LOS ANGELES – Max Scherzer was hoping for his 3,000th career strikeout. He had his family, and Los Angeles Dodgers fans knew it was coming.
As if that wasn’t enough history for a day, he also threw an almost perfect game.
Scherzer achieved his milestone and took a perfect game in the eighth inning as the Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 8-0 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.
“In the fifth or sixth, I realized I had something going on there,” he said. “Once I got to sixth, I was like, ‘I got a chance to do this.'”
Wish it didn’t have to be.
Scherzer retired his first 22 batsmen, including Fernando Tatis Jr., before Eric Hosmer doubled from deep right with one in the eighth. On the second day of the day, a crowd of 42,637, including his wife, three children and parents, saluted Scherzer with a standing ovation.
“I knew Tatis and Hosmer were going to be difficult to bat on,” Scherzer said. “Hosmer, we’ve had a lot of battles over the years. I pulled a change down and he was able to put a barrel in it.
In fifth Scherzer reached 3,000 career strikeouts when Hosmer went down swinging in the second half of the innings. The crowd roared long and loud for the 37-year-old All-Star, who took off his hat and hurled the historic ball toward the dugout.
“To me, it’s a testament to durability,” Scherzer said. “Making my 30-plus starts in a year, year, and year. It just feels good for the hard work I’ve put in to get to this moment.”
Scherzer scored nine runs in eight innings on 92 pitches for his 10th consecutive win.
“I like strike because the ball is not in play,” he said. “They can’t hit when the ball isn’t in play. When the ball is in play, anything can happen.”
The three-time Cy Young Award winner played an impeccable innings with three strikes on nine pitches in the second.
“When he got a strike out, people started swinging first because they didn’t want to be the 3,000th,” said teammate Mookie Bates. “I don’t blame them.”
Scherzer has bounced 29 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run and is 6-0 in eight games with a 0.88 ERA since joining the Dodgers at the July trade deadline. He leads the majors with a 2.17 ERA.
“It’s amazing to see greatness,” Bates said. “You really appreciate the best when you see it every day.”
The Dodgers finished 2 1/2 games behind the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants.
In a major blow, San Diego starter Blake Snell left after 11 pitches with a left adder injury. The Padres used seven pitchers in an emergency bullpen game.
“It’s something he’s dealt with in the past,” said Padres manager Jayce Tingler. “It doesn’t usually come until the sixth or seventh inning. For whatever reason, it tightened up on him early today. He says he is doing better now. He is feeling a little better than before.”
Corey Seeger and Bates hit single homers, and Justin Turner exploded three runs in the seventh to back shaver (14-4).
Seeger took two outs in the fourth off Denelson Lammett (2-4). Bates followed with a left shot from Pierce Johnson in fifth place.
Turner’s homer off Emilio Pagan came with two outs in the seventh. Max Muncie adds a run on his RBI double in the right field corner.
The Padres didn’t come close to getting hit until Hosmer’s double. He had four ground balls in 7 1/3 innings. Mostly, they pop up or hit out.
Padres reliever Austin Adams hit three batters in the eighth, giving him 23 hits this season to tie the live-ball era mark set by Detroit’s Howard Ehmke in 1922.
“It’s a slider. It’s not meant to kill anybody,” said Padres catcher Austin Nola. “It’s one of those sliders that has so much spin on it that if it doesn’t hold the seam, sometimes it’s going to back up and hit people.”
Adams hit Bates with loaded bases to bring on Will Smith, who went ahead with the innings. Munsi’s sacrificial fly made it 8-0. Adams then nearly hit Tree Turner, who went down in a heap, a long swell from the crowd. He drove Tree Turner to load the base again before Justin Turner took off to end the innings.
Scherzer was helped by solid defense from his outfielders, who took catches under challenging dueling conditions of a piercing sun and cloudless skies.
“That sun was tough today,” said right fielder Bates.
In the sixth, catcher Smith chased down a popup in the wrong field by Nola and made the catch near the on-deck circle, barely stepping off a stray bat.
Scherzer has had two career no-hitters – both in 2015. He completed 8 2/3 perfect innings in the first one, before Pirates batsman Jose Tabata appeared to be slammed into a pitch, but was awarded first base nonetheless.
Sandy Koufax was the only Dodgers pitcher to throw a perfect game against the Chicago Cubs on September 9, 1965.
Dodgers close Kenny Jenson was placed on the paternity list hours after his wife gave birth to a baby girl. Johnson said on Twitter that Ke’jia Kejia Johnson arrived Sunday morning weighing in at 7 pounds, 14 ounces. He described her as “beyond beautiful”. Jensen made his 11th straight defense on Saturday night, scoring 32 runs in total. Jensen is expected to be back with the team on Tuesday.
Dodgers: INF-OF Chris Taylor was out for the second day in a row with a neck injury that hampered his ability to swing and run. He is showing “slight improvement” according to manager Dave Roberts. The team is proceeding on the injury list hoping for his condition to improve.
Padres: RHP Yu Darvish (8-9, 3.95 ERA) starts Monday in San Francisco.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (9-7, 3.39) activates from IL on Monday to face Arizona in their first start since July 3 in Washington. He has passed out with swelling of the left arm.
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