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Rich Hill gets straight A’s in second Dodgers test

Left-hander took a no-hitter into the 6th inning against the Padres

MLB: San Diego Padres at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The more we see of Rich Hill, the more it becomes obvious why the Dodgers traded for him. The left-hander’s latest mound excellence was on display in Saturday night’s 5-1 win over the Padres at Dodger Stadium, keeping the Dodgers two games ahead of San Francisco in the National League West.

Hill took a no-hitter into the sixth inning on Saturday, allowing only three batters total to reach base in his night.

Alexei Ramirez lined a single to center field with two outs in the sixth to end any thoughts of history on Saturday. It was the only hit allowed by Hill, who let out the mother of all expletives on the mound.

"He wanted it,” Vin Scully said on the SportsNet LA television broadcast. “I mean he let out a holler and a tough word to repeat.”

After a leadoff walk in the first inning, Hill retired his next 14 batters faced until another walk in the fifth. None of his three runners allowed got past second base.

The Dodgers waited until 23 days after they acquired Hill to see his first start, in which he pitched six scoreless frames against the Giants. Then they played it carefully in Colorado, and ultimately waited another nine days before start No. 2, his six scoreless innings on Saturday.

Hill is just the fourth pitcher since 1913 to begin his Dodgers career with two straight games of six or more scoreless innings, with teammate Kenta Maeda one of the others to do so.

Hill has a slugging percentage allowed this season of just .250, first among the 148 MLB pitchers with at least 25 at-bats against them, per Inside Edge. Second on that list, by the way, is Clayton Kershaw (.269), who is due back soon after his three scoreless innings on Saturday in a rehab start for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga.

So while the wait might have been frustrating and perhaps at times agonizing, it’s clear that in Hill the Dodgers have an excellent pitcher, one of the very best in the game when he is on the mound.

Hill owns a 1.94 ERA in 16 starts this season, with 101 strikeouts and 30 walks in 88 innings. That will get it done.

The key will be making sure he’s ready to be on the mound in October, and for as many times as needed in between now and then to help ensure that the Dodgers get there.

Saturday was scoreless in the park until the bottom of the fourth, when the Dodgers opened the inning with five consecutive hits. The first three were singles by Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Adrian Gonzalez to produce one run, then Yasmani Grandal launched a 440-foot shot to dead center for a 4-0 lead.

Grandal’s 22nd home run of the year is the most among catchers in baseball, set a new career high, and was his team-best sixth three-run home run this season.

It was also Grandal’s fifth home run this season against his old team, his most against any team in 2016.

Josh Reddick, who was acquired with Hill from the A’s on Aug. 1, had his best game since joining the Dodgers. After struggling mightily for a month, failing to see the sustenance of having his high line-drive rate not produce results, Reddick has seen his fortunes turn this week.

He walked and singled in a run in his final two plate appearances in Colorado on Wednesday, then singled as a pinch hitter on Friday. Reddick singled in his fist two at-bats on Saturday before launching a home run in the seventh to widen the Dodgers’ lead in the sixth inning.

It gave Reddick five consecutive hits and six straight plate appearances reaching base, a streak that was snapped with a ground ball double play in the eighth.

Up next

The Dodgers turn to Jose De Leon on Sunday in his major league debut after an excellent season in Triple-A. San Diego counters with southpaw Christian Friedrich in the series finale.

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Yasmani Grandal (22), Josh Reddick (9)

WP - Rich Hill (11-3): 6 IP, 1 hit, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts

LP - Luis Perdomo (7-8): 6 IP, 9 hits, 5 runs, 5 strikeouts