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Dodgers’ historic regular season topped by Padres’ historic NLDS upset

SAN DIEGO — “Beat L.A.!” generations of Padres fans have chanted – implored.

They finally did.

The Dodgers spent seven months having superlatives thrown at them. They will have to wear another superlative far longer – the most disappointing team ever.

The San Diego Padres sent the Dodgers and their 111-win season packing on Saturday night, rallying for five runs in the seventh inning to beat the Dodgers, 5-3, in Game 4 of their National League Division Series.

The 22-win difference in their regular-season records is the largest in a postseason upset since the 93-win Chicago White Sox defeated the 116-win Chicago Cubs in the 1906 World Series.

The Dodgers have won 100 games or more in four of the past five full seasons, matching or setting a franchise record in three of those seasons. None of those ended with a World Series title.

The Padres lost 23 of their last 28 regular-season games against the Dodgers, were outscored 109-47 in this year’s 19 regular-season meetings and were swept by the Dodgers in their only previous postseason meeting (the 2020 NLDS). But they will head to the NL Championship Series for the first time since 1998 to face their fellow wild-card upstarts, the Philadelphia Phillies.

Gaslamp Quarter might never be the same.

Facing elimination, the Dodgers built a 3-0 lead in Game 4 only to have it all dissolve in the seventh inning, their bullpen collapsing on them – making moot questions about which of the closer-less group would handle the ninth inning.

Starter Tyler Anderson was outstanding in just the second postseason start of his career, giving the Dodgers five scoreless innings. But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts let him go through the Padres’ order just twice (plus one batter) and went to the bullpen in the sixth inning.

Freddie Freeman’s two-run double in the third inning had ended an 0-for-20 stretch with runners in scoring position for MLB’s most productive lineup this season – the third-longest in the Dodgers’ postseason history, according to Elias Sports.

Chris Martin stranded two runners in the sixth and the Dodgers added a run in the seventh, getting the least (or nearly so) out of a bases-loaded, no-out situation cobbled together from a walk, wild pitch, bunt single and hit batter.

Roberts gave the seventh inning to Tommy Kahnle and the unraveling began.

Kahnle didn’t retire any of the three batters he faced, walking one, giving up a clean single to Trent Grisham and an RBI single on a ground ball off the glove of a diving Freeman.

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Yency Almonte replaced him and gave up an RBI double to Ha-Seong Kim and an RBI single to Juan Soto that tied the game.

Almonte struck out Manny Machado and got Brandon Drury to pop out. But Roberts pulled Almonte after he threw one ball to Jake Cronenworth, bringing lefty reliever Alex Vesia in to face the left-handed Cronenworth. Cronenworth ripped a two-run single to complete the collapse.

Intermittent rain showers that delayed the start of the game by 31 minutes returned for the final two innings, mingling with the tears of Dodgers fans, as the Padres’ bullpen resumed its mastery of the Dodgers. In 16 innings against Padres relievers in this series, the Dodgers managed just one run (on Will Smith’s sacrifice fly in the seventh inning of Game 4) and went 6 for 52.

A Dodgers’ offense that led the majors in nearly every category – including hitting with runners in scoring position – during the regular season shrank in the NLDS, managing just 12 runs in the four games. It all ended with the top of the Dodgers’ order that fueled their historic regular season – Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freeman – going down in order, each struck out by Josh Hader.

More to come on this story.

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