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Walker Buehler flirts with no-hitter in Dodgers rout of Diamondbacks

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Season-high 11 strikeouts in Buehler’s longest start of the season

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Walker Buehler took a no-hitter into the eighth, and Will Smith had three hits, including a home run in the Dodgers’ 9-3 rout of the Diamondbacks on Saturday night at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Buehler struck out a season-high 11 batters on Saturday, allowing only two singles, two walks, and a hit by pitch in 7⅓ innings. He pitched into the eighth for the first time since a complete-game win on August 3, 2019, and his 108 pitches were his most since throwing 117 Game 5 of the 2019 NLDS.

After a walk to Ketel Marte to open the fourth inning, Buehler retired his next 12 batters faced before David Peralta’s eighth-inning single broke up a chance at history. One out later, Nick Ahmed singled to left. That ended Buehler’s night, but despite the game being played in Arizona, Buehler received a standing ovation from a Dodgers-heavy crowd at Chase Field.

“There’s a lot of pride in our fan base, in how they support us and follow us, and travel. It feels a lot like a home game here a lot of times,” Buehler said. “They were definitely loud, and it was a cool moment for me.”

Dave Roberts said he planned to ride Buehler as long as he had the no-hitter going, even up to 125 pitches or so.

“Man, I wanted that no-hitter. Everyone wanted it,” Roberts said. “I think pitch count is one thing, but when you peel back a layer, it’s stress of innings. And there wasn’t any stress. He was repeating his delivery. He was locating, the stuff held, so I was going to see it through. I wanted it for him.”

Buehler has pitched at least seven innings in six starts this season, two more than anyone else in the rotation. He’s tied with Shane Bieber of the Indians for third in the majors, averaging 6.48 innings per start.

“You can tell early if it’s going to be a good day or a bad day for him,” Smith said. “But even his bad days, he gets deep in the game and doesn’t give up any runs.”

Saturday was the deepest Buehler has taken a no-hitter into a start. He also threw six no-hit innings on May 4, 2018 against the Padres in Monterrey, Mexico, teaming up with three relievers to pitch the 23rd no-hitter in Dodgers history, and the only combined no-no in franchise lore.

Buehler was backed on Saturday by a Dodgers offense that scored more runs than in their previous three games combined.

It took until the eighth inning in the series opener on Friday for the Dodgers to score. But they wasted very little time on Saturday. Mookie Betts doubled to open the game, his 19th of the season. Two outs later, Smith homered to right field for a quick 2-0 lead, Smith’s third home run in his last six starts.

Another two-out run came in the second thanks to a walk and two singles, the second by Gavin Lux to plate Zach McKinstry.

Smith singled to center in the third inning, then drove a ground-rule double into the pool in right center. Three hits matched a season-high for Smith, last done on April 2 at Coors Field.

He had three of the 11 hard-hit balls — defined by Baseball Savant as having an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher — off Matt Peacock in five innings.

Buehler allowed zero hard-hit balls, until Ahmed’s single in the eighth inning, a 102.1-mph low liner to left. Before that David Peralta had the highest exit velocity on the night, a 94.7-mph groundout in the fifth inning that had an expected batting average of .130.

In a relative sense, Peacock allowing only three runs made him look like Arizona’s Cy Young. The Dodgers teed off on the Diamondbacks bullpen, with Justin Turner adding a three-run double in the sixth inning, and Chris Taylor a two-run homer in the eighth.

Eight of the Dodgers nine runs were scored with two outs.

Notes

  • One of the three batters to reach base against Buehler was catcher Carson Kelly, who was hit by a pitch in the second inning, and removed from the game shortly thereafter. The D-backs announced later that Kelly fractured his right wrist, another brutal setback in a season full of them for Arizona.
  • Buehler had two sacrifice bunts, tying Julio Urías for the team lead with five sacrifices on the season. Zach Davies of the Cubs is the league leader, with six. The sacrifices are part of a season-long hitting contest among Dodgers pitchers, albeit a smaller part. “You don’t get as many points for sac bunts as you do for what Julio and Kersh are doing,” Buehler said.
  • McKinstry walked twice, singled, and scored a pair of runs on Saturday, and in his last five games has reached base 10 times in 19 plate appearances.
  • Arizona has lost 16 straight games.

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Will Smith (8), Chris Taylor (10)

WP — Walker Buehler (7-0): 7⅓ IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts

LP — Matt Peacock (2-5): 5 IP, 7 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 3 strikeouts

Up next

Tony Gonsolin has let to allow a run after the first inning this season, and he’s only allowed two total runs in his two starts. But he’s also thrown 147 pitches in 5⅓ innings in those games, taxing the bullpen each time. He’ll make his third start of the season in Sunday’s series finale (1:10 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA).