SAN DIEGO (AP) — With one mighty swing against Kenley Jansen, Hunter Renfroe hit a grand slam that prevented San Diego from being swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers and finally gave Padres fans a chance to roar.
Renfroe’s pinch-hit slam with two outs in the ninth inning lifted the Padres to a thrilling 8-5 victory Sunday. It was his fifth career slam and second walkoff homer.
Renfroe didn’t even have to follow the flight of the ball to know it was gone, driven into the balcony on the third level of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building in the left-field corner. He raised his arms, dropped his bat, pointed to the Padres’ dugout and began his trot. He was doused with two coolers of water by jubilant teammates as he crossed the plate.
“I had to go back and watch what I did, too. I didn’t know where the ball went. I didn’t even look at it,” Renfroe said.
The Padres appeared headed for their third straight one-run loss to the Dodgers — San Diego had an early lead in all three games — before Renfroe homered on a 93 mph cutter.
“It’s incredible. You can’t say how it feels unless you’ve done it,” Renfroe said. “This is my second walkoff home run and there’s nothing like it in this world. You can hit a home run in the first inning, second inning, it’s nothing compared to a walkoff, in this situation against the Dodgers.”
There were thousands of Dodgers fans in the sellout crowd of 44,473, but Padres fans finally got to cheer at the end.
The Padres started the winning rally with three straight singles off Jansen (2-1), who was trying for his third save in three games. Eric Hosmer hit a leadoff single to left and Manuel Margot and Wil Myers followed with bunt singles. Jansen struck out Greg Garcia and got rookie Francisco Mejia to pop up before Renfroe’s slam.
“That’s as fun a one we’ve had at any point in time in the last couple of years for sure,” manager Andy Green said. “That’s a big win. He’s a tough guy to come back against. That’s a tremendous swing from Hunter. It seems like every time he pinch hits with the bases loaded, he does something like that. He loves those moments.”
Myers’ perfectly placed bunt rolled to a hole at shortstop as the Dodgers’ defense broke down.
“It was just miscommunication,” Jansen said. “A situation like that, you’ve just got to go for one out. Stuff’s going to happen, and you’ve just got to get out of it. It’s obviously a tough situation, no outs, based loaded. I fought until the end, just one bad pitch cost me the game.
“If that’s the way they have to beat me, I’ll take that. It’s a compliment for me. Two perfect bunts; that’s how they beat me,” Jansen said.
Margot bunted on his own and Myers’ bunt was called for, “to try to see if we could force them off the mound a little bit; see what kind of reaction they had to Manny’s bunt,” Green said.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said third baseman Justin Turner thought Jansen could get the ball. “Kenley didn’t really make an effort right there,” Roberts said. “Doesn’t really matter whose ball it was, we didn’t make the play.
“We were a couple strikes away from closing this thing out,” Roberts said. “With Renfroe off the bench, we didn’t execute again. Made a mistake at the big part of the plate and a guy that’s got that kind of power can put a charge into it. Once he got Garcia, then you get Mejia, I really liked our chances.”
Adam Warren (2-0) pitched a perfect ninth for the win.
Chris Taylor hit a go-ahead, two-run home run in the eighth inning for the Dodgers off Robbie Erlin, his third this season and the Dodgers’ fifth in the series. Max Muncy was aboard on a leadoff walk.
Muncy hit a three-run shot to right with two outs in the fifth off rookie lefty Nick Margevicius.
Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda allowed four runs and three hits in six innings, struck out six and walked three.
San Diego’s Franmil Reyes hit a home run estimated at 458 feet a monster homer to the top of the second deck in left field with one out in the first, his ninth.
Mejia and Garcia helped give San Diego a 4-0 lead. Garcia walked with two outs in the second and scored on Mejia’s triple to right. In the fourth, Garcia doubled to bring in Hosmer, aboard on a leadoff walk, and Mejia followed with a sacrifice fly to bring in Myers, aboard on a one-out walk.
Dodgers: 1B Cody Bellinger struck out as a pinch-hitter for Maeda in the eighth. He didn’t start for the second straight game after dislocating his right shoulder diving for a ball Friday night. His shoulder popped back in and he finished that game.
Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler (3-0, 5.22) is scheduled to start Monday night’s opener of a home series against Atlanta, which will counter with RHP Kevin Gausman (1-2, 4.83).
Padres: Rookie RHP Chris Paddack (2-1, 1.91) is scheduled to start in the opener of a home series against 2018 NL Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom (2-3, 3.82) and the New York Mets.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports