ST. LOUIS -- Rich Hill pitched five innings of one-run ball and Chase Utley, Cody Bellinger and John Forsythe homered as the Dodgers topped the Cardinals, 5-1, to begin a four-game series at Busch Stadium.The win is the Dodgers' fifth in a row, tying their longest win streak this season.
ST. LOUIS -- Rich Hill pitched five innings of one-run ball and Chase Utley, Cody Bellinger and John Forsythe homered as the Dodgers topped the Cardinals, 5-1, to begin a four-game series at Busch Stadium.
The win is the Dodgers' fifth in a row, tying their longest win streak this season. Hill (2-2) got the win for his outing, his third start in five tries this year with five innings pitched and one earned run. From that point on, the bullpen did its job, pitching four innings of shutdown ball to extend its scoreless streak to 21 2/3 innings.
"Those guys did a heck of a job tonight with the bullpen," Hill said. "It's a reason why they're the best in baseball, so it's a lot of fun to see."
The Dodgers took control of the game in a two-run third inning with Utley's solo shot and a Corey Seager RBI single. They added on in the fourth, when Bellinger smashed a 3-0 sinker in the middle of the strike zone an estimated 429 feet to right with an exit velocity of 108.7 mph, according to Statcast™.
"No player will ever tell you that they're trying to hit a home run, and I think if you look at the at-bat quality, we're getting to leverage counts," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "And today, Cody hit a 3-0 homer, and yesterday [Enrique Hernandez] hit a 3-0 homer, and I think that we're getting into good counts to look for a pitch that we can do some damage with. And that's the sign of a good offense."
The Cardinals struggled to find early offense, as they were unable to get a baserunner until the fourth inning and struggled to capitalize with runners in scoring position in front of the 46,241 in attendance.
The lack of production was ill-timed, coming on a day when Mike Leake (5-3) struggled. The right-hander had posted quality starts in each of his nine outings in 2017, but he gave up four runs in seven innings as the Cardinals dropped their sixth straight series opener.
"I thought there were some good times, bad times, but for the most part I gave them a couple mistakes that they were ready for," Leake said. "It was a tough challenge today."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Just one: The Cardinals had their chances to cut into an early 3-0 deficit, first with two in scoring position and one out in the fourth inning and again with two on and nobody out in the fifth. However, the team managed one run between the two frames, which came on a sacrifice fly to left by Jedd Gyorko.
"Those are the days where we need offensively to pick [Leake] up, because he's been so shutdown," Matheny said after the game. "[He's] just going to have those starts every once in a while. We've got to help him out."
The Cards seemed poised to add another in the seventh, but Paul DeJong was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second after an error by Seager. The Dodgers capitalized on the mistake, as Sergio Romo struck out Greg Garcia to end the inning.
"I knew I had a chance. It got away from the shortstop," DeJong said. "[Bellinger] made a good throw. If he doesn't, I'm probably safe."
Game of inches: The Cards almost got out of the top of the third inning with just one Dodgers run on the board, as Seager hit a ground ball up the middle with one on and two out. Ranging to his right, DeJong dived at the ball, but he was unable to get there in time. Yasiel Puig scored from second as the ball rolled into center field, putting the Dodgers up, 2-0.
The Cardinals wouldn't score enough after that point to get back into the game, but Leake still took responsibility for the role he played in the outing. He noted he made a few mistakes and some others the Dodgers didn't capitalize on -- among the list was a cutter he left over the plate to Utley, which put the Dodgers on the board in the top of the third.
"He was pretty quick to that ball on that one," Leake said. "So I think it showed me he was pretty aggressive to that cutter coming into him, and I guess he was ready for it."
"We made some adjustments this week, mechanical adjustments, and proved to be successful and feel much more comfortable where I'm at now. Getting my hand out of my glove, getting timing down, and all that stuff was huge. You could see it today, it was much more crisp and clean, and the ball was coming out much more efficiently." -- Hill, on atoning for his poor outing against the Cardinals last week
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Bellinger's home run was his ninth in May, and it moved him into a first-place tie with Joc Pederson (May 2015) and James Loney (September 2007) for most homers by a Dodgers rookie in a calendar month. Bellinger, playing in just his 32nd game, became the fastest rookie in franchise history to reach 11 home runs. More >
Dodgers:Kenta Maeda (4-2, 5.08 ERA) will look to extend the team's five-game winning streak in the second game of the series at 4:05 p.m. PT on Tuesday at Busch Stadium. The right-hander will look to duplicate his winning effort from his last outing against the Cardinals in Los Angeles, when he allowed three runs in five innings.
Cardinals:Michael Wacha (2-2, 3.66 ERA) will get the ball for the second game of the series at 6:05 p.m. CT. The right-hander will have the chance to avenge his worst outing of the season, when he gave up six runs and lasted only four innings against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
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Scott Chasen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago and covered the Cardinals on Monday.
Joe Harris is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Louis who covered the Dodgers on Monday.