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Dodgers set HR record, rally for comeback win

Hernandez hits leadoff homer; Freese delivers big hit
@kengurnick
April 4, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers can double, too. After Enrique Hernández hit a leadoff home run to give the Dodgers a homer in each of their first seven games -- a franchise record -- David Freese hit a two-run double in the seventh inning to key a 5-3 comeback win

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers can double, too.

After Enrique Hernández hit a leadoff home run to give the Dodgers a homer in each of their first seven games -- a franchise record -- David Freese hit a two-run double in the seventh inning to key a 5-3 comeback win over the Giants on Wednesday night in the rubber match of their three-game series at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers are 5-2 through their first seven games and were two bullpen meltdowns shy of a perfect homestand. They won with home runs, for sure, but there’s more to the team this year.

“For a few years now, we’ve known that we can hit home runs and we can outslug people, but there’s going to be certain games -- especially in the playoffs -- that we need to do little things, hit with runners in scoring position, move guys over, take what the pitchers give us,” Hernandez said. “That’s what we preached all spring long, and we’re taking it to heart, taking it seriously on a daily basis and trying to improve on a daily basis, and having some success so far.”

Hernandez had one of Los Angeles' four doubles, but Freese’s game-winner had added significance because it came off a right-handed pitcher, hard-throwing Reyes Moronta, in a situation where manager Dave Roberts could have sent up left-handed pinch-hitter Max Muncy, with lefty Tony Watson warming up in the Giants' bullpen.

“I saw the right-handed at-bats prior, and the slider didn’t affect our right-handers tonight,” Roberts said. “Typically for me, spin away, lefty-lefty or righty-righty is kind of a red flag. I just felt with David, Moronta was stressed and I wanted to force their hand to keep the righty in there and go deeper into the game.”

Freese, who the Dodgers acquired last August, hasn’t been with the team long, but long enough that he admitted he peeked into the dugout to see if he would be called back for a pinch-hitter. He said he wasn’t completely surprised he was allowed to face Moronta.

Freese got a 2-2 fastball down and over the plate and sent it off the fence in right-center field to score Austin Barnes, who hustled to a leadoff double, and Hernandez, who had walked. Freese had struck out his two previous career at-bats against Moronta.

“I don’t think this is going to be like the postseason last year,” Freese said. “We’re going to have matchups that might not be the best matchups, but they’re thinking through where the game’s at and where it’s headed and we’re going to get ABs and whoever hits has got to get in there and go to work.”

So, it turns out matchups dictate Roberts’ decisions, until they don’t. That, in part, is why Cody Bellinger and Hernandez are virtually everyday starters no matter which hand the opposing pitcher uses.

“For me, that’s the biggest difference, knowing that I don’t need to get three or four hits to play the next day,” said Hernandez, who has three home runs this season. “It’s easier to make adjustments. Sometimes you’re just trying to play to earn more playing time. Play every day and you can trust the process. Doc said in Spring Training there wouldn’t be as much platooning and so far, it’s been good and it gives us the confidence to go out there and play the game without looking back to see if they’re bringing somebody in for you. It’s been a fun week so far.”

Freese not only doubled in two runs, but he walked one batter after Hernandez’s first-inning homer and scored from second base on Bellinger’s bouncer up the middle against the shift. Second baseman Joe Panik backhanded the ball in shallow center and made an off-balance throw home on the run.

Freese barely avoided catcher Erik Kratz’s swipe tag attempt.

“I think my fat [rear] just got around him,” Freese said.

Dodgers starter Ross Stripling allowed three runs over 6 1/3 innings, while Scott Alexander earned the win in relief and Kenley Jansen notched his second save in as many games.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.