Home runs were the name of the game for the Dodgers on Tuesday night, including two from Philadelphia hero Chase Utley in beating the Phillies 15-5 in the series opener at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
The win pulled the Dodgers into a tie with the Giants in the National League West for the moment. Los Angeles will either lead or trail the division by a half-game pending the result between the Pirates and Giants in San Francisco on Tuesday night.
Utley was the man of the hour on Tuesday night, in his first game back in Philadelphia after 12 years with the Phillies. He received a long standing ovation of nearly a minute and a half before his first plate appearance, but the signature moment came in the fifth inning.
Utley took Vince Velasquez deep for a solo home run, widening the Dodgers’ lead to 3-1, but what was key was what came afterward.
From a fan base in a city widely known for booing Santa Claus and cheering a stretcher-ridden Michael Irvin, and more specifically booing Mike Schmidt, the best player to ever play for the Phillies franchise, the denizens at Citizens Bank Park not only gave Utley another standing ovation after his home run, but also willed a curtain call out of him.
Not sure I've ever seen a visiting player get a standing O & curtain call for hitting a HR in Philadelphia. But Chase Utley just got both.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) August 17, 2016
Folks in the press box remember standing ovations for Ripken, Dawson, Daulton and Thome homers. But not a curtain call.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) August 17, 2016
But he wasn’t done!
Utley started a seventh-inning rally with a walk, then ended it with a grand slam, his second home run of the night earning Utley yet another standing ovation and his second curtain call of the night.
Again, he is a visiting player.
Utley on the season is hitting .282/.351/.431 on the road compared to .223/.305/.341 at home. In National League East parks, his old stomping grounds, Utley is 14-for-38 (.368) with five home runs, two doubles and 17 RBI in nine games.
The Dodgers have had 10 different players drive in four or more runs in a game in 2016. Eight players have done it once, and Justin Turner has two such games. Utley has done it four times this season.
Utley wasn’t alone in the offensive barrage.
Before Utley’s first home run, Howie Kendrick gave the Dodgers a lead with a two-run shot to dead center field. It was his second home run in eight days against Velasquez, and extended his hitting streak to six games.
Five of those games have been multi-hit games for Kendrick, who also tripled and was 4-for-5 on the night. He is 14-for-25 (.560) during his streak, and since July 1 is hitting a robust .352/.414/.577 with 21 extra-base hits in 37 games.
Kendrick now has eight home runs, on a team that already has seven players with 10 or more home runs, including Utley who joined the club on Tuesday. The Dodgers franchise record for most players with 10 home runs in a season is nine, set in 2004.
Yasmani Grandal added a two-run shot in the sixth, also his second home run against Velasquez in eight days. Grandal was 3-for-4 with a walk on the night.
Those three home runs spoiled a 10-strikeout night for Velasquez, who also allowed three home runs last Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers scored 14 runs in 10⅓ innings against the right-hander, who allowed 13 runs and three home runs in 41 innings over his previous seven starts.
The Dodgers matched a season high with 15 runs in the win.
All that offense was much appreciated by Kenta Maeda, who struck out nine in his six innings for his 12th win of the year, and his fifth straight start won by the Dodgers.
Maeda allowed just three hits, two of them leaving the park with solo home runs by Cameron Rupp and Cesar Hernandez.
Maeda lasted six innings for the 13th time in his 24 starts. The Dodgers are 9-4 in those starts, and 6-5 in his other, shorter outings in 2016.
Corey Seager contributed to the Dodgers’ eight-run inning, their largest output in any inning this season, with a double, his 33rd of the season, one off the National League lead.
He’s on pace for 45 doubles on the season, something done only four times in Dodgers franchise history.
Elvis Araujo had a rough seventh inning, loading the bases then completely losing the strike zone. He hit Adrian Gonzalez then walked Grandal and Joc Pederson to force in three more runs.
The bases loaded hit by pitch of Gonzalez was the second by the Dodgers in 2016, joining Scott Van Slyke, who was plunked by Madison Bumgarner to force in a run in San Francisco on April 9.
Rob Segedin didn’t even start on Tuesday, but he hit a bases-loaded single as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning and a run-scoring ground out in the ninth. Segedin has eight RBI in 23 major league plate appearances.
Scott Kazmir gets the ball on Wednesday night, in the middle game of the series, facing right-hander Jake Thompson, the latter making his third major league start.
Home runs: Howie Kendrick (8), Chase Utley 2 (10), Yasmani Grandal (19); Cameron Rupp (14), Cesar Hernandez (3), Ryan Howard (18)
WP - Kenta Maeda (12-7): 6 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts
LP - Vince Velasquez (8-5): 5⅔ IP, 7 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts