Mookie Betts, Chris Taylor

Mookie Betts, right, celebrates his two-run home run with Chris Taylor during the second inning against the Padres on Thursday. Betts then hit home runs in his next two at-bats. Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

 

LOS ANGELES — The sequence repeated itself over … and over … and over again.

The crack of a bat and thud of a ball, long home runs crashing into empty seats. The flash of lights and roar of a fake crowd, artificial cheers becoming the soundtrack to a storybook night at Chavez Ravine.

At the center of it all was Mookie Betts, who wrote his name into MLB’s history books with his sixth career three-home-run game. At 27, Dodgers outfielder matched an all-time mark previously shared by only Sammy Sosa and Johnny Mize.

That pair played 33 combined seasons in their big-league careers. Betts’ history-making masterpiece, which helped the Dodgers to an 11-2 victory over the San Diego Padres, came in only his seventh MLB campaign.

“I just learned that today,” Betts said of his three-home-run record. “(Is it) shocking? No. But I think it’s just pretty cool.”

Hitting leadoff for the first time since Aug. 2, the spot in the order Betts has said he’s most comfortable, the former American League MVP –µ while with the Red Sox – didn’t get a chance to swing his first at-bat Thursday after Padres starter Chris Paddack drilled him in the side with a second-pitch fastball.

On his next three trips to the plate, however, Betts left the park in back-to-back-to-back at-bats.

In the second inning, he drove an outside Paddack fastball the other way, sending a two-run shot out to right-center field. In the fourth, he jumped on a high heater from reliever Luis Perdomo that cleared the fence in left-center.

And when an overturned double-play extended the Dodgers’ threat in the fifth, Betts clobbered a two-run blast that landed among a collection of cardboard fans in the first few rows of the left-field seats.

“I put in so much work, I work a lot,” Betts said. “To see some success is definitely a sigh of relief. But I have a lot more work to do. It’s a long season. We want to win a World Series. I’m working just to do that.”

Betts wasn’t the only Dodger to go deep Thursday.

Corey Seager, returning from a five-day absence because of a back injury, brought Betts home in the first inning with a long ball to right. AJ Pollock crushed a solo shot to left later in the opening inning, temporarily taking the team lead with his fifth of the season.

And an at-bat before Betts’ dinger in the fourth, Austin Barnes belted a two-run homer to left, combining with Betts for the first back-to-back home runs from Dodger hitters this season.

As Betts returned to the dugout following that fourth-inning frenzy, a voice on the Dodgers bench was heard asking, “Who’s next?”

An inning later, it turned out to be Betts again.

Initially, it looked like Betts wouldn’t get to hit in the fifth after Barnes appeared to roll into an inning-ending double-play. The Dodgers’ successfully challenged the call, however, with the video review revealing second baseman Jurickson Profar didn’t step on the bag while making the turn.

After getting ahead three-and-one in the ensuing two-out at-bat, Betts launched a center-cut splitter high into the night sky, completing his first three-homer outing since July 26 of last season, when he tripled up the New York Yankees at Fenway Park.

According to STATS Inc, it was also Betts’ third time hitting three home runs in the first five innings of a game, a feat unmatched in baseball history.

“(He has) a lot more power than I expected,” Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said. “You know that there’s the bat-to-ball. You know the defense, the arm strength, the accuracy, the foot speed … But the way that he can leverage a baseball really impresses me.”

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