Dodgers pitchers struggle, issuing 14 walks in series-dropping loss to Padres

For so-called superteams like the Dodgers included, there is a universal kryptonite from which even a $300-million payroll isn’t immune.


In a 6-3 loss to the San Diego Padres on Sunday, the Dodgers issued 14 of them, shooting themselves again and again and again in the foot to drop a three-game weekend series at Chavez Ravine.

Free passes hadn’t exactly been an issue for the Dodgers this season. Entering Sunday, they had the 11th-lowest walk rate in the majors. But between James Paxton’s wild command (he walked eight in five-plus innings) and more shaky performances from the underbelly of a worn-out bullpen (culminating with a tiebreaking three-spot against J.P. Feyereisen in the seventh inning), the team’s fifth loss in its last nine games felt entirely of its own making.

Not since 1962 had a Dodgers pitching staff walked so many batters in a single game.

For a while, it looked as if the star-studded core of the Dodgers’ high-priced roster would compensate for the pitching gaffes.

After Paxton largely limited the damage through four innings — a solo home run by Manny Machado was his only early blemish on the scoreboard — the Dodgers surged to a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth, when Will Smith lined an RBI single and Max Muncy clobbered a two-run home run to right.

So far this season, those have been the rallies that typically cancel out mistakes. The Dodgers will falter on the mound, or in the field, or in a key situational at-bat from the bottom of the lineup, and then their star players will bail them out with a swift, merciless strike.

Only this time, their pitching staff couldn’t get out of its own way.

In the top of the sixth, Paxton walked his final two batters of the game, setting a high for his 11-year career. Reliever Ryan Brasier did the same in his first at-bat, loading the bases with no outs.

The Padres scored only two of the runners — one on a double play, the other on a two-out grounder Mookie Betts threw away after a difficult diving stop.

But with the Dodgers’ top two leverage relievers, Evan Phillips and Daniel Hudson, both down after pitching consecutive days, the team’s lack of late-game pitching options only compounded the problems.

In the seventh inning, the recently recalled Feyereisen loaded the bases on two walks and a single — then gave up a bases-clearing, go-ahead three-run double to Jurickson Profar, who was greeted with a smattering of boos after his heated exchange with catcher Will Smith the night before.

In the eighth and ninth, left-handers Alex Vesia and Nick Ramirez combined for three more bases on balls, giving the Dodgers their fourth-most walks in a game in franchise history.

And on a cold, cloudy night that began with a 35-minute rain delay, the Dodgers’ offense failed to respond, sending the team to its second series loss in the last three.

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