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DIVISION SERIES – Cronenworth and Padres come back to eliminate Dodgers

Jake Cronenworth hit a two-out, two-run single in the seventh inning and the San Diego Padres beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-3 on Saturday 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 crowd of 45,139 at Petco Park.

San Diego hosts the Philadelphia Phillies in Games 1 and 2 of a 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 made it to the NLCS 24 years ago when they beat the Atlanta Braves in six games and then were 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 early by rain, which returned in the eighth inning and caused a brief delay while the grounds crew worked on the mound.

After left-hander Tyler Anderson hampered the Padres for five scoreless innings, the Padres fought their way into the Dodgers’ bullpen in the seventh.

Jurickson Profar walked Tommy Kahnle, took third on Trent Grisham’s single to right and scored when Austin Nola’s infield single came off first baseman Freddie Freeman’s glove.

çYency Almonte, who took the loss, came on and was greeted by Kim Ha-seong’s RBI double down the left field line, followed by Juan Soto’s single to right.

With two outs and the crowd on its feet, Cronenworth singled into hometown product Alex Vesia to give the Padres the lead, punching the air with his right fist and yelling as he reached second base on the throw home.

Soto, acquired from Washington in a blockbuster trade on Aug. 2, slipped headfirst and jumped and cheered.

After the first rain delay, fans buzzed in anticipation of Joe Musgrove launching his hometown Padres to the NL Championship Series.

The great right-hander from suburban El Cajon, an All-Star for the first time in 2022, was the first San Diego Padres pitcher to make a postseason start in his hometown.

But Anderson outscored Musgrove, holding the Padres to two hits in five innings.

The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the third. Mookie Betts walked with one out and Trea Turner burned an outfielder 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.

Will Smith hit a sacrifice fly off Steven Wilson with the bases loaded in the seventh for a 3-0 lead.

The Dodgers were left with a huge 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 to get his second straight win in the playoff series. On Sunday night, he dominated the New York Mets at Citi Field, allowing just one hit and one walk over seven innings in a 6-0 victory that sent the Padres to the NLDS.

He allowed two runs on six hits in six innings against the Dodgers, striking out eight and walking three.

FIRST LAUNCH

Jake Peavy, the 2007 National League Cy Young Award winner who was Musgrove’s boyhood idol, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to former teammate Mark Loretta. Musgrove traded to No. 44 from Peavy after he was obtained by the Padres before the 2021 season.

Peavy said he sent a text message congratulating Musgrove after he pitched the first no-hitter in franchise history on April 9, 2021, and first met him this weekend.

“I’m honored that this guy saw me,” Peavy said of being Musgrove’s idol, “because I did it with Roger Clemens and the Nolan Ryans of the world. I looked up to these guys and stole some of their game to become my own version of myself.

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