Rich Hill is fun to watch when things are going well. The gangly left-hander, who runs like a maniac on the bases, did it all Thursday night in Atlanta. Hill cruised through seven easy innings as the Dodgers shut down the Braves for an 8-2 win in the opener.
The Dodgers showed no ill effects from the nine hours of baseball played within a 20-hour span in Philadelphia over the previous two days. Once the offense got going, there was no stopping them.
Neither team had a runner reach second base before the Dodgers started in after Atlanta right-hander Anibal Sanchez in the fifth inning. Cody Bellinger beat out a ground ball to shortstop and, along with Matt Kemp who was already on first, would advance 90 feet to put runners in scoring position for the first time.
The Dodgers would go 4-for-11 with runners in scoring position before the night was over.
A Chris Taylor ground out, followed by an Alex Verdugo single, got Los Angeles out to a 2-0 lead as Hill continued to dominate.
Through five innings, Hill had retired 15 of the 18 batters he had faced, striking out six. The night was going so well for Hill, he even bounced a base hit into center field to bring Verdugo home during a three-run seventh.
The lefty finished with seven scoreless on 95 pitches, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out eight. Hill now owns a 2.47 ERA in seven starts sine returning from the DL on June 19, striking out 50 against 10 walks.
Pouring it on in the later innings, the Dodgers would score all eight from the fifth to the eighth innings. Manny Machado smashed his first homer in blue, a 426-foot blast to left center in the sixth inning. It’s the 25th long ball of the year for the Dodger third baseman, combined with the 24 he hit for the Orioles.
Four Dodgers chipped in two hits each Thursday, led by Yasmani Grandal reaching three times in five plate appearances. Grandal is now 22-for-54 (.407) with 14 walks in July with no signs of slowing down.
Joc Pederson, Taylor and Verdugo all drove in a run and scored one respectively to go with their two hits.
The Dodgers and Braves continue the four-game series, turning to Clayton Kershaw (3-5, 2.64) and Mike Foltynewicz (7-6, 2.85).
Home runs: Machado (25), Acuna Jr (9)
WP - Rich Hill (4-4): 7 IP, 3 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
LP - Anibal Sanchez (5-3): 6 1⁄3 IP, 7 hits, 5 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts