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Dodgers surge late to beat Arizona in opener

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

With his team down by a run after six innings, Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts decided to pull Clayton Kershaw in favor of a pinch hitter after just 84 pitches. Making the move even more difficult was the fact that Kershaw had mowed the Diamondbacks down on six pitches in the bottom of the sixth.

The move would pay off as Yasiel Puig came off the bench to single and eventually came around to score the go-ahead run. They tacked on three more in the ninth as the Dodgers came away with a 7-4 win over Arizona in the opener.

Puig’s single put runners on first and second with nobody out for the top of the order, trailing 3-2. Roberts went to his deep bench again — this time to Max Muncy — when the Dbacks brought in right-hander Brad Ziegler to face Chris Taylor.

Muncy reached out and slapped a 76-mph changeup to left field on the third pitch, bringing pinch-runner Tim Locastro home from second to tie the game. Three batters later, Manny Machado hit a ball to the hole at shortstop, allowing Puig to come in from third with no chance of a double play.

The clutch seventh inning allows the Dodgers lead in the NL West to remain at one and a half games, with Colorado handling their business at home over the Phillies.

In a tight back-and-forth game, the Dodgers needed the insurance runs that came in the ninth inning. The first four hitters reached, including an RBI-double off the bat of Machado that was bookended by two run-scoring wild pitches.

The Dodgers were 5-for-14 in the last three innings, something they’ve done really well recently. Coming into Monday, they were hitting .274/.367/.506 with 62 extra-base hits in the seventh, eighth and ninth combined since the start of August.

Outside of pitching to Ketel Marte, Kershaw had a relatively normal night. The lefty allowed six hits and a walk in his six innings of work, striking out six. Marte would be a thorn in Kershaw’s side all night.

Given a 1-0 lead in the opening inning, Kershaw would immediately give it back in the bottom half of the first. Marte followed a one-out single from Eduardo Escobar with a triple to tie the game.

It would be Marte again in the third, this time with a solo homer that landed 455 feet away from home plate to give Arizona a 2-1 lead.

Robbie Ray was cruising at that point for the Dbacks after a shaky first inning that saw a David Freese RBI-single and the Dodgers load the bases with one out. Ray would get the final two batters of the inning to prevent any further damage and went on to retire 14 of the last 17 batters he faced in five innings. But not before giving up the lead.

Freese muscled a solo home run to right field with two outs in the fifth to pull his team even. The 35-year-old is now 12-for-32 (.375) since joining the Dodgers September 1.

Marte would get Kershaw one more time in the fifth inning, cashing in Chris Owings with a run-scoring single to center.

Kenley Jansen came in to nail down the win with the Dodgers on top by four. The big man gave up a home run to A.J. Pollock but struck out two of the next three to secure the victory.

Up Next

The Dodgers and Dbacks play the middle game of the series with Walker Buehler (7-5, 2.74) getting the call against Matt Koch (5-5, 4.26).

Monday Particulars

Home Runs: Freese (11), Marte (13), Pollock (20)

WP: Clayton Kershaw (9-5): 6 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts

LP: Andrew Chafin (1-6): 0 IP, 1 hit, 2 runs, 1 walk