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Pitching win then soccer intro for McCarthy

MLB.com @kengurnick

PHOENIX -- Brandon McCarthy pitched seven innings Sunday, won a game over his former Arizona team, 6-2, restored order for the Dodgers pitching staff and even triggered a six-run inning with a leadoff walk.

Then Sunday night, when the team flew to San Francisco, McCarthy stayed back for the official introduction of international star Didier Drogba, the newest member of the Phoenix Rising soccer club partly owned by McCarthy.

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PHOENIX -- Brandon McCarthy pitched seven innings Sunday, won a game over his former Arizona team, 6-2, restored order for the Dodgers pitching staff and even triggered a six-run inning with a leadoff walk.

Then Sunday night, when the team flew to San Francisco, McCarthy stayed back for the official introduction of international star Didier Drogba, the newest member of the Phoenix Rising soccer club partly owned by McCarthy.

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A longtime fan of Liverpool in the English Premier League, McCarthy aligning with the former Chelsea star Drogba is a little like the Dodgers rolling into San Francisco with Sergio Romo in their bullpen. Sports can be strange like that.

Just as unpredictable is that McCarthy (3-0, 2.25 ERA), whose last two years were destroyed by Tommy John surgery and then the yips, would now be the starting pitcher manager Dave Roberts mentions alongside Clayton Kershaw at the top of a rotation missing Rich Hill and Scott Kazmir, with Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu struggling.

"We needed it," Roberts said of McCarthy's seven innings with six strikeouts, his longest outing since before his 2015 surgery. "When you have Clayton the ace, to have another guy to go alongside him to give the bullpen a day and reset our guys going into San Francisco, we're right on track."

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The Dodgers had lost five of their previous six, were two games below .500 for the first time this year and were trying to avoid being swept in a three-game series at Chase Field for the first time since 2008. The bullpen had been so taxed the previous two games that the Dodgers expanded it to eight Sunday morning by recalling Adam Liberatore.

"Getting deep was a priority," said McCarthy, who allowed a two-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt in the first inning. "The first couple hitters, I was just not commanding the ball very well. I got a grip on what I was doing and the ball started going where I wanted it to."

Arizona didn't get a runner past first base against him after the first inning.

"He's just got a good look in his eye," said Roberts. "I like the word relentless. He's relentless. He was pounding the strike zone, he had confidence in his entire mix, he's aggressive, and I love his tempo."

McCarthy said he took advantage of the D-backs' aggressive hitters and was able to induce seven groundouts. And as much as he was looking forward to his soccer owner gig for Drogba's intro, he's definitely keeping the day job, especially after having it taken away the past two years.

"This is the priority, that's my secondary life," McCarthy said of the difference between baseball and soccer. "That's going to be a very cool thing, really fun to be part of. It would have been a lot less fun if today hadn't gone like this."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Brandon McCarthy