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A.J. Pollock keeping it simple, and it’s working for the Dodgers

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Home run and double against his old team in Thursday’s series opener

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

A.J. Pollock is back home in Arizona for a second straight weekend, getting to spend time with his wife and four-month-old daughter. On Thursday, he homered and doubled, helping the Dodgers to a 6-3 win over the Diamondbacks in the first of a four-game series at Chase Field.

Last weekend, he missed Friday and Saturday’s home games against the Giants, driving home to Phoenix. His daughter Maddie Mae was born three months premature in March, and was finally set to go home for the first time after 128 days in the hospital. Pollock relished the opportunity.

“Baseball really consumes a lot of your your mental stamina, and most of your day you’re thinking about baseball, but I just put that aside for two days to take care of Maddie,” Pollock said on a conference call Thursday. “I got to watch the game on the couch with Maddie on my lap, which was amazing.”

Pollock has occupied his time at home with his wife and daughter, who as he described it is experiencing an overwhelming new world after “staring at the ceiling of a hospital for four months.”

In the early going, he’s had success on the field, too. He has at least one hit in all five starts so far, hitting .471 (8-for-17) with three doubles and a home run. In 11 games against his old team, Pollock has seven extra-base hits, going 14-for-41 (.341) with 10 runs batted in.

“In some ways, maybe it just got me to just say, look, keep it simple. I got a lot of other stuff going on. So when I’m at the field, all this other stuff that I probably used to do, maybe just put that aside and really just focus on just the important stuff,” Pollock explained, “It’s like a pickup game of basketball, you just go out there and compete. It’s worked so far.”

A tale of two starts

Pollock’s home run was a two-run shot in the first inning, giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. Corey Seager continued his hard-hitting ways with a solo shot in the second, his second homer in as many nights. That all contributed to an early exit for Robbie Ray, who walked a career high six and allowed five runs.

Ray, who entered the game with a 3.31 ERA in 21 career starts against the Dodgers (including the playoffs), lasted just 4⅔ innings on Thursday. That’s his second-shortest start against the Dodgers, ahead of only his 4⅓ innings in Game 2 of the 2017 NLDS.

Ross Stripling, picked up right where he left off last week, pitching into the sixth on a night after the Dodgers bullpen pitched 15 innings in the previous two games. Stripling allowed three runs with two walks and two strikeouts, picking up his second win.

Stripling is the only Dodgers starting pitcher to last past five innings this season, and he’s done it in both starts.

Thursday particulars

Home runs: A.J. Pollock (1), Corey Seager (2), Max Muncy (3); Ketel Marte (1)

WP — Ross Stripling (2-0): 5⅓ IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, strikeouts

LP — Robbie Ray (0-2): 4⅔ IP, 5 hits, 5 runs, 6 walks, 4 strikeouts

Sv — Pedro Baez (1): 1 IP, 1 walk

Up next

These two teams are back at it at the same time Friday (6:40 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA), with Tony Gonsolin called up to start for the Dodgers against right-hander Zac Gallen for Arizona. A roster move will be made tomorrow to add Gonsolin.