Cody Bellinger homered and drove in two runs, backing Rich Hill and the Dodgers bullpen in a 3-2 win over the Nationals on Saturday afternoon in Washington D.C.
The Dodgers’ fourth straight win gave them a 10-game lead over the Diamondbacks in the National League West, with 14 games remaining. LA’s magic number to clinch a fifth consecutive division title is five.
A second straight win in Washington gave the Dodgers a seven-game lead over the Nationals in the race for the best record in the NL. The Dodgers’ magic number to clinch home field advantage through the NL playoffs is eight.
At 96-52, the Dodgers have their most wins in a season since winning 98 games in 1977. Again, there are 14 games remaining in 2017.
Bellinger got the scoring started with a solo home run in the second inning, tying Wally Berger and Frank Robinson for the most homers ever hit by a National League rookie, with 38.
Bellinger also delivered an RBI single in the third inning and a walk in the fifth. He has walked in seven straight games, the longest streak by a Dodger this season.
Hill struck out seven in his five innings on Saturday, and the only hit he allowed was a solo home run by Anthony Rendon in the fourth inning. Hill’s day was done relatively early, after just 74 pitches, pulled for a pinch hitter with two runners on and one out in the top of the sixth inning, with the Dodgers trying to pad their two-run advantage.
Hill walked two on the day, including his mound opponent A.J. Cole in the third inning. The walk to Cole was Hill’s fifth free pass issued to a pitcher this season, the most in baseball in 2017, one more than Jerad Eickhoff of the Phillies.
Washington pulled to within a run in the eighth inning, boosted by a pair of ground balls Corey Seager couldn’t corral at shortstop. The first was a soft bouncer behind the mound by the speedy Wilmer Difo for a single, followed by a potential double play ball by pinch-hitter Adam Lind that went under Seager’s glove into left field. The latter play was originally called an error, but later changed to a single for Lind.
Trea Turner followed with a single to cash in one of the runs, drawing the Nationals to within 3-2, but Tony Watson was able to escape the jam, thanks in large part to a diving catch by Yasiel Puig in right field to end the inning, robbing Daniel Murphy of a potential game-tying single.
Game on the line? @YasielPuig's got it covered. pic.twitter.com/Kn0NPINHVa— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 16, 2017
Chase Utley was in the middle of a pair of scoring rallies by the Dodgers, doubling and scoring in both the third and fifth innings. Utley has an extra-base hit in each of his last three games, and now has 400 doubles in his career, the 184th player in major league history to reach that milestone.
After starting his season 5-for-51 (.098), Utley is hitting .264/.349/.468 in his last 93 games and 270 plate appearances. With 19 doubles on the season, he is one shy of giving the Dodgers eight players with 20 or more doubles in 2017. That would tie a franchise record, joining the 1934 and 2002 Dodgers teams.
On bruised percentage
Justin Turner was hit by a pitch in the third inning, his 17th HBP of the season. That is one shy of the Los Angeles Dodgers record, set by Alex Cora in 2004. The franchise record is 20 HBP in one season, set by Brooklyn first baseman Hughie Jennings in 1900.
Austin Barnes and Logan Forsythe were also hit by pitches on Saturday, with the Dodgers setting a season high with three HBP.
You may have noticed a prominent character from the movie ‘Major League’ in the Dodgers dugout during the series in San Francisco earlier in the week.
The fact that the Dodgers brought Jobu into the dugout to end their slump...and that it worked...is both hilarious and spooky pic.twitter.com/8krH6JExFB— Jon Roemer (@Jonroemer) September 14, 2017
The hero here: Yasmani Grandal.
For those wondering where the Jobu figure came from in #Dodgers dugout during SF series. Grandal bought it & placed it there. Only $59.99— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) September 16, 2017
These two teams wrap up their weekend showdown on ESPN ‘Sunday Night Baseball,’ with Hyun-jin Ryu starting the series finale against Stephen Strasburg.
Home runs: Cody Bellinger (38); Anthony Rendon (24)
WP - Rich Hill (10-8): 5 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
LP - A.J. Cole (2-5): 5 IP, 7 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (38): 1 IP, zeroes