LOS ANGELES (AP) — Freddie Freeman's locker was flanked by 8-foot-high pillars of blue balloons. A hefty box of cookies and a birthday cake sat nearby, gifts from the Dodgers' kitchen staff for the slugger with a sweet tooth.
“I'm a big snickerdoodle guy,” the seven-time All-Star said with a grin.
From the clubhouse gifts to the crowd's songs and dances, Freeman got plenty of love at Dodger Stadium on his 34th birthday. He reciprocated with a prolific performance in another win.
Freeman homered, doubled and had four hits, Will Smith hit a three-run homer and Los Angeles trimmed its magic number for clinching the NL West to five with an 11-2 victory over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night.
Freeman was outstanding on his jersey giveaway night at Dodger Stadium, scoring a season-high four runs in front of thousands wearing his white No. 5 shirt — including 30 friends and family members. The crowd sang “Happy Birthday to You” in the second inning, and fans got up in the late innings to do The Freddie — the players' celebratory dance that has caught on with LA fans and even inspired a song.
“We've been having fun as a group this year, and I think the fans noticed, and they've been taking to it,” Freeman said. “It was just fun. It was a good birthday.”
Freeman singled and scored in the first, hit a two-run homer in the third, singled and scored again in the fourth and got his franchise-record 55th double in the eighth, completing his sixth four-hit game of the season.
Freeman now has four homers, 12 RBIs and 12 runs scored in the 14 major league games he has played on his birthday.
“There's nothing that guy can't do, and what better way to celebrate his birthday?” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Lance Lynn (11-11) pitched seven sturdy innings of five-hit ball when the Dodgers needed it most. Despite giving up his major league-leading 41st homer, the 36-year-old LA newcomer shook off back-to-back poor starts and threw 111 largely effective pitches when Los Angeles had an overly taxed bullpen.
Fernando Tatís Jr. homered for the Padres, who have lost four of six.
Michael Wacha (11-4) took his second consecutive loss after going 6-0 in his previous eight starts for San Diego, yielding seven runs on seven hits and three walks while getting through just four innings.
“The line that he put together tonight, we're not used to seeing that,” manager Bob Melvin said of Wacha. “It happens. We're getting late in the season, and he's put together a lot of starts.”
Freeman drove a first-pitch sinker from Wacha to center in the third for his 26th homer.
San Diego scored on Trent Grisham's bases-loaded bunt in the fourth, but Lynn escaped the jam.
Freeman got his second single in the fourth, and Smith brought him home with his 18th homer.
Tatís hit a two-out shot in the fifth for his 24th homer of the season.
Pinch-hitter Chris Taylor and James Outman drove in runs in the seventh for Los Angeles.
J.D. Martinez drove in Mookie Betts and Freeman in the eighth. Freeman has scored a career-high 121 runs this season, passing Betts with 120.
Kyle Hurt made an impressive major league debut with two perfect innings of relief for the Dodgers, who promoted the hard-throwing San Diego County native and USC product before the game. Hurt retired Tatís, Juan Soto and Manny Machado in order on nine pitches in the eighth before striking out the side in the ninth, showing a 98 mph fastball.
Hurt didn't get to Dodger Stadium until 25 minutes before first pitch, thanks to a late-night callup, a long flight and LA traffic. His girlfriend, parents and plenty of friends made it to Chavez Ravine to see his 24-pitch gem.
“Every single guy in the bullpen that talked to me during the game, they just said, ‘Be yourself, don’t change a thing,'” Hurt said. "And that's what I did. ... I've been talking with my buddies for a long time about this, and my family. It's just so cool to be a part of it.”
Padres: Yu Darvish has been shut down for the season due to a stress reaction in his right elbow. The 37-year-old hasn’t pitched since Aug. 25 due to persistent elbow pain. He will rest for six weeks before determining whether surgery is needed.
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw will start Saturday in Seattle after coming out of a 30-pitch bullpen session feeling good. The Dodgers pushed back his scheduled outing several days after a decline in his velocity in his past two starts. ... LA reliever Daniel Hudson also threw 30 pitches off the slope of the mound in the next step of his comeback from a sprained knee ligament.
Blake Snell (13-9, 2.52 ERA) takes the mound for San Diego in the series finale against Ryan Pepiot (2-0, 0.86), who has been stellar in his only two previous starts this season for the Dodgers.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB