The Dodgers rode the stability of Julio Urías, turned on the power, and utilized a rejuvenated Mookie Betts to beat the Giants 6-1 on Saturday night in San Francisco, pulling back into a tie atop the National League West.
After Friday night’s loss, manager Dave Roberts said he felt the team was playing from behind all night. They had no such issues on Saturday, outdoing the 11-inning output in the opening frame alone on Saturday.
Trea Turner started the game with a home run to center, his third since joining the Dodgers and 21st long ball of the season. Betts followed with a one-out walk and stole two bases, the second coming on a double steal with Justin Turner.
Those were the first stolen bases for Betts since June 25, with two different injured list stints for his right hip taking up the bulk of time in between. Those steals, plus Tuesday’s mad dash around the bases, scoring the winning run from first base on a double, have Betts looking much more like his dynamic self of late.
“I’m in a good place mentally, just knowing that I can actually run and go play the game the right way, to play hard and not have to worry about anything,” Betts said Friday. “It definitely helps clear my mind, and it’s easy to just focus on the game.”
AJ Pollock capped the three-run first inning with an RBI double, but he was picked off trying to steal third base and suffered a Grade 2 strain of his hamstring. Pollock had to leave the game without ever playing on defense, and is expected to miss at least 2-3 weeks.
The Dodgers added an insurance run in the sixth inning thanks to some help. Justin Turner singled and took second by an airmailed throw by shortstop Mauricio Dubón, advanced to third base on a wild pitch by reliever José Quintana, then scored on a balk.
Corey Seager added a solo home run of his own in the ninth inning, part of a two-run frame off Sammy Long, the eighth pitcher used by the Giants in the first of two consecutive bullpen games.
Six runs was the Dodgers’ highest total in 15 games, since a nine-run outburst on August 18.
That Dodgers scored at least six runs for the 15th time in Urías’ 27 starts, which was more than enough on Saturday thanks to another solid outing for the left-hander.
“It’s a blessing to have the offense like the one we have, especially when I’m on the mound,” Urías said, through a translator.
Urías scattered eight hits in his 5⅔ innings, his 96 pitches tying his most since the All-Star break. Urías allowed three doubles, though all of them were with two outs. He only allowed one run, thanks to holding San Francisco to 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
“The bar has been raised for Julio,” Roberts said. “The way he goes deep into games, the expectation to win every time he takes the mound, the ability to navigate and minimize damage. Tonight, he did that.”
He didn’t quite complete six innings, something he’s done just once in his last seven starts, but Urías has pitched at least five innings in all but one of his 27 starts. It’s a stability the Dodgers have craved since the beginning of July, when they’ve had between three and four actual starting pitchers at a time.
Since July 1, Urías, Walker Buehler, and Max Scherzer have lasted at least five innings in 27 of 28 starts. In the other 28 games, the Dodgers have just five individual outings of at least five innings.
Since returning from the injured list, Urías has allowed three runs in 16⅔ innings in his three starts, with only two walks to go with his 19 strikeouts. Urías struck out eight Giants on Saturday, and completed a whiff of Darin Ruf in the fifth inning with a 97.2-mph fastball, the fastest pitch Urías has thrown all season.
“There were signs of being tired, right when that calf went out a little bit,” Roberts said of Urías before the game. “From that point, there has been a recharge.”
Saturday’s start puts Urías at 156⅓ innings this season, 28⅔ more than he’s ever thrown in any year, and with potentially two more months left on the schedule.
“In a vacuum it’s going to be considerably more than he’s ever pitched, but I do think with Julio’s work, and another year of age, getting stronger and being more efficient in how he attacks each start, is going to allow us to get through it,” Roberts said. “There’s no more respite. We’re going to go through the end of October, and we expect him to be a big part of it and be fresh.”
Home runs: Trea Turner (21), Corey Seager (8)
WP — Julio Urías (16-3): 5⅔ IP, 8 hits, 1 run, 8 strikeouts
LP — Jay Jackson (2-1): ⅓ IP, 1 hit, 3 runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout
Walker Buehler is on the mound for the Dodgers on ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ (4:08 p.m., ESPN), with the Giants using another bullpen game.