A two-run rally in the seventh inning gave the Dodgers a happy flight home, escaping Philadelphia with a 5-4 win over the Phillies on getaway day, moving Los Angeles to the threshold of their fifth straight National League West title.
The win improved the Dodgers’ division lead over the Diamondbacks to nine games, with nine to play. Arizona is off on Thursday, but the Dodgers could clinch the NL West on Friday with either a win over San Francisco or an Arizona loss to Miami.
Down a run in the seventh inning, Andre Ethier led off the frame with an opposite-field home run to tie the score. It was the second home run of the season for Ethier, who is 8-for-25 with a double and two walks since returning from the disabled list, hitting .320/.370/.600.
Chris Taylor followed with a triple off the center field wall, then scored the go-ahead run on a ground out by Cody Bellinger. Taylor was 6-for-15 (.400) in the series with three extra-base hits.
In addition to the losses, this was a painful series for the Dodgers physically. Justin Turner left Thursday’s game with a left thumb contusion after getting hit by a pitch, and Bellinger was checked out in the dugout after getting spiked on the hand by catcher Jorge Alfaro on a slide into home plate in the third inning. Bellinger stayed in the game.
This was after Corey Seager fouled a ball off his right ankle on Wednesday and sat out the series finale.
To top things off, Thursday was a bullpen game for the Dodgers, with Kenta Maeda pulled after just three innings, going back to the well after the relief corps allowed 10 runs in 6⅔ innings in the first three games of the series.
Philadelphia scored a pair of runs off Josh Fields in the fifth inning, thanks in part to a throwing error by Chase Utley. Rhys Hoskins delivered the big blow that inning with a double, giving the rookie six RBI during the four-game series.
But outside of that, the Dodgers bullpen delivered in the series finale, combining for six innings, with nine strikeouts. Walker Buehler walked one and struck out three in a scoreless sixth inning to earn his first major league win.
Tony Cingrani walked J.P. Crawford with two outs in the eighth inning, the first walk Cingrani has allowed to a left-handed batter since joining the Dodgers. Lefties are 4-for-26 (.154) against Cingrani since his acquistion, with 13 strikeouts.
Kenley Jansen was called in with Crawford on first base, and recorded the final four outs for his 39th save. Jansen, in just his second appearance in the last nine days, notched his 11th save of longer than one inning in 2017.
The Dodgers offense plated runs in the first and third innings, both aided by Phillies errors, and got a home run by Curtis Granderson in the sixth inning, his third extra-base hit of the series. But that was it in six innings against Mark Leiter Jr., who continued a fantastic series by Phillies starting pitchers against the Dodgers.
Philadelphia starters during the four games allowed eight runs (six earned) on 17 hits in 24 innings, with 22 strikeouts and eight walks for a 2.25 ERA.
Maeda entered Thursday with 14 walks in his previous 14 starts, never walking more than two batters in a game during that span. Naturally, he walked two of his first five batters faced in a 31-pitch first inning. The Phillies loaded the bases against Maeda in the first, but Odubel Herrera was caught looking on a full-count pitch to end the frame, Maeda’s third strikeout of the inning.
Maeda didn’t walk another batter, but he did give up a two-run home run to Nick Williams in the third inning, tying the score at 2-2. Maeda lasted just the three innings, pulled for a pinch hitter in the fourth after 61 pitches.
This was Maeda's final start. He'll transition to the bullpen. Dave Roberts said "Going forward we see him as a weapon out of the bullpen."— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) September 21, 2017
LA Dodgers to play 1B/CF in same game
|Scott Van Slyke||1||2015|
When Turner was removed in the second inning, four different players changed defensive positions. That included Bellinger, who moved from first base to center field. It was the third major league game at the position for Bellinger, but the first time he played both first base and center field in the same game.
Bellinger later moved back to first base, in the eighth inning. It was a busy game for defensive switches.
Since moving to Los Angeles in 1958, only 11 players have played both first base and center field in the same game, most notably Ron Fairly 15 times and Wes Parker seven times. Before Bellinger, the last Dodger to do it was Scott Van Slyke on Sept. 28, 2015.
Back in Brooklyn, Gil Hodges even did it once, playing the final three innings in center field after starting at first base against Cincinnati on July 18, 1955. It was the only career game that Hodges saw time in center.
The road trip now over, the Dodgers return to Dodger Stadium for their final homestand of the regular season. The Giants come to town this weekend, with Rich Hill facing Jeff Samardzija in Friday night’s series opener.
Home runs: Curtis Granderson (25), Andre Ethier (2); Nick Williams (11)
WP - Walker Buehler (1-0): 1 IP, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
LP - Ricardo Pinto (1-2): ⅓ IP, 2 hits, 2 runs
Sv - Kenley Jansen (39): 1⅓ IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout