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Tony Gonsolin goes scoreless again, and the Dodgers find their offense

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Another spotless spot start for Gonsolin

MLB: AUG 12 Padres at Dodgers Photo by Kyusung Gong/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The seventh pitcher on the rotation depth chart gave the team a scoreless spot start for the second time this season, and the Dodgers found their offense — eventually — in a 6-0 win over the Padres to snap a two-game losing streak.

Tony Gonsolin was wonderful in his two times through the order, delivering one of the best games of his career to date. He struck out a career-high eight and matched his best with 13 swinging strikes among his 82 pitches, per Baseball Savant.

“His splitty change up, whatever you want to call it, was just gross tonight,” Justin Turner said after the game. “It was unbelievable. He was able to throw a strike when he needed to throw for a strike, he was able to expand with it when he needed to expand with it. Obviously they weren’t seeing it well. Then, you throw in the other three pitches that are all plus pitches as well, that makes him a pretty good pitcher.”

Gonsolin allowed no runs, just like he allowed no runs in his first start this season, on July 31. This time Gonsolin was a little more stretched out and got through 4⅔ innings. The only thing keeping him from completing five was the Padres getting their third and fourth baserunners of the night, bunched in the same inning.

That brought up Fernando Tatis Jr. for a third time, which ended Gonsolin’s night. Enter Blake Treinen in the fifth inning, pitching before the seventh for the first time as a Dodger. He struck out Tatis to keep the game scoreless.

Bullpen coach Josh Bard before Wednesday’s game praised the lack of defined roles in the bullpen aside from Kenley Jansen as closer, affording Dave Roberts the opportunity to use his best relievers in higher leverage spots, perhaps earlier than planned.

“Just to have guys that can get right and left out, trying to put them in the best possible situation,” Bard said. “We’re not really looking at it as innings, like this guy pitches in the seventh, this guy pitches in the eighth.”

As such, Treinen, the Dodgers’ key free agent bullpen acquisition this winter on a one-year deal, stayed in to face the heart of the Padres order in the sixth, and he retired them all with two more strikeouts.

In between Treinen’s two frames, the Dodgers deployed a little-used weapon to revive a dormant offense. After an A.J. Pollock walk to open the sixth, Chris Taylor placed a perfect bunt to third base for a single. Edwin Rios followed with a single off pitcher Zach Davies’ glove for the first run of the game, then Austin Barnes’ safety squeeze brought home a second run.

The last time I could find two Dodgers position players bunting in the same inning was September 23, 2015, when Jimmy Rollins had a bunt single and Ronald Torreyes sacrificed in the eighth inning against Arizona.

The other high-leverage challenge came in the eighth, when Brusdar Graterol was brought in to face Tatis with a runner on first, nobody out, and a two-run lead. He got Tatis to ground into a 1-6-3 double play, then after a single, got out of another tying-run-at-the-plate situation by whiffing the highlight-friendly Manny Machado on this 91-mph slider:

The game was tense until the bottom of the eighth, when the Dodgers’ run faucet started flowing. After a pair of singles, Cody Bellinger delivered an RBI ground-rule double, his first extra-base hit in eight games. Justin Turner followed with a three-run home run, allowing the Dodgers offense to exhale for the first time since Sunday.

As for what’s next for Gonsolin, he might stay in the rotation for another time through the order, since the Dodgers have 11 more consecutive days with game after tonight. Or he could be optioned for another reliever while the Dodgers decide what to do next week.

“Tony’s done everything he needed to do to earn another start,” Roberts said. “Tony’s start tonight certainly makes the idea of giving our guys an extra day more sense.”

Smith dinged

Barnes was in the game for that safety squeeze because Will Smith, who started behind the plate, left in the fifth inning with a sore neck. Roberts said Smith has been dealing with remnants of a collision last week. Presumably it was this play with Tatis trying to score on August 3 in San Diego:

Smith, who has started five of eight games since that collision, felt his neck lock up while fielding a soft grounder in front of the plate by Trent Grisham in the third inning. Roberts said tests came back clear for Smith, who is day to day. Barnes will start Thursday’s series finale at catcher.

Notes

  • The RBI single for Rios was his second of the night, and his first two singles of the season. He also has three home runs and a double in his 22 at-bats.
  • Dodgers pitchers combined for a season-high 14 strikeouts on Wednesday.

Wednesday particulars

Home run: Justin Turner (2)

WP — Blake Treinen (1-1): 1⅓ IP, 3 strikeouts

LP — Zach Davies (2-2): 7 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 5 strikeouts

Up next

The Dodgers and Padres finish off their series on Thursday night, continuing the run of 6:40 p.m. PT games. Julio Urías, who turned 24 today, starts for the Dodgers tomorrow, facing Chris Paddack, who will be the 13th consecutive right-handed starting pitcher to face the Dodgers.