LOS ANGELES — A funny thing happened on the way to No. 11. The Dodgers offense has been clicking on all cylinders, especially in the home run department, and they faced Ricky Nolasco, who has allowed the most home runs in the majors this season. Naturally, Nolasco kept the Dodgers scoreless on his watch in a 4-0 Angels victory to open the Freeway Series on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers had a couple near misses against Nolasco, who has allowed 23 home runs this season. Chase Utley led off the game with a double off the right field wall, and Joc Pederson hit one to the wall in right field, where a leaping Kole Calhoun robbed him of extra bases.
“I thought we almost had one,” manager Dave Roberts said. “That’s the game of baseball.”
Nolasco stranded the bases loaded in the first inning, and left Chris Taylor — who hit a one-out double — at second base in the third inning.
The Dodgers didn’t threaten much against Nolasco until the seventh, when Yasiel Puig singled off Nolasco’s glove followed by Kiké Hernandez doubling on a ricochet off Nolasco’s leg. That forced Nolasco out of the game, and gave the Dodgers two runners in scoring position with one out. But relief pitcher Cam Bedrosian struck out Mike Freeman* and Chase Utley to end the frame.
*Logan Forsythe was in the on-deck circle to bat for Rich Hill, but Roberts opted for the left-handed Freeman to pinch hit instead, putting to rest any thoughts that Corey Seager was available to pinch hit on Monday.
Roberts said the decision to keep Seager unavailable was made before the game. Seager originally felt the hamstring injury on a swing, and Roberts didn’t feel comfortable, at least on Monday, to have Seager bat in a game.
The Dodgers will have Seager run through more tests on the field, more strenuous agility tests, running arcs on the bases, and taking live batting practice before deciding on his status for Tuesday, and possibly beyond.
Seager has already missed three games with the hamstring injury. At this point, if the Dodgers place him on the disabled list, he would have to miss at least a week.
Hill had his best start of the season, striking out seven in seven innings, the first time he lasted beyond the fifth inning all season. But he suffered the tough-luck loss, allowing three runs on the night.
Hill entered Monday with the second-highest walk rate among major league pitchers with at least 40 innings (14.5%), and while he only walked two on the night there was one free pass that was especially stinging.
Hill walked the opposing pitcher Nolasco to open the third inning, then Cameron Maybin followed with an infield single off the glove of Chase Utley at second base. Hill nearly escaped the jam, but after a double steal Hill left a curveball left up to Yunel Escobar that was deposited just in front of a hamstrung Yasiel Puig in right field for a two-out, two run single to put the Halos on the board.
The only other run Hill allowed came after a triple by Andrelton Simmons in the fourth inning, a ball misplayed by Pederson in center field. Simmons scored on a sacrifice fly, and recovered to retire 12 of his final 13 batters faced.
The Dodgers were shut out for the first time since June 4 in Milwaukee, and their streak of home runs ended at 17 consecutive games, tied for the longest since the franchise moved to Los Angeles.
Home run: Martin Maldonado (8)
WP - Ricky Nolasco (3-9): 6⅓ IP, 5 hits, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
LP - Rich Hill (4-4): 7 IP, 4 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts