By Jon Weisman
Alex Wood struck gold as he struck out almost every San Diego Padre he faced tonight.
In only six innings, the 25-year-old set a career high with 13 strikeouts, then left the game with two runners on and the Dodgers clinging to a 2-1 lead. San Diego would then tie the game in the bottom of the seventh, and for the second night in a row, the outcome was left to the teams’ bullpens.
Wood struck out the side in the fifth inning to give him 11 whiffs, then fanned pitcher Cesar Vargas to start the sixth inning for his 12th. He had only faced 18 batters to that point.
But Wood’s only walk of the night — just his fourth in four starts this month — cost him. It came on a 3-2 pitch to Jon Jay, and was followed on the next pitch by a Wil Myers single to left-center that sent Jay to third base. Matt Kemp then hit a 1-2 fastball to right field far enough for a sacrifice fly that scored Jay with the game’s first run.
Myers was the only Padre that didn’t strike out against Wood. Bouncing back by whiffing Melvin Upton Jr., Wood tallied the most strikeouts by a Dodger not named Clayton Kershaw since Zack Greinke on July 30, 2014.
Alex Wood is the first Dodgers pitcher since 1913 (& probably before) with 13 strikeouts in 6 or fewer innings https://t.co/yNogCllvrR
— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) May 22, 2016
Trayce Thompson’s seventh homer of the season, following Adrian Gonzalez’s second single of the night in his return to the starting lineup, put Wood and the Dodgers ahead in the top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the inning, Wood left the game with the lead — but also frustration.
He sheared Derek Norris’ bat in half, but the Padres catcher managed to fist the ball down the left-field line for a double. Then a soft liner by Brett Wallace landed just in front of a diving Thompson to put runners at the corners with nobody out.
Louis Coleman got Yangervis Solarte to pop out, but Adam Liberatore allowed another sacrifice fly, this by pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista, that tied the game.
Nevertheless, over his past five starts, Wood can boast 43 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings, an 8.6 strikeout-walk ratio and a 2.67 ERA.
Update: The game ended in the 11th inning when reliever Chin-hui Tsao gave up a leadoff single and, two outs later, walked three batters in a row on 14 pitches, for a 3-2 Dodger loss.