PITTSBURGH (AP) — The San Diego Padres needed a boost with a showdown against the Los Angeles Dodgers looming.
Manny Machado and Eric Hosmer didn’t wait to provide one.
Machado hit his third home run of the season during a four-run first and Hosmer added a two-run single in the second as the Padres jumped on the Pittsburgh Pirates early in an 8-3 win on Thursday.
The early outburst against Mitch Keller (1-2) helped San Diego earn a split of the four-game series against the Pirates and finish 5-2 during an eastern swing through Texas and PNC Park.
“We felt like a day like this was coming,” said Hosmer, one of four Padres with two hits as San Diego bounced back from consecutive losses to the rebuilding Pirates.
The victory set the stage for San Diego’s first meeting of the season with the reigning World Series champions, who visit Petco Park for a three-game series starting Friday.
The two met in the NL Division Series last fall, a 3-0 sweep by Los Angeles on its way to the franchise’s first championship in 32 years. Nearly every move San Diego made during the offseason was designed to close the gap on the Dodgers in the NL West. This weekend offers a glimpse of how much progress the Padres have made.
“I think it’s a little different heading in,” Hosmer said. “Obviously having a little bit of history with them in the postseason last year, maybe that’ll spice things up a little bit.”
Chris Paddack (1-1) labored at times but managed to get through five innings and give San Diego’s overtaxed bullpen some semblance of a normal workload after being forced to cover a combined 11 innings in losses Tuesday and Wednesday. Craig Stammen worked three innings to pick up just the sixth save of his 12-year big league career and first since 2019.
“We were hoping to…