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Dodgers’ Kenta Maeda dominates Padres with his arm and his bat

Dodger right fielder Cody Bellinger leaps to try to catch a deep fly ball hit for a double by the Padres’ Manny Machado during the fourth inning of Wednesday’s game at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
The Padres’ Ty France #11 throws to first base but the Dodgers’ Corey Seager #5 beats the throw and is safe at first base in the bottom of the second inning during their game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
Sound The gallery will resume in seconds The Dodgers’ Justin Turner #10 is hit by a pitch during their game against the Padres at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda #18 singles to right filed to score two runs in the bottom of the second inning the during their game against the Padres at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda #18 singles to right filed to score two runs in the bottom of the second inning the during their game against the Padres at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
The Padres’ Manuel Margot #7 watches as Dodger catcher Russell Martin #55 runs into the netting chasing a foul ball during their game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
The Padres’ Manny Machado #13 reacts after hitting a double in the top of the fourth inning during their game against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda throws to the plate during Wednesday’s game against the Padres at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda #18 singles in the bottom of the fourth inning the during their game against the Padres at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles Wednesday, May 15, 2019. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
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LOS ANGELES — Being the best-hitting pitcher on the Dodgers isn’t often a high honor. Wednesday, Kenta Maeda had bragging rights over his teammates by virtue of his .188 batting average when the day began. That’s nothing to write home about, though many Japanese-language reporters were tasked with doing exactly that.
For a day, Maeda’s hitting stood out nearly as much as his pitching. His batting average is up to .263 now thanks to a pair of hits against the San Diego Padres. His two-run single in the second inning accounted for both runs in the Dodgers’ 2-0 win before an announced crowd of 41,671 at Dodger Stadium.
The right-hander (5-2) allowed three hits over 6 ⅔ shutout innings in his strongest start of the season. Including the six shutout innings he threw against the Nationals on Friday, Maeda (5-2) has lowered hie earned-run average from 4.66 to 3.51 in the span of two starts.
“Even though I did say it was one of my best pitching performances last time,” Maeda said through an interpreter, “I’m pretty sure this one surpasses that.”
Dodger starting pitchers went 7-2 with a 1.49 earned-run average during the nine-game homestand.
The Dodgers (29-16) took both ends of the two-game series against the Padres (22-21). They hold a 4 ½-game lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks with an off-day waiting Thursday. They begin a three-city, eight-game road trip Friday in Cincinnati.
Maeda changed speeds effectively on a four-seam fastball in the 89-93 mph range. He peppered the Padres’ six right-handed hitters with fadeaway sliders. His changeup and curveball command were more than adequate; the last time Maeda didn’t walk a batter in a start was July 24, 2018 in Philadelphia.
All 12 of his third strikes were swings and misses, which Maeda believed to be a new career high – even including his eight professional seasons in Japan.
“It’s hard to imagine him being any better, really,” Manager Dave Roberts said of Maeda. “Especially when you saw a team less than 10 days ago. To go out there and play that cat-and-mouse game, execute the fastball like he did tonight, the slider down below, the split-change … it was really, really fun to watch.”
Maeda struck out six in a row between the second and the fourth innings, three shy of a franchise record. The streak ended when Manny Machado’s fly ball to right field twisted Cody Bellinger around and landed on the warning track for a double.
Roberts pulled Maeda after only 85 pitches, 21 of his season high.
“Even though I believe it is a starter’s duty to start an inning and then end an inning, overall we were able to get the win tonight so I think it was the right move,” Maeda said.
“That seventh inning, I started to see the ball go a little bit wide,” Roberts said. “The slider wasn’t as sharp. He made a good pitch on (Hunter) Renfroe. Missed a couple times with the fastball in the zone and it just wasn’t quite getting there. So for me, I just felt that it was a great outing and I just felt that was the time.”
Scott Alexander recorded the final out of the seventh inning and induced a routine ground ball to first base by Ty France to begin the eighth. Alexander covered first base to receive a short toss from first baseman David Freese, but dropped the ball before stepping on the bag. France was safe on the error.
Pedro Baez took over and finished the eighth inning unscathed. Kenley Jansen worked around a pair of hits in the ninth inning, striking out Renfroe and Alex Dickerson to end the game. It was Jansen’s 14th save of the season.
The Dodgers collected eight hits against Matt Strahm (1-3) and three San Diego relievers. Only Maeda’s shallow pop-up down the right-field line resulted in a run.
Corey Seager led off the second inning with a single, and went to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Taylor. Alex Verdugo legged out an infield single, but remained on first base after the Dodgers successfully challenged the initial “out” call at first base by umpire Tripp Gibson. Roberts has won eight challenges and lost four this season.
Verdugo stole second base uncontested and Russell Martin struck out. That put the bat in Maeda’s hands with runners at second and third and two outs. The pitcher poked a 1-and-2 slider into shallow right field, where three Padres converged but could not catch the baseball. Seager and Verdugo scored easily, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
Maeda said he thought it would be caught.
Verdugo wasn’t sure.
“I knew he hit it in kind of like that triangle where the first (baseman), second (baseman) and right fielder get there at the same time,” he said. “Two outs, off the contact, I knew I was going to score if it did get down.”
Maeda also singled in the fourth inning and finished 2-for-3. His goal when he steps into the batter’s box?
“If there’s no runner on base, then I’m just going to go yard,” he said. “If there’s a runner on base or in scoring position, my main focus is on getting them back home.”
Justin Turner’s extended his streak to four consecutive games being hit by a pitch, matching a franchise record set by Hughie Jennings on Sept. 20, 1900. Verdugo was also hit by a pitch – on his 23rd birthday, no less.
“I told (Turner) if I got hit like you I’d have to use a 30-ounce bat. I wouldn’t be able to feel my arms,” Verdugo said. “Then the very next at-bat I got smoked in my arm.”

We'll take a dozen, please. pic.twitter.com/A0H77Bz3Ki
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) May 16, 2019


Kenta Maeda is the first @Dodgers pitcher to strike out 12+, allow 0 R and drive in 2+ runs since Brad Penny in 2007. pic.twitter.com/TuPufGXZ1C
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) May 16, 2019


'I'll never lose confidence on my number one pitch.' @kenleyjansen74 talks post-game with @alannarizzo about tonight's save. pic.twitter.com/8uogmZ3d3f
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) May 16, 2019

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