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Tony Gonsolin, Chris Taylor lead Dodgers over Diamondbacks

Kimbrel, LA hold on in 9th to win opener

MLB: MAY 16 Diamondbacks at Dodgers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tony Gonsolin was allowed to pitch deeper than usual on Monday, and delivered six strong innings to lead the Dodgers over the Diamondbacks 5-4 in the opener of a four-game series at Dodger Stadium.

Gonsolin got uncommon rope, wading five batters into the choppy waters of the third time through Arizona’s lineup. Kettle Marte, who had a fly-ball double earlier and scored with the help of an error, hit a fly-ball single with two outs in the sixth. Christian Walker, who homered off Gonsolin in the second inning, was pitched around in a five-pitch walk.

But Gonsolin rewarded the faith by striking out Josh Rojas to end the threat. Gonsolin’s seven strikeouts are a season high, and two more than he had in any previous 2022 start.

His 23 batters faced are the third-most in his career, behind a pair of slightly deeper outings in September 2020. That regular season was Gonsolin’s best, posting a 2.31 ERA, forcing his way into a rotation spot, then lasting at least six innings in four of his final seven starts.

Shoulder inflammation sidelined Gonsolin for long stints in 2021, when he lost two ticks off his fastball, never recorded more than 16 outs in a game, and averaged under four innings in his 15 appearances.

Gonsolin reached six innings for the second time this season on Monday, and reached 94.9 mph on his fastball in his final frame. His 92 pitches tied a career best, set in 2019.

The five batters faced the third time through on Monday were one more than Gonsolin faced in his first six starts combined this season. The results so far have been stellar, allowing only seven total runs in his seven outings, with a 1.64 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 33 innings.

What made the sixth inning different for Gonsolin, within the context of Monday’s game, was that he had the lead for the first time. The Dodgers squandered a two-on, no-out situation in the fourth, then put themselves in the same spot in the fifth thanks to a Chris Taylor double and a walk by Austin Barnes.

Madison Bumgarner wiggled out of that earlier jam, then got Sunday goat-turned-hero Gavin Lux to pop out in the infield. But it took only four pitches for the game to flip.

Mookie Betts lined a single that skipped past Alek Thomas in center field, allowing both runners to score and tie the game, with Betts reaching third. Freddie Freeman followed with an opposite field double for the Dodgers’ first lead of the game.

But the long and the short of the Dodgers offense came in the sixth inning, after Bumgarner and his 96 pitches exited. Much was made about several left-handed Dodgers getting specific bunting instruction before the game from manager Dave Roberts, who had 76 bunt hits in his 10-year playing career, including 18 such safeties in each of 2002 and 2003 with the Dodgers.

Muncy beat out an infield dribbler for a single to beat the shift in the second inning, but his effort in the sixth was intentional, laying down a perfect bunt up the third base line for his third career bunt single, and first since 2019. Muncy’s two infield hits on Monday matched his total in the first 32 games this season.

Taylor followed the small ball with a long ball, an opposite-field home run to widen the Dodgers’ advantage. It was Taylor’s first game with multiple extra-base hits this season, and continued a resurgence of his bat on this homestand.

Taylor had an 11-game skid that saw him strike out 22 times in 40 plate appearances, with only six hits. That included fouling a ball off his left knee in Pittsburgh, which sidelined him for a game. But he’s reached base multiple times in the first five games of the homestand, going 6-for-17 (.353) with two home runs, two doubles, four walks, and only two strikeouts.

The insurance runs were very much needed as Craig Kimbrel allowed an infield single before a two-run home run by David Peralta cut the Dodgers’ lead to just one with one out in the ninth. Kimbrel recovered for the final two outs, converting his sixth save in six tries this season.

Welcome back

Left-hander Caleb Ferguson pitched a scoreless inning in his first game back after Tommy John surgery in 2020. He walked his first batter, David Peralta, on five pitches, but recovered to strike out Geraldo Perdomo then induced a pair of groundouts to end the frame.

Ferguson, who was activated off the injured list earlier Monday, pitched in his first major league game since September 15, 2020.

Monday particulars

Home runs: Chris Taylor (3); Christian Walker (7), David Peralta (5)

WP — Tony Gonsolin (4-0): 6 IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts

LP — Madison Bumgarner (2-2): 5 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Sv — Craig Kimbrel (6): 1 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 2 strikeouts

Up next

Tuesday is doubleheader day, with games at 12:10 p.m. (SportsNet LA) and 7:10 p.m. (SportsNet LA, MLB Network). Tyler Anderson and Merrill Kelly face off in the nightcap. Left-hander Tyler Gilbert starts the opener for Arizona. It’ll probably be Ryan Pepiot for the Dodgers in the first game, though they haven’t announced a starter just yet. It’s the first doubleheader at Dodger Stadium since July 22, 1999.