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Mookie Betts homers twice to back Clayton Kershaw, power Dodgers over Yankees

Betts reached base 5 times with 4 hits and a walk

MLB: Washington Nationals at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Mookie Betts ushered in a home run barrage for the Dodgers to pummel the Yankees 8-4 in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

Betts hit two home runs and reached base five times in his first four-hit game of the season.

Yankees right-hander Luis Severino made only his third start since missing the first six weeks of the season with a right lat strain, and the Dodgers jumped on him in the opening frame. Betts hit a leadoff home run for a second straight game, then three batters late Max Muncy hit a two-run shot to the opposite field. But that only accounted for half the runs in the inning.

Four consecutive singles followed the Muncy homer for one run, then Miguel Rojas’ sacrifice fly brought home another. Betts’ second hit of the inning was an RBI single. Yankees catcher Jose Trevino capped the Dodgers scoring at six runs by picking off James Outman at third base to end the rally.

Six runs in one inning was one shy of the Dodgers’ season high, set in the fifth inning on April 3 at Coors Field. Los Angeles also plated six runs in the second inning in last Sunday’s wild one at Tropicana Field against the Rays.

Betts added another solo shot in the sixth inning, giving him two home runs for a second straight game.

He’s just the 11th player in Dodgers history with consecutive multi-homer games. The first to do so was Babe Herman in 1930 (you might remember him from various Freddie Freeman feats during May), and the last, before Betts, was Joc Pederson in 2019.

No Dodger has ever hit multiple home runs in three straight games. Yet.

All that offense gave Clayton Kershaw breathing room, a rarity for him when facing the Yankees. The left-hander was his sharpest in about three weeks, striking out nine in seven innings. Both the innings and strikeouts matched season highs for Kershaw, the fourth time for each.

He allowed solo home runs to Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton, both of whom were activated off the injured list for this series. Those were the only runs given up by Kershaw on Friday.

Kershaw earned his first career win against the Yankees in five starts, even though he owns a 1.85 ERA against them. The eight runs scored by the Dodgers on Friday were just one shy of the total runs of support Kershaw received in his first four starts against New York.

His eighth strikeout of the night came against Aaron Judge in the sixth inning, Judge’s second strikeout of the night to go with a double play off Kershaw. The slider that fanned Judge for the second time was the 40,000th pitch of Kershaw’s career. He’s just the fifth active pitcher to throw that many pitches, behind Zack Greinke, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Adam Wainwright.

Designated to hit

J.D. Martinez followed Muncy’s home run in the first with a check-swing dribbler in no man’s land up the third base line for an infield single to extend his hitting streak to 16 games. In the third inning he blasted one over the center field wall, his eighth home run in his last 12 games.

For Martinez, who leads the National League with a .627 slugging percentage this season, that was his 13th home run on the season, which was notable for another reason.

A new angle

Friday night was Jason Heyward’s 1,488th career start in the outfield, the vast majority (87 percent) of those coming in right field, a position where he won five Gold Glove Awards. But Heyward was in left field in the series opener for the first time in his major league career.

Heyward told Juan Toribio of before the game that his last game in left field came in spring training in 2009. That was on March 4 that year for the Braves, six months before Heyward’s 20th birthday, also against the Yankees. Heyward also played in left field on March 1, 2009 during spring training. Before that, his played one inning at the position for Class-A Rome in the South Atlantic League on May 23, 2008.

Heyward at the plate singled and scored in the six-run first inning, and later doubled. He only had one fielding chance in left field, catching a flyball from Giancarlo Stanton in the second inning.

Friday particulars

Home runs: Mookie Betts 2 (15), Max Muncy (18), J.D. Martinez (13); Josh Donaldson 2 (3), Giancarlo Stanton (5)

WP — Clayton Kershaw (7-4): 7 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts

LP — Luis Severino (0-1): 4 IP, 9 hits, 7 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts

Up next

Michael Grove will be activated off the injured list to start on Saturday afternoon (4:15 p.m., Fox), facing Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. Joe Davis and John Smoltz will call the game for Fox.