LOS ANGELES — Jose De Leon was feeling calm shortly before his major league debut until he spotted his brother near the bullpen railing. He reached over and they hugged as De Leon whispered “I did it,” leaving Juan near tears.
In another section of Dodger Stadium, De Leon’s parents were on the edge of their seats, having hurriedly traveled from Puerto Rico on short notice to watch their 20-year-old son’s debut in the midst of a pennant race.
De Leon didn’t disappoint, striking out nine in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 7-4 victory over the San Diego Padres on Sunday.
“There’s no word to describe that,” he said. “It was amazing to be here for the first time.”
Taking the mound to start the game, De Leon reached down and scribbled ‘MPM’ in the dirt — a reference to Mommy, Papi and his brother’s nickname, Maje. In the broadcast booth, Vin Scully was telling the television audience about De Leon, who was thrilled to get called up before Scully retires at season’s end.
“For a young kid to make his debut in this environment says a lot about Jose,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He kept his composure.”
Pinch-hitter Yasmani Grandal drove in three runs, including a go-ahead single in the fifth inning, to help the NL West leaders take two of three from the last-place Padres. The Dodgers increased their lead to three games over the Giants, who lost to the Cubs 3-2 in 13 innings.
De Leon became the 15th different starting pitcher — and seventh in seven days — used by Los Angeles this season. The 24-year-old right-hander, recalled a day earlier from Triple-A Oklahoma City, recorded the second-most strikeouts by a Dodgers pitcher in his major league debut.
“He’s going to be good for a long time,” said Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes, who caught De Leon nine times in the minors. “I didn’t notice any difference from down there to here. His composure was the same, his tempo was the same.”
After reaching on a single in the fifth, Wil Myers raved about De Leon.
“I told Adrian Gonzalez this kid has got great stuff and he’s going to be really good,” Myers said. “I was impressed with his fastball, it’s got real life on it and he’s got a good changeup.”
De Leon (1-0) gave up four runs and six hits in six innings and didn’t issue a walk. He struck out the side in the sixth to finish with a flourish.
“That was the inning I executed all my pitches,” he said, “so I was excited.”
Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth to earn his 42nd save in 48 chances.
Kevin Quackenbush (7-5) took the loss in relief, giving up one run and two hits. He walked one.
Yasiel Puig hit a three-run homer in the third that put the Dodgers ahead 3-2 in his second start since being recalled last week after a month-long demotion to the minors.
Grandal hit a two-run homer with two outs in the seventh, scoring Puig, who walked, and extending the Dodgers’ lead to 7-4.
Chase Utley’s RBI single tied the game 4-all in the fifth. Grandal made it 5-4 on an RBI single.
Yangervis Solarte hit a two-run homer in the third and the Padres scored the tying and go-ahead runs in the fifth.
San Diego starter Christian Friedrich allowed four runs and six hits in 4 1/3 innings of his first start since Aug. 23. He struck out four and walked three. The left-hander had pitched in relief last week after losing eight straight as a starter.
DE LEON’S Ks
De Leon fell one strikeout short of the most by a Dodgers pitcher in their big-league debut. Kazuhisa Ishii in April 2002 against Colorado and Pedro Astacio in July 1992 against Philadelphia had 10 each. De Leon’s nine strikeouts tied for the third most by a major league pitcher making his debut since 1913 who didn’t issue a walk.
IT’S A WRAP
The Dodgers clinched the season series with the Padres for the sixth straight time. They lead 10-6 with three games left and are 6-4 in Los Angeles.
Padres: INF Alexei Ramirez was released Sunday after being told he wasn’t going to be the team’s everyday shortstop anymore. The 34-year-old veteran hit .240 with five homers and 41 RBIs in 128 games.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw will start Friday at Miami after spending more than two months on the disabled list with a herniated disk. He won’t have a specific pitch count, but will be monitored. … LHP Brett Anderson was bothered by a blister in a rehab outing at Class A Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday and will be reassessed.
Padres: RHP Edwin Jackson (3-5, 6.26 ERA) opens a three-game home series against Boston. He’s coming off a loss in his last start at Atlanta, where he gave up five runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings and walked three in a 7-3 defeat.
Dodgers: RHP Kenta Maeda (13-8, 3.38) is 1-1 with a 3.68 ERA in four starts against Arizona this season. He has held the D’backs to a .259 average and struck out 20 while walking three.