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Dodgers rally late to beat Indians again

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Another go-ahead eighth-inning home run helped LA to sixth straight win.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Cleveland Indians
Kiké Hernandez celebrates his go-ahead home run in the eighth inning.
David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

This Dodgers team has come to Cleveland and damn near done the impossible. For a second straight night, the club homered in the eighth inning to beat reliever extraordinaire Andrew Miller, on Wednesday dispatching the Indians, 6-4 in the middle game of this three-game series at Progressive Field in Cleveland.

The win was the sixth straight for the Dodgers, matching their season high.

For as great as Kenley Jansen is, at any given time there might by two or three relief pitchers in baseball on his level or better. Miller is one of those pitchers, and before the Dodgers came to town he allowed just one earned run in 2017.

After Miller allowed the go-ahead home run to Cody Bellinger on Tuesday, the left-hander fell victim to Kiké Hernandez on Wednesday, the sixth home run of the season for Hernandez, who has 22 extra-base hits and nine singles this season.

Hernandez is now hitting .268/.359/.679 with 12 extra-base hits in 64 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers in 2017.

The Dodgers’ fourth pinch-hit home run of the season — tied with Washington and San Diego for most in the majors — gave them a 3-2 lead, but they weren’t done.

Corey Seager singled, then Miller walked Justin Turner and Bellinger to load the bases with one out. Yasmani Grandal then hit a room service double play ball to shortstop Francisco Lindor, but instead of the inning ending the Dodgers got a gift because second baseman Erik Gonzalez — starting in place of an Jason Kipnis, who was a late scratch -- was well off the bag when he received the throw.

The replay review gave the Dodgers new life, and another run, giving them a 4-2 cushion. That only expanded when Chris Taylor followed with a two-run single to break the game open.

The Dodgers have tallied five runs against Miller in two games in this series, matching what he allowed in his last 49 games and 56⅔ innings.

It was the first time Miller allowed two home runs in a two-day period since Dinner Navarro and Edwin Encarnacion took him deep for Toronto on Sept. 22, 2015.

Those insurance runs were much needed, because the Indians rallied for two runs of their own in the bottom of the eighth inning thanks to three doubles and a single, cutting the Dodgers’ lead in half.

Rain delayed the first pitch of the game by 50 minutes, but the Dodgers were antsy to get started. A walk by Grandal and a double by Taylor put the Dodgers in business with one out in the second inning, then an dribbling infield single by Joc Pederson brought home the game’s first run.

Then, with runs at a premium with Corey Kluber on the mound, the Dodgers executed a double steal, with Pederson stealing second and Taylor stealing home on the throw, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. It was the second steal of home by the Dodgers this season.

A single by Yasiel Puig but runners on the corners again, and thoughts of another double steal were dancing again when catcher Yan Gomes picked off Pederson at third, after a run down.

Brandon McCarthy made those two runs stand up, as he cruised into the sixth without allowing a run. Two singles and a stolen base changed things in the sixth, and McCarthy was forced to exit with one out in the frame, leaving the tying runs on base.

Only one was cashed in, on a sacrifice fly Michael Brantley to Puig in right, cutting the Dodgers’ lead in half.

McCarthy allowed two or fewer runs for the ninth time in 11 starts this season, but he also struck out none on the night for just the eighth time in his career, and just the second time pitching at least five innings.

Kluber was very good, as expected, pitching seven strong innings allowing just the two runs, while striking out 10. His fan of Puig in the fifth inning was the 1,000th strikeout of the Kluber’s career.

Leaving the Fields

The Dodgers still held a lead against Kluber, at least until the seventh inning, when Josh Fields allowed a solo home run to Jose Ramirez, tying the score at 2-2. The next pitch nearly gave the Indians a lead, but Lonnie Chisenhall‘s deep drive curved foul at the last moment.

Fields, who has been mostly fantastic in relief for the Dodgers this season, has been bitten by the long ball bug of late. He has allowed four home runs in his last four outings, with three of the home runs erasing a Dodgers lead in a high-leverage situation.

Jansen count

Kenley Jansen retired the side in order in the ninth, and struck out one. That gave Jansen 45 strikeouts and no walks in 28⅔ innings, extending his major league record for most strikeouts to start a season before his first walk.

Up next

These two teams are right back at it again early Thursday morning, with Rich Hill on the mound for the Dodgers’ earliest start of the season, a 9:10 a.m. PT start, weather permitting. Josh Tomlin starts the series finale for the Indians.

Wednesday particulars

Home runs: Kiké Hernandez (6); Jose Ramirez (9)

WP - Josh Fields (3-0): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

LP - Andrew Miller (3-2): ⅔ IP, 2 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks

Sv - Kenley Jansen (13): 1 IP, 1 strikeout