Dodgers waste Shohei Ohtani’s record-tying homer in loss to Padres

LOS ANGELES — Shohei Ohtani let the first pitch he saw from San Diego Padres right-hander Michael King sail past him for a ball in the first inning on Friday night at Dodger Stadium. Ohtani slammed the next one into the seats beyond the left-center field fence for a first-inning home run.

It was the 175th homer of Ohtani’s career, tying him with Hideki Matsui for the most by a Japanese-born player in Major League Baseball history. It also was his fourth since leaving the Angels for the Dodgers and signing a mammoth 10-year, $700 million contract during the offseason.

It would have been an added bonus if it was a prelude to a hard-hitting Dodgers’ victory, but it wasn’t to be as the Padres stormed back to win 8-7 on Jackson Merrill’s RBI single off reliever Alex Vesia with two outs in the 11th inning. Padres closer Robert Saurez blanked the Dodgers in the 11th for the win.

The Dodgers built a 7-3 lead over the Padres, by the end of the third inning, with all of their runs coming on homers. The Padres played video game baseball for a while, but couldn’t keep pace against Dodgers’ starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who atoned for a clunker of a MLB debut March 21 against San Diego.

As a cool, breezy afternoon turned into a cool, breezy evening, it didn’t seem the conditions were ideal for a home run-hitting contest. But in this era, all things seem possible and so it was that the ball rocketed to the outer reaches of Dodger Stadium right from the first inning Friday.

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Dodgers fan favorite Manny Machado delivered a two-run homer off Yamamoto in the first inning to give San Diego a 2-0 lead that would not last. Yamamoto lasted only one inning, giving up five runs on four hits against the Padres in Seoul, South Korea, a truly forgettable start to his MLB career.

There would be no repeat Friday.

Yamamoto gave up three runs and four hits with six strikeouts and one walk in five innings before Dodgers manager replaced him with Daniel Hudson to start the sixth inning. Yamamoto threw 91 pitches, including 60 for strikes, mixing a fastball in the 90 mph range with curves and changeups in the 70s.

Yamamoto did not get a decision, though, as the Padres rallied to tie it 7-7 against the Dodgers’ bullpen. Fernando Tatis Jr’s two-run homer off reliever Ryan Brasier in the seventh brought San Diego all the way back from a four-run deficit, capping a three-run inning.

Jake Cronenworth homered in the sixth off reliever Daniel Hudson to cut the Dodgers’ lead to 7-4.

Betts’ three-run homer gave the Dodgers a 5-3 lead in the second inning, coming to the plate only after an inning-extending error by San Diego second baseman Xander Bogaerts on Gavin Lux’s grounder. Betts followed Lux with a homer into the left-field stands on the first pitch he saw from King.

The inning ended with Ohtani sending a sinking line drive into left-center, a ball that seemed destined to result in a second extra-base hit. Padres center fielder Jackson Merrill robbed him with a superb diving catch. Ohtani also doubled in the fifth and seventh as he extended his hitting streak to eight games in a row.

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Ohtani is batting .457 (16 for 35) during his streak, with four homers, 12 extra-base hits and seven RBIs.

More to come on this story.

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