SAN DIEGO -- The first rhythmic notes of "Beat L.A." echoed through an empty Petco Park at 6:12 p.m. Monday. Joc Pederson's first-pitch homer clanged off the seats in left-center moments later, a reminder that the road through the Los Angeles Dodgers to a return to the postseason would not be easy.
Chris Paddack wasn't the only one who answered.
Trent Grisham, Wil Myers and Fernando Tatis Jr. backed Paddack's first quality start against the Dodgers with solo homers off Walker Buehler and San Diego's bullpen outdueled Los Angeles' in a 5-4 victory to renew the most important rivalry on the Padres' schedule.
The drama dragged through the ninth when slumping closer Kirby Yates took the baton from Emilio Pagan and Drew Pomerenz and gave up a leadoff homer to reigning NL MVP Cody Bellinger before striking out the next three hitters to record his first save of the season. The lead Yates was protecting was built by Jake Cronenworth adding to a stellar defensive day with a run-scoring single in the sixth off the Dodgers' bullpen and Austin Hedges padding the lead with his first hit of the season in yet another game that teased that the Padres just might be moving closer to relevance in the NL West than they've been in a decade.
"What y'all saw tonight was playoff baseball," Paddack said after tossing his first quality start in four tries at the Dodgers. "It was back and forth, the energy level without the fans was tremendous. I'm excited to get the first one under our belt. That was a dogfight; we got the bone in Game 1."
The canyon to bridge, to be sure, is vast.
Over the last eight years, the Padres are 57-114 against the Dodgers for a .328 winning percentage.
They last won a series in 2010, 10-8, which also happens to be the last time they finished a season with a winning record.
You'd still have to go back a couple more years to their last playoff squad. Success over the Dodgers in 2006, when they won 13 of 18 meetings, was also tantamount to winning their last NL West crown.
The expectation this year is the road to October will go through L.A., one way or another. Whether the Padres are in the driver's seat or looking to make up ground when they finally move into AL West action in mid-August could teeter on how they navigate the seven games against the Dodgers over a harrowing 10-day stretch.