Villanueva homers twice to power Padres past Dodgers 7-5
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Christian Villanueva always dreamed of being the best at whatever he does as a baseball player. If he wants to become known as one of the game's best power hitters, he's off to a good start.
Villanueva homered twice for his 13th and 14th home runs and Jose Pirela hit the go-ahead single in the seventh inning, leading the San Diego Padres to a 7-5 comeback victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Saturday night.
Villanueva leads big league rookies in home runs. And although it's just May, he has made history with the most homers in his rookie season than any other Mexican-born player.
"It's really special," Villanueva said through a translator. "To represent my entire country and my family and my friends and have them look at me as a leader and an example is really awesome, especially knowing I'm the rookie with the record for home runs. Even for my son, I'll have things to tell him and stories to tell."
It marked the second multi-homer game of Villanueva's career. He hit three home runs against Colorado on April 3 at Petco Park.
He can find his name on the home run leaders list, not too far down from the likes of Mike Trout, Mookie Betts and Bryce Harper.
"To see my name up and there and be on the board with those big names, it's pretty cool and awesome," Villanueva said. "Especially after all the time it took me to get here, be under the radar and know the work I put in is really special."
Villanueva is 26. He went through a hitting slump already this season, but he responded. He had a double-error Saturday, but was able to overcome that, too.
Freddy Galvis and A.J. Ellis also homered for the Padres, who won for the second time in their last five games.
Craig Stammen (2-0) got five outs in relief for the victory. After walking Justin Turner with two outs to bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth, Brand Hand struck out Matt Kemp looking to seal the win with his 16th save.
Tyler Webb relieved Jordan Lyles with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth. Webb struck out Logan Forsythe to avoid any damage. Lyles had walked three batters in the inning.
Pirela, who had two hits, hit the go-ahead single off reliever Scott Alexander in the seventh after the Padres trailed 4-2 and then 5-3 after five innings.
Turner and Chris Taylor homered for the Dodgers, who have hit 13 home runs in their last nine games. Turner, who played in his 11th game this season after breaking his wrist in spring training, homered for the first time this season.
Daniel Hudson (1-1) took the loss.
Taylor hit a leadoff home run in the first, his third leadoff home run of the season and sixth of his career.
Galvis hit a first-pitch, two-run homer off Dodgers starter Alex Wood in the second inning for his second home run of the season that gave San Diego a 2-1 lead.
Los Angeles went ahead 4-2 with a three-run fourth inning, including Turner's homer to left off starter Jordan Lyles that tied the game at 2. Logan Forsythe added an RBI single and Joc Pederson had a run-scoring groundout.
Ellis, a longtime Dodgers catcher, hit his first home run of the season for the Padres to pull San Diego within one run at 4-3.
"I'm happy for him," Villanueva said of Ellis. "He's like the dad of the team. We're a young team, so to have him as an example and see what he's doing at his age (37) with as many young players we have is great. We have to take advantage of that and we do. He's always helping and giving advice."
Los Angeles made it a two-run game again in the bottom of the inning with a bases-loaded walk by Clay Bellinger.
Villanueva hit a tying two-run homer to center in the sixth to chase Wood. He added a solo shot in the eighth for insurance, giving the Padres a 7-5 lead.
Wood gave up five runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings and struck out seven.
"There just wasn't a whole lot of in between," Wood said. "It was either really good pitches or really bad pitches."
Lyles scattered seven hits and allowed five runs. He walked four and struck out four.
BACK IN FAMILIAR TERRITORY
Ellis was back in Los Angeles, where he and Clayton Kershaw formed a formidable pitcher-catcher relationship. Ellis isn't a power hitter, but he hit one out. It wasn't necessarily sweeter because it was against his former team.
"It feels good to hit a home run anywhere, no matter what uniform you're in," Ellis said. "Hitting a home run in the big leagues is a special feeling. The most important thing was it got us back a little closer in the game. Helped change a little momentum."
Padres: No updates.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) threw a four-inning simulated game and could be back in the rotation next week ... LHP Rich Hill (blister on left middle finger) threw a two-inning simulated game with a protective covering on his finger. He's expected to next throw a bullpen and then another simulated game.
Padres: LHP Matt Strahm (0-2, 4.91) will make his first start of the season. The Padres are making this a bullpen game and decided on Strahm after Saturday night's game.
Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler (2-1, 2.38), has been fantastic in six starts. His last outing against the Padres, he threw six hitless innings as four Dodgers had the organization's first combined no-hitter.