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Dodgers stick to the formula to beat Royals

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Los Angeles Dodgers
Kenta Maeda was busy on Friday night for the Dodgers.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — Runs have been at a premium so far on this homestand, but for the fourth straight night the Dodgers managed to plate just a little more than their opponent. On Friday, the Royals were the victims, in the Dodgers’ 4-1 win of their interleague series opener.

The win gave the Dodgers 24 wins in their last 28 games, and 37 wins in their last 48 games. These things don’t normally happen.

The club improved to 37-11 at home in 2017 (including 16 wins in their last 17 games). That is not usually in the realm of the possible, yet here we are.

Kenta Maeda looked much more like his June self than he did last Sunday, and he fit the Dodgers’ blueprint nicely. Maeda got through five innings, allowing just one run on four hits. He struck out five and walked two, and lowered his home ERA to 3.11.

“It was a solid outing,” manager Dave Roberts said. “The stuff had teeth.”

Dodgers starters on this homestand in four games have allowed two runs on 11 hits in 26 innings, with six walks and 35 strikeouts.

The Dodgers rallied for a pair of runs in the fourth inning, turning a 1-0 deficit into a one-run lead with four singles. One was by Maeda, who motored around second to score the go-ahead run on a hit by Corey Seager.

“That was a big hit to keep the line moving,” Roberts said of Maeda.

Maeda got through the Royals order twice, plus two batters, then turned it over to a Dodgers bullpen that was ready for the task.

Josh Fields worked around a single in a scoreless sixth, then Brock Stewart followed with two perfect innings. Stewart on the season has allowed one hit and one walk in his nine scoreless innings, with eight strikeouts.

Kenley Jansen then finished things off in the ninth to secure the Dodgers’ fourth straight win.

Grand style

That one-run lead swelled thanks to a solo home run by Yasiel Puig in the sixth inning, then a pair of doubles by Joc Pederson and Chase Utley in the eighth.

For Utley, driving in Pederson gave him 1,000 career RBI, just the 283rd player in major league history to reach the milestone. Utley is one of just nine active players with 1,000 RBI (10 if you count Ryan Howard).

Taking what they give

Cody Bellinger went without a home run for an 11th straight game on Friday, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t too big of a deal when his longest power drought is his current 44-plate-appearance stretch.

But Bellinger did walk and single on Friday. The hit was a bunt single up the third base line, hit to no man’s land since Kansas City shifted most of its infield when Bellinger was up.

Bellinger leads the Dodgers with four bunt hits in 2017. They have six total as a team.

Friday particulars

Home run: Yasiel Puig (16)

WP - Kenta Maeda (7-4): 5 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

LP - Jason Hammel (4-8): 6 IP, 8 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts

Sv - Kenley Jansen (21): 1 IP, zeroes