Shohei Ohtani milestone can't hide Dodgers' bullpen woes in loss to Padres

Shohei Ohtani pulled even with one of his boyhood idols with a milestone home run in the first inning and added doubles in the fifth and seventh innings to extend a torrid eight-game stretch in which the Dodgers slugger is batting .458 (16 for 35) with four homers, seven doubles and six RBIs.

But the San Diego Padres torched the Dodgers bullpen for four runs in the sixth and seventh innings and nicked it for another run in the 11th while the Dodgers couldn’t make a dent on the Padres bullpen over the final six innings, the difference in San Diego’s 8-7, 11-inning comeback victory in front of 49,606 at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.

Ohtani hit the 175th home run of his career in the first inning, tying him with former New York Yankees and Angels slugger Hideki Matsui for the most homers by a Japanese-born major leaguer, but he was left in the on-deck circle when Mookie Betts flied out to center field with a runner on third to end the game.

The Padres scored the winning run in the top of the 11th off Dodgers left-hander Alex Vesia, who retired the first two batters on a strikeout and popup before yielding a two-out, two-strike RBI single to rookie Jackson Merrill for an 8-7 San Diego lead.

Padres closer Roberto Suarez retired three straight batters in the bottom of the 11th to seal the win.

Dodgers starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto gave up three runs and four hits in five innings, striking out six and walking one, and was in line for a win after the Dodgers’ offense busted out for seven runs and five hits, four of them homers, in the first three innings.

But the bullpen couldn’t hold a 7-3 lead, reliever Daniel Hudson yielding a solo homer to Jake Cronenworth in the sixth inning and Ryan Brasier giving up three runs in the seventh on a Xander Bogaerts’ RBI groundout and a Fernando Tatis Jr. two-run homer to left-center to tie the score 7-7.

Yamamoto lasted only one inning against the Padres in his March 21 Dodgers debut in South Korea, giving up five runs and four hits in the 43-pitch outing, before recovering to hold the St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs scoreless over five innings in each of his next two starts.

The 25-year-old right-hander was punished for two early mistakes Friday, Manny Machado crushing a hanging curveball for a two-run homer to left field in the first and Ha-Seong Kim lining a fat fastball into the left-field seats for a solo shot in the second.

But Yamamoto blanked the Padres in the third, fourth and fifth innings, striking out Tyler Wade looking with a 95-mph fastball and Bogaerts looking an 80-mph curve to end the fifth, and departed with a 7-3 lead.

Ohtani sent a 107-mph line drive 403 feet over the left-center field wall off of Padres right-hander Michael King in the first to cut San Diego’s lead to 2-1, and Max Muncy smacked a line drive over the short wall in the right-field corner to lead off the second to trim the deficit to 3-2.

James Outman walked with one out, and Bogaerts, the Padres second baseman, booted Gavin Lux’s two-out grounder to put two on. Betts, who had cooled considerably since his torrid start, with no RBIs in his previous seven games, sent a towering three-run homer 409 feet to left for a 5-3 lead.

Freddie Freeman led off the third with a single, and Teoscar Hernández drove a two-out, opposite-field homer to right for a 7-3 lead, giving the Dodgers right fielder five homers and a major league-leading 17 RBIs on the season.

But the Dodgers managed only two hits over the next six innings, with Padres relievers Stephen Kolek, Yuki Matsui, Wandy Peralta and Tom Cosgrove combining for four scoreless innings to give San Diego a chance to come back.

Dodgers left-hander Ryan Yarbrough threw a scoreless top of the 10th, and the Dodgers threatened in the bottom of the 10th when Freeman, the automatic runner, tagged up and took third on Will Smith’s inning-opening fly ball to deep center.

Muncy was intentionally walked, but with runners on first and third and one out, Hernández struck out on three pitches against right-hander Enyel De Los Santos, and Kiké Hernández flied out to center against Suarez to send the game to the 11th.

Walker Buehler injury update

Walker Buehler’s third minor league rehabilitation start Friday, this one for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga, was cut short after he was struck on the right hand by a comebacker in the second inning.

The erstwhile Dodgers ace, who is recovering from a second Tommy John surgery, finished the inning but did not come out for the third. Buehler gave up one run and three hits in the two innings, with one walk and no strikeouts, and threw only 27 pitches, well short of the 75-85 pitches he was slated for.

Buehler made his first two starts for triple-A Oklahoma City, giving up three earned runs and five hits, striking out eight and walking two in eight innings.

“He’s trending the right way,” manager Dave Roberts said Friday afternoon. “His recovery is good. He’s strong. The ball is coming out well. We’re really close.”

Buehler was scheduled to make at least one more minor league start Thursday, but after Friday‘s start was cut short, he probably will need at least two more minor league games before rejoining the rotation.

Short hops

Ambar Roman, the 28-year-old Whittier resident who caught the ball Ohtani hit into the right-field pavilion for his first home run as a Dodger on April 3, met the Dodgers slugger and posed for pictures with him before Friday night’s game. “Just shook Ohtani’s hand … never washing my hand again,” Roman said in a social media post on X. “Best birthday ever!” … Right fielder Jason Heyward, put on the injured list because of lower-back tightness on April 3, took batting practice and ran wind sprints Friday and appears to be on track to return sometime next week. … Reliever Brusdar Graterol threw off a bullpen mound Friday for the first time since the right-hander was put on the 60-day injured list because of shoulder inflammation on April 2.

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