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Max Muncy makes both Dodgers hits count to beat Reds

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MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers managed only two hits, but Max Muncy made them count with two home runs, driving in all the runs in a 3-2 win over the Reds on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

Muncy’s game-winner came in the sixth inning on a 3-0 count off Luke Weaver, who entered the game with a 7.20 ERA, but allowed nothing else except two home runs to Muncy.

Muncy has been synonymous with patience ever since joining the Dodgers in 2018. Patience at the plate, with his 4.36 pitches per plate appearance entering Sunday ranked third in the majors. Patience when hearing fans and/or texting relatives bemoan why the Dodgers are starting someone with a batting average that begins with a one.

Even patience in the form of of Muncy’s 56 walks and team-leading 15.6-percent walk rate, fueling his above-average .333 on-base percentage despite the .199 batting average.

Or perhaps even Muncy himself needed patience, if he was paying attention at all to multiple reports this week about the Dodgers and Cardinals discussing a possible Nolan Arenado trade. Not that Muncy couldn’t have adapted, as he moved off first base when the Dodgers signed Freddie Freeman before the 2022 season.

Whether Muncy knew or not, Cardinals general manager John Mozielak saying unequivocally earlier Saturday that Arenado would not be traded, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, at the very least ended that speculation.

Spencer Steer’s error at third base to open the game allowed David Peralta — leading off while Mookie Betts is sidelined with right ankle soreness — to reach base. Two outs later, Muncy homered to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

Muncy on the season has 27 home runs, tied with Betts for both the team lead and third place in the National League, and now sports a well-above-average 122 wRC+.

After five scoreless innings by Emmet Sheehan, Caleb Ferguson came up on the reliever roulette wheel to have the uncharacteristically shaky outing. He allowed two singles, a double, and a walk while recording only two outs in the sixth inning. Ferguson allowed two runs, then left in a tie game.

Joe Kelly made his return to the Dodgers official by getting thrown into leverage right away and offering the full Joe Kelly experience. With two runners on and two out, he threw a wild pitch to advance them both, then issued a walk to load the bases, before striking out Christian Encarnacion-Strand looking to escape further damage.

The Dodgers used Brusdar Graterol and Evan Phillips to cover the final three innings. Graterol worked around a single to record five outs, then Phillips got the final four outs for his second save of the year of longer than one inning.

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Max Muncy 2 (27)

WP — Joe Kelly (2-5): ⅓ IP, 1 walk, 1 strikeout

LP — Luke Weaver (2-3): 6 IP, 2 hits, 3 runs (1 earned), 2 walks, 2 strikeouts

Sv — Evan Phillips (13): 1⅓ IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout

Up next

The Dodgers go for the series win on Sunday afternoon (1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), with Michael Grove on the mound against Graham Ashcraft.