Hill, Barnes carry Dodgers to rout of Padres
LOS ANGELES -- On a Los Angeles Dodgers team loaded with veteran stars and the presumptive National League Rookie of the Year, no one is playing better than a well-traveled 13-year veteran left-hander and a hybrid catcher/second baseman who began the season with three career RBIs.
The play of Rich Hill and Austin Barnes underscores the Dodgers’ remarkable depth, as the duo showed Wednesday in Los Angeles’ 10-0 rout of the San Diego Padres.
The Dodgers completed a three-game sweep with their fourth win in a row. The Padres lost their fourth consecutive game.
Hill, who is with his eighth major league team, earned his 12th win with an impressive seven-inning, two-hit, 10-strikeout outing. Hill (12-8) is 9-5 in his past 16 starts with a 2.68 ERA, a 0.94 WHIP and 131 strikeouts in 100 2/3 innings.
“All my pitches were working,” Hill said. “It was a good way to end the regular season. Now it’s just a matter of keeping the effort consistent.”
Said Barnes: “I love catching Rich. He has a big hammer of a curve and a fastball that says 90 (mph on the radar gun) but feels like 96.”
Barnes has worked his way from being a utility player into a guy who thrives when he starts. He was 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs to headline the offense on a night that Yasiel Puig (27th of the year), Curtis Granderson (26th) and Corey Seager (22nd) homered.
Barnes made his 52nd start Wednesday and drove his starting numbers to a .301 average and .425 on-base percentage with 23 extra-base hits, eight home runs and 33 RBIs.
“I approach things the same way whether I start or pinch-hit,” Barnes said. “You always feel more comfortable when you know you’re getting three or four at-bats. I just try to put a good swing on the ball and have good at-bats.”
The Dodgers (102-57) tied the 1962 and 1974 teams for the most victories in a season since the franchise moved to Los Angeles. The Dodgers have clinched home-field advantage for the National League postseason, and their magic number to clinch home field should they reach the World Series is one.
”It was a good stress-free night for Rich,“ Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said. ”He had complete command and had great life on his fastball.
“Austin takes quality at-bats and he’s worked his way into being a guy who can start. The body of work between our two catchers (Barnes and Yasmani Grandal), the way they hit and their defensive metrics, make them to me the best pair of catchers in baseball.”
Padres starter Clayton Richard (8-15) was tagged for eight hits, eight runs (six earned) and three walks in five innings. He fanned seven. Ten of the first 17 batters he faced reached base.
Yangervis Solarte had two of the Padres’ three hits.
The series concluded a stretch of September that saw the Padres play 26 straight games against teams with a winning record.
“It’s been a playoff team every night,” San Diego manager Andy Green said. “We didn’t do much this series, but the experience of competing against these teams is good for our young players.”
Los Angeles took a 2-0 lead in the first inning, loading the bases with no outs and scoring two runs on a sacrifice fly by rookie Cody Bellinger, his 96th RBI, and a groundout by Enrique Hernandez.
A Barnes double and Hill’s RBI single to left made it 3-0 in the third. It was Hill’s fourth RBI of the season after he hadn’t driven in a run since 2009.
Los Angeles blew the game open in the fourth as Hernandez, Logan Forsythe, Barnes and Puig strung together four straight hits to make it 7-0. Puig homered in the fifth to make it 8-0, and Granderson and Seager hit back-to-back solo home runs in the sixth.
NOTES: Los Angeles CF Chris Taylor landed awkwardly on first base in the first inning and left the game as a precaution. He is expected to play in the final series at Colorado ... Dodgers 1B Adrian Gonzalez woke up Wednesday with tightness in his back, and he will be out of the rest of the regular season and postseason. The veteran missed 67 games on two separate trips to the DL with a herniated disc, the first time in his career he went on the DL. ... The Dodgers will start LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu Friday and LHP Clayton Kershaw on Saturday against the Rockies. Kershaw will work with a modest pitch count. Yu Darvish and Alex Wood may make cameo appearances in the regular season finale Sunday. ... OF Hunter Renfroe was hitless Wednesday but made an impact against the Dodgers this season, hitting .298 with eight extra-base hits. ... The Padres will start RHPs Jordan Lyles, Jhoulys Chacin and Luis Perdomo in their final three games at San Francisco.