Dodgers break it open late to complete two-game sweep over Giants
During a San Francisco Giants pitching change in the seventh inning Wednesday night, the scoreboard at Dodger Stadium played a familiar highlight reel.
It was clips from the Dodgers defeat of the Giants in the National League Division Series last year, a memorable five-game battle that came down to the final inning of the final game.
Wednesday night’s contest between the NL West rivals wasn’t nearly as close.
Moments after the game resumed, the Dodgers exploded for four runs to pull away from the Giants in a 9-1 win in front of a raucous 52,203 at Dodger Stadium, completing a two-game sweep in the first series between the team’s this season.
Early on, it looked like the Dodgers and Giants were headed for another tight finish.
Tony Gonsolin pitched five strong innings, giving up just one run while striking out five. The Dodgers battled through a slow start at the plate, going hitless for three innings against Alex Wood before scoring twice in the fourth to take a one-run lead.
After that, however, the Dodgers (16-7) pulled away.
Their bullpen was stout, blanking the Giants over the final four innings. Their lineup, meanwhile, came to life, doubling the lead in the sixth on a Mookie Betts home run before blowing the game open in the seventh.
The frame started with a line drive single from Max Muncy, who slapped his hands in relief when the ball dropped down in front of right fielder Luis González to snap a recent 0-for-16 skid at the plate.
After Justin Turner flied out, the Giants (14-10) made a pitching change, summoning left-hander Sam Long while the NLDS highlights flashed in the outfield.
The Dodgers immediately put Long under siege.
Cody Bellinger fouled off a couple two-strike changeups before lacing a double to right center field. Chris Taylor got ahead 3-and-0 before being issued an intentional walk.
That brought Gavin Lux to the plate with one out. He swung at a first pitch changeup in the zone, hitting a slow chopper to the right side. First baseman Wilmer Flores fielded the ball but had nowhere to go, as Muncy came racing home from third and Lux beat everyone else to the bag at first for an infield single.
Betts hit a sacrifice fly in the next at-bat before Freddie Freeman put an exclamation point on the inning, lining a two-run triple into the right-field corner.
Muncy piled on further with a two-run home run in the eighth, giving him his first home run and two-hit game since April 22.
Betts and Lux also finished with two hits on a night every member of the Dodgers starting lineup reached base.
The win improved the Dodgers’ home record to 10-2 through their first two homestands and moved them into sole possession of first place in the division, one game clear of the San Diego Padres and 2 ½ ahead of the Giants.
Smith moves up, Turner drops down
For a third-straight game Wednesday, Will Smith was the Dodgers cleanup hitter, going one for two with two walks and an RBI single in the fourth inning. Though Smith is only batting .246, he has 13 RBIs and a .762 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, good for third on the team.
“There’s no panic, and he’s very unflappable,” manager Dave Roberts said. “And that’s why, I think for a manager, the more players you can trust, and that are dependable, you feel much better running them out there.”
Smith’s move up in the order coincided with Justin Turner’s drop down. For a second-straight game Wednesday, Turner batted sixth, a spot he hadn’t appeared previously this season and that he’d only sparingly held in recent seasons.
Turner went one for four with a single in his final at-bat, snapping an 0-for-17 skid at the plate. He’s batting just .183 to start the season.
“I wish I had an answer,” Roberts said when asked about Turner’s struggles. “I wouldn’t say he feels he’s close, and I wouldn’t say he’s pressing. I would say he’s frustrated and determined to figure it out.”
Price back with team
David Price was back around the Dodgers on Wednesday after clearing COVID-19 protocols following his positive test last week.
Price said he is traveling with the team to Chicago this week for their series against the Cubs — Wrigley Field is one of two ballparks the 14-year veteran has never been to, along with the Texas Rangers’ new Globe Life Field — then will head to Arizona to start getting built back up. For now, he remains on the injured list.
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