The Dodgers turned on the power on Thursday at Dodger Stadium, hitting four home runs to make the load Leiter for pitcher Tony Gonsolin, who provided more consistent excellence on the mound in a 5-3 win over the Cubs.
Mookie Betts started the scoring in the first inning with his second home run in his last three games, on the eve of likely being announced as a starter in the outfield for the National League All-Stars. Betts since returning from the injured list on Sunday has at least one hit all five games, and he’s driven in a run in his last four contests.
Betts also got hit on his left hand by an 88-mph two-seam fastball in the fifth, which provided a scare and quick examination near the Dodgers dugout by team trainer Thomas Albert. But Betts remained in the game, and added another home run, this one off reliever Michael Rucker in the eighth.
Two homer night? Call it Mookie magic. pic.twitter.com/4yp8tJN33u— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) July 8, 2022
Betts leads the Dodgers with 20 home runs.
Gavin Lux hit a two-run shot off Cubs starter Mark Leiter Jr. in the second inning, and Justin Turner his a solo shot to center in the fourth, the third home run of the game against Leiter.
Turner continued his hot streak of late, reaching base in his last nine games. Dating back to June 21, Turner is hitting .400/.438/.673 with four home runs, three doubles, and 11 RBI in 16 games.
The Dodgers are 13-2 when the homer at least three times in a game this season. Gonsolin improved to 11-0 with yet another superb start.
Christopher Morel’s two-run home run in the fifth got the Cubs off the schneid, but was notable for being the first home run all season against Gonsolin with anyone on base. Opponents this season against Gonsolin with runners on base have just nine hits in 99 at-bats (.091).
It was just the third inning this season in which Gonsolin has allowed multiple runs. He’s started 90 innings this season, and 77 of them have been scoreless. Thursday marked just the fifth start out of 16 this year that Gonsolin has allowed more than one run in a game.
After the home run by Morel, Gonsolin didn’t allow any other Cubs to reach base, retiring his final seven batters to get through seven innings for the second start in a row. His MLB-best ERA ballooned from 1.54 all the way up to 1.62 with this start.
Gonsolin has yet to walk a batter in July, lasting at least seven innings in both starts this month, after pitching that deep only once in his first 49 career games.
Brusdar Graterol relieved Gonsolin in the eighth, but left after just four pitches and one out, walking off the field with team trainers with what the team said was right side soreness.
Staked to a three-run lead in the ninth, Craig Kimbrel struck out the first two batters in the ninth, but then allowed a single and double to allow a run, the latter a bloop to right field likely influenced by Betts’ prescriptive reticence on defense while still recovering from a broken rib.
A walk to Patrick Wisdom put the tying run on base and ended Kimbrel’s night after two outs and a season-high 31 pitches.
Alex Vesia came to the rescue, striking out Nelson Velásquez looking to end the game and secure his first save of the season, and second in his career. Vesia is the fifth Dodgers pitcher to record a save this season, and the third LA pitcher not named Kimbrel to earn a save in the last four games.
Home runs: Mookie Betts 2 (20), Gavin Lux (3), Justin Turner (8); Christopher Morel (9)
WP — Tony Gonsolin (11-0): 7 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 3 strikeouts
LP — Mark Leiter Jr. (2-3): 5 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 4 strikeouts
Sv — Alex Vesia (1): ⅓ IP, 1 strikeout
Tyler Anderson gets the call on Friday night (7:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network), with right-hander Keegan Thompson starting for Chicago.