Surging Padres continue to chip away at Dodgers’ lead in NL West


The Dodgers’ streak of seven straight NL West titles is hereby in peril. The Padres on Monday night defeated the Dodgers in the series opener at Petco Park (SD 7, LAD 2) and in doing so trimmed L.A.’s lead in the division to 1 1/2 games. The Padres have now won eight in a row and are 10-2 for the month of September. The Dodgers, meantime, are 7-5 this month. Mere days ago, the Dodgers had a six-game lead in the division.

In Monday night’s game, San Diego right-hander Dinelson Lamet was dominant opposite Clayton Kershaw:

Lamet became the first pitcher to record 10 or more strikeouts against the Dodgers this season. With the effort, the 27-year-old lowered his 2020 ERA to 2.12.

On the offensive side of things, Padres No. 9 hitter Trent Grisham hit his ninth home run of the season, and tempers appeared to flare as he passed the visitor’s dugout along the third-base line:

After the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts took exception to Grisham’s celebration at the expense of an active legend such as Kershaw:

Perhaps that sets the scene for the final two games of this series — and the final two Dodgers-Padres encounters of the regular season — on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Circling back to Monday’s opener, the Padres broke it open in the seventh, thanks in part to a pair of Max Muncy fielding miscues:

Lefty Drew Pomeranz worked a scoreless eighth for the Padres, and he still has yet to allow a run in 16 innings this season.

The Padres on Sunday clinched their first winning season since 2010. They haven’t made the playoffs or won the division since 2006. That playoff berth is a sure thing — the SportsLine Projection Model (@SportsLine on Twitter) gives San Diego a 100 percent chance of making the postseason — and the division title is much more attainable than it seemed even a few days ago. Right now everything’s coming up Padres, but the Dodgers still have the lead and recent history in their favor.

On this date a year ago, the Dodgers were 19 1/2 games in first place, and the Padres were 27 games out and in fourth place. While winning the division doesn’t mean as much thanks to the one-off structure of the 2020 postseason, overtaking the rival Dodgers would be a huge coup for the Padres and their thrilling young core. Such an outcome is now very much in play.

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