Hernández: Dodgers' late, great comeback over the Padres was their most incredible win this year

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Los Angeles, CA - September 29: Dodgers' Corey Seager rounds the bases as he celebrates his game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021. Dodgers won 11-9. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers' Corey Seager rounds the bases as he celebrates his go-ahead two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

How many lies will be told about Wednesday night?

How many people who were driving home will claim they were still in the stands for the Dodgers’ four-homer eighth inning that reversed a three-run deficit and delivered the most incredible of the team’s 102 victories this season?

“That was a crazy inning,” outfielder Cody Bellinger said, “maybe the craziest I’ve ever been a part of.”

So crazy, so unbelievable, that a significant percentage of the crowd had deserted Dodger Stadium long before Corey Seager cleared the right-field wall with the two-run shot that marked the difference in an 11-9 win over the San Diego Padres.

The furious comeback was reminiscent of another high-scoring September game between the same teams 15 years ago. Dave Roberts batted leadoff for the Padres in that game. He was hitless in six at-bats with four strikeouts.

“Don’t go there, Dylan,” Roberts, now the Dodgers manager, said with a smile when reminded about that game. “Don’t go there, Dylan.”

That was the 4+1 Game, in which the Dodgers erased a four-run deficit with four consecutive homers in the ninth inning and won 11-10 after a two-run blast by Nomar Garciaparra in the 10th.

Roberts closed his eyes and shook his head in mock disgust.

“Since you brought it up, it certainly reminded me of that night,” Roberts said. “To be in this dugout, a much better feeling than being in the visiting dugout.”

The 4+1 Game remains a critical part of modern Dodgers mythology, largely because of how the season ended: The team reached the postseason for only the second time in 10 years.

Whether the homers Wednesday night by Max Muncy, A.J. Pollock, Bellinger and Seager will be held in the same regard will be determined by how the following days and weeks unfold.

With four games to play, the Dodgers are two games behind the San Francisco Giants in the National League West.

“We’re still fighting to accomplish a goal,” Seager said. “We’re still fighting for that, and showing that grit and that drive and that will to come back and win that game is huge for us."

Failure to catch the Giants will have serious consequences. Unless they win their ninth consecutive division title, the Dodgers will start the defense of their World Series championship in the single-game, single-elimination wild-card round against the hottest team in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals.

That seemed a foregone conclusion before the eighth inning. With the Giants already having completed a 1-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers were on the verge of dropping to three games back.

The Dodgers’ likely starter in a wild-card game, Max Scherzer, was blitzed for six runs (five earned) and 11 hits in 5 1/3 innings. This was the second consecutive shaky start for the previously unhittable Scherzer; he gave up five runs in five innings against the Colorado Rockies six days earlier.

Against the Padres, Scherzer was figuratively knocked out of the game by a sixth-inning play that literally knocked out center fielder Gavin Lux.

Lux’s failed pursuit of a run-scoring triple by Wil Myers looked like a metaphor for the Dodgers’ division chase: They started out at full speed, only to run into a wall and wind up bruised and limping.

A three-run seventh inning by the Padres put the Dodgers behind, 9-5.

A homer by Mookie Betts in the bottom of the seventh closed the deficit to 9-6. Betts’ teammates unloaded on Padres reliever Emilio Pagan in the eighth.

Muncy, home run, 9-7.

Pollock, home run, 9-8.

Dodgers second baseman Gavin Lux runs into the outfield wall after missing a catch.
The Dodgers' Gavin Lux runs into the outfield wall in pursuit of a ball during a game against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers drew even through the unlikeliest of heroes. Bellinger was batting .158. He entered the game only as an injury replacement for Lux.

Bellinger, home run, 9-9.

Justin Turner doubled to left field, prompting Padres manager Jayce Tingler to remove Pagan and insert Nabil Crismatt. The change didn’t have its desired effect.

Seager, home run, 11-9.

Half of the seats were empty, but as Seager sprinted around the bases, the stadium sounded and shook as if the place were packed. It might as well have been. With each retelling of this story, with each win the Dodgers pick up in October, the stands will become less empty than they actually were.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.