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Battle of the bullpens tilts toward Dodgers in late home run derby with Rockies

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A.J. Pollock’s go-ahead shot in the 8th was one of 3 HR in the inning for LA

Colorado Rockies v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Friday night’s game at Dodger Stadium was tight in the middle innings, and became a battle of the bullpens. It was an advantage for the Dodgers, as one might expect, but this one was a wild ride. Five home runs were hit in the final three innings, and the Dodgers hit four of them to power past the Rockies, 10-6.

A.J. Pollock hit a two-run home run in the eighth inning to give the Dodgers back the lead, ending a game of leapfrog over the final few frames. Joc Pederson followed with a solo shot, and Mookie Betts hit a two-run shot later in the inning to widen the gap.

“We do a good job of knowing where we need to look to really do some damage up there, and not just slap it around,” Pollock said on a postgame conference call. “We have a lot of guys that can drive the ball, and it’s fun when you get everything rolling.”

The Dodgers had to claw back because the Rockies loaded the bases against Brusdar Graterol and Caleb Ferguson in the top of the eighth on a hit by pitch, a walk, and a soft pop up that landed out of reach up the third base line in a shifted infield. Newly acquired Rockies outfielder Kevin Pillar followed with a grand slam of Ferguson, negating the three-run cushion the Dodgers built in the previous half inning.

Will Smith had the big blow in the seventh, a two-run home run against Mychal Givens, another new Rockie acquired at the trade deadline. That tiebreaking shot scored Chris Taylor, who recovered from hitting the dirt on a pitch up and in to hitting an opposite-field single on an outside pitch.

Best Dodgers 40-game starts

Year Start Finish
Year Start Finish
1888 30-10 2nd in A.A.*
1955 30-10 won WS
1977 30-10 lost WS
2020 30-10 TBD
*Brooklyn finished in second place in the American Association in 1888, 6½ games back of St. Louis Source: Baseball-Reference

The Dodgers’ sixth consecutive win put them at 30-10 on the season, matching the best 40-game start in franchise history. The last such Dodgers start came in 1977, along with the Brooklyn teams in 1888 and 1955. This is the best 40-game start in the majors since the 116-win Mariners began 31-9 in 2001.

Former Dodgers minor leaguer Raimel Tapia hit the third pitch of the game over the right field wall, the first time in eight starts this season that Dustin May allowed anyone to score in the first inning.

May settled down nicely after that, striking out five while pitching into the sixth while allowing two runs, a number he hasn’t surpassed this year. The second run was a solo shot by Sam Hilliard in the fifth inning, marking the first time May has allowed two home runs in a major league game.

It was Hilliard’s third home run in just four games against the Dodgers this season. In his brief major league career, Hilliard has five home runs in nine games at Dodger Stadium. He has six home runs in 29 career games at Coors Field.

May threw a season-high 21 curveballs on Friday, including 14 for strikes, though he likened the pitch more to a slurve because the break a little tighter than his usual curve.

“It gave me a lot of confidence going forward, being able to put the ball over the zone with the breaking ball and the four-seam [fastball],” May said after the game, “and just having the confidence and conviction behind it, knowing that it’s going to get people out.”

Delay of game

The game was briefly delayed in the bottom of the second when a drone flew overhead at Dodger Stadium. It happened during an interview with Kiké Hernández, who had jokes:

The drone interrupted a discussion with Alanna Rizzo of the weirdness of the extra round of the playoffs this season, a three-game series without much of an advantage for division winners. After play resumed, Hernández picked up right where he left off in the interview, tying the drone and the playoff discussion together with a beautiful bow.

“I think Trevor Bauer was doing some scouting,” Hernández joked.

Notes

  • Five home runs are the third-most hit by the Dodgers this season. Two of their top three home run games came in starts by Antonio Senzatela, though the Rockies right-hander only surrendered one of the five on Friday.
  • Fifteen hits were a season high for the Dodgers.

Friday particulars

Home runs: Max Muncy (10), Will Smith (5), A.J. Pollock (8), Joc Pederson (6), Mookie Betts (13); Raimel Tapia (1), Sam Hilliard (6), Kevin Pillar (5)

WP — Caleb Ferguson (2-0): ⅓ IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 strikeout

LP — Carlos Estevez (1-1): ⅓ IP, 4 hits, 4 runs

Up next

Tony Gonsolin takes the ball on Saturday night (6:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), facing off against German Marquez for the Rockies.