching the air with his right fist and hollering as he pulled into second base on the throw home. Soto, acquired from Washington in a blockbuster trade on Aug. 2, slid home headfirst and jumped up and cheered.
After the first rain delay, fans were amped up in anticipation of Joe Musgrove pitching his hometown Padres into the NL Championship Series. The big right-hander from suburban El Cajon, a first-time All-Star in 2022, was the first Padres pitcher from San Diego to make a postseason start in his hometown.
But Anderson outpitched Musgrove, holding the Padres to two hits through five innings.
The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the third. Mookie Betts walked with one out and Trea Turner scorched a grounder past third baseman Manny Machado, who has carried the Padres much of the season, to move Betts to third. Freeman, who helped the Braves win the World Series last year before signing with the Dodgers as a free agent, doubled down the right field line to bring them both in.
Will Smith hit a sacrifice fly against Steven Wilson with the bases loaded in the seventh for a 3-0 lead.
The Dodgers were left with a massive disappointment. Manager Dave Roberts predicted during spring training that they would win the World Series. They won the NL West for the ninth time in 10 seasons and finished 22 games ahead of San Diego. The Dodgers went 14-5 against the Padres in the regular season and had won nine straight regular-season series against them.
Musgrove was trying for his second straight playoff series-clinching win. On Sunday night, he dominated the New York Mets at Citi Field, allowing just one hit and one walk in seven innings in a 6-0 win that sent the Padres to the NLDS.
He gave up two runs and six hits in six innings against the Dodgers, struck out eight and walked three.