LOS ANGELES — One night after Dave Roberts correctly described his offense as having not threatened all night, the Dodgers were on the same path Saturday, until stringing together three hits in the ninth inning, the last a two-run, walk-off single by David Peralta to beat the Cubs, 2-1.
They only had two hits entering the ninth inning, but James Outman singled, followed by a double from fellow rookie Miguel Vargas. That set the stage for Peralta, who pinch-hit for Miguel Rojas, and singled through the right side for the Dodgers’ first runs of the ninth.
No. 42 WALKS IT OFF! pic.twitter.com/tINNsJT1fa— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 16, 2023
It was the first game for Peralta since Wednesday.
“I’m not going to lie. All the emotion and the adrenaline gets really high,” Peralta said. “I just took a deep breath and try to slow everything down.”
The on-again, off-again offense for the Dodgers has been mostly off of late, scoring two or fewer runs in three of their last four games, with Wednesday’s 10-run outburst in San Francisco sandwiched in between. Before this weekend, the Dodgers hadn’t been held to under five runs in consecutive games.
Cubs starter Taillon was the one doing the flummoxing on Saturday, striking out seven in his five innings. The Dodgers’ best chance at scoring off Taillon came in the second inning, after Vargas singled to open the frame.
Jason Heyward made two different speeches on Jackie Robinson Day, one before the game in front of the Robinson statue at Dodger Stadium, then again on the field to the crowd just before first pitch. Then he even made a stellar catch on the warning track in center field on the game’s first play.
Just when it looked like Heyward might have punctuated that with another home run, an old friend took his turn as the center of attention. Cody Bellinger, no stranger to the confines of Chavez Ravine, perfectly timed his jump and went over the wall to rob Heyward of a two-run shot.
But the funniest part was Bellinger’s reaction, shrugging his shoulders and putting his hands out to the crowd as the boos rained down.
"They used to love it when I did that."- @Cody_Bellinger, probably. pic.twitter.com/RVWTDUVIcG— MLB (@MLB) April 16, 2023
After the single by Vargas in the second inning, the Dodgers didn’t get another hit until the ninth, when they got three.
“It gets frustrating but as long as we stick to the approach, good things will happen,” Outman said. “They just came later today.”
Back in the saddle
Michael Grove needed a bounce-back start in the worst way after a pair of clunkers to open his 2023, but Roberts explained before the game why he was confident in the right-hander.
Grove was battling strep throat leading up to his first start on April 3, when he pitched scoreless baseball until giving up three runs in the fourth. Roberts said Grove was also dealing with remnants of the illness during his start last Sunday, when he allowed nine runs in 3⅓ innings.
“This is actually his first start where he’s been completely healthy physically as far as strength-wise,” Roberts said.
A completely healthy Grove delivered on the promise on Saturday, striking out six in 5⅔ innings, allowing only two hits and two walks. One of those hits was a home run, by Patrick Wisdom in the fifth inning, so Grove left the game trailing.
But it was great progress for Grove, who finished off five of his six strikeouts with the slider.
Because baseball can often be both hilarious and cruel at the same time, the Dodgers were presented with a similar scenario late in the game on Saturday, with a twist.
Down a run in the eighth inning on Friday, Roberts opted to use Andre Jackson, who they later found out was tipping his pitches en route to giving up five runs, including four home runs. Caleb Ferguson was an option, but Roberts didn’t bring him in, citing the upcoming schedule and not wanting to use high-leverage relievers in every chase situation.
Yency Almonte finished the seventh inning, but then loaded the bases in the eighth with out out. Naturally when he was pulled, Ferguson finally got his chance in the eighth inning, down a run, only in a much more precarious position.
But Ferguson was up to the challenge, striking out switch-hitter Ian Happ and right-hander Seiya Suzuki to escape damage.
Fire us up, Caleb. pic.twitter.com/XBHBaCwVX8— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) April 16, 2023
“It kind of told the team, ‘Hey, we’re in this. Let’s go scratch some runs across’,” Outman said.
“Everyone feels like you’ve still got to keep chipping away,” Ferguson said. “It’s still early (in the season)”
Home run: Patrick Wisdom (5)
WP — Shelby Miller (1-0): 1 IP, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
LP — Michael Fulmer (0-1): ⅔ IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 1 strikeout
The Dodgers go for the series win on Sunday afternoon (1:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network), with Julio Urías making his fourth start of the season. Left-hander Drew Smyly starts for Chicago.