SAN DIEGO — The rebuilding San Diego Padres won’t reach the post-season this year, and maybe not for the next few years.
They’re got this, though — three straight September wins against the runaway NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, who continue to have the best record in the majors but have lost eight of nine in their worst stretch of the year.
Erick Aybar hit a go-ahead, two-run homer and Jose Pirela also went deep off Alex Wood as the Padres beat the Dodgers 6-4 Sunday. San Diego took the final three games of the four-game series, including a doubleheader sweep Saturday.
"The guys are resilient," manager Andy Green said. "They’ve been that way all year. They believe in each other. They’ve played good baseball for an extended period of time after starting the season 15-30. You don’t get the luxury of being a championship team by X-ing out the first month and a half, but we’re taking steps in the right direction."
The Padres got seven strong innings from Jhoulys Chacin, who said the three straight wins against the Dodgers can’t be understated.
"Huge," the right-hander said. "I think that’s what Andy wants to see from us, is this late in the season, when the Dodgers are getting ready for the playoffs, and they come here and we take three out of four. We pitched real well today. The only game we lost was 1-0 against (Clayton) Kershaw. That wasn’t that bad."
San Diego won three straight against Los Angeles for the first time since June 2013. Although they’re buried in fourth in the NL West, 30 1/2 games behind LA, the Padres won’t have the super bad season many expected. They’re 62-75, and the Dodgers are 92-44.
The Dodgers return home for a three-game series starting Monday against Arizona, which swept them in Phoenix last week.
"I think it’s a statistical improbability to go an entire season without really getting punched in the face at any time," said Wood (14-2), who was activated from the disabled list and made his first start since Aug. 21. "It’s kind of one of those things where we’ve been so good for so long that we have a rough patch for a week and it’s like, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on?’ It happens to everybody. The best teams in the world this happens to. We’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep playing the baseball that we’re supposed to, and we’ll come out of it and be fine."
Cody Bellinger hit his 36th home run to break Mike Piazza’s Dodgers rookie record, set in 1993. It came with one out in the ninth off All-Star closer Brad Hand, who got his 15th save.
"It feels great," he said. "To be in the same sentence as Piazza was awesome, and to now pass him, it feels pretty special. It’s a team game so hopefully we get out of this and start winning some games again."
Aybar’s shot to left-centre in the fourth gave San Diego a 3-2 lead. His seventh, it followed Matt Szczur’s leadoff double. Pirela homered into the second deck in left with one out in the fifth, his 10th.
Aybar returned Friday after missing 37 games due to an injury caused when he fouled a ball off his left foot on July 21.
Pirela said homering off Wood was satisfying, particularly after what happened on June 30. In the bottom of the first that night, Wood yelled at Pirela, thinking that he was signalling Manuel Margot from second base. The Padres believed Wood threatened Pirela.
Green and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had words. Roberts charged Green and bumped him. Both benches cleared, and both managers were ejected.
After homering off Wood Sunday, Pirela kept his left arm extended as he ran toward first and watched the ball sail away.
Pirela also had a nice catch in left, but said the homer was bigger. "It’s not something you do every day," he said.
The Dodgers closed to 4-3 in the seventh. Bellinger’s fly to left-centre fell in among three defenders and rolled away for a triple, and he scored on Yasmani Grandal’s sacrifice fly. The Dodgers were poised to add on, as Yasiel Puig followed with a double and Alex Verdugo an infield single. But Logan Forsythe hit a chopper to Yangervis Solarte, who stepped on third and then threw to first to end the inning.
San Diego’s Wil Myers hit a two-run single in the bottom of the inning.
Chacin (12-10) retired his first nine batters before Chris Taylor homered leading off the fourth to tie it at 1. Justin Turner added an RBI double for a 2-1 lead.
Chacin gave up three runs, two earned, and five hits in seven innings with eight strikeouts and no walks.
Wood allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings, struck out seven and walked three.
Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (9-6, 2.97) is scheduled to start Monday, and Arizona counters with LHP Robbie Ray (11-5, 2.97).
Padres: RHP Luis Perdomo (7-8, 4.69) opens a four-game series against St. Louis, which counters with RHP Carlos Martinez (10-10, 3.52).