LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers salvaged Sunday's finale against the Houston Astros, 3-2, to avoid suffering a series sweep in a rematch of the dramatic 2017 World Series.James Dozier had a two-run double in the first inning and Cody Bellinger's RBI double in the third inning was the difference as
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers salvaged Sunday's finale against the Houston Astros, 3-2, to avoid suffering a series sweep in a rematch of the dramatic 2017 World Series.
James Dozier had a two-run double in the first inning and Cody Bellinger's RBI double in the third inning was the difference as Walker Buehler (5-4) outdueled Gerrit Cole (10-4), striking out eight in 5 1/3 innings, as the Dodgers moved back into a first-place tie with Arizona.
The Dodgers finished the homestand 3-4 and went 9-8 coming out of the All-Star break with 17 games against playoff-caliber teams in 17 days.
Buehler allowed home runs to George Springer and Tony Kemp (Buehler's former Vanderbilt teammate), but notched his first win since June 8 in a season disrupted by injury and innings limitations.
"I was asking Walker how he pitches and he said, 'A lot like [Justin] Verlander.' He grew up watching Verlander and wanting to be like him," said Dozier. "His style is very similar. I was impressed. I like how he competes."
Buehler said he's ditched the spike curveball he's thrown since Tommy John surgery for a traditional curve. Buehler made 91 pitches and Roberts said he sensed fatigue and went to the bullpen when a double play was needed.
"It was kind of sporadic, a lot of big misfires we can work on, but made some big pitches when I needed to and we got out of there with the win," said Buehler. "It's a big series and they played well the last two days. It has to be a big series, that's the nature of the beast. They were world champions last year and we came in second. Especially here, we want to play well and we didn't play the way we wanted the past two days, so to get a win is big."
Dozier delicately sidestepped a question about comparing the Dodgers and Astros, but also noted that Houston was missing two of its best players in the series, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa. Compounding that, Lance McCullers injured his elbow Saturday night and World Series MVP Springer left Sunday's game after injuring his left thumb.
"It was unique seeing both those two guys [Altuve and Correa] not able to play," he said. "All in all they are banged up a little bit, but we got the last one."
Springer needed only one pitch to continue tormenting the Dodgers. He launched Buehler's first pitch of the game 452 feet for his 19th home run.
"It was 96, it was down and he clipped it," said Buehler.
Springer nearly made a spectacular diving catch in the bottom of the first on Dozier's double on a 3-2 curveball, but didn't make it out of the third inning, injuring his left thumb when caught trying to steal second base with a hands-first slide. He had to leave the game.
"The big two-out well-placed double by Dozier, you have to look at positioning and softer contact and well-placed," said Houston manager AJ Hinch. "It was a 3-2 count and a lot that led up to that 3-2 count. We were a little unfortunate and little unlucky."
After Dozier drove in two runs in the first, the Dodgers added to their lead in the bottom of the third when Manny Machado singled and was doubled home by Bellinger. Kemp homered in the fifth inning to cut the Dodgers' lead to 3-2. Jake Marisnick, who replaced Springer, robbed Taylor of a home run by reaching over the center-field fence for the catch to end the sixth inning.
Dylan Floro, Scott Alexander and Kenley Jansen allowed one hit over 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Floro and Alexander induced double-play grounders.
"Baseball right now, you get a lot of guys with velocity up in the zone, but to go against it and have guys that can put the ball on the ground and you trust your defense to get a double play, that's big," said Roberts.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Jansen was credited with his 31st save, but Floro made the biggest pitch for the Dodgers. He took over for Buehler with two on and one out in the sixth inning and got J.D. Davis to bounce into an inning-ending double play, shortstop Chris Taylor ranging far into the hole to get it started. Floro also pitched a scoreless seventh inning, giving him five shutout innings of relief on the homestand.
"It was a tough turn," Roberts said of the Taylor-Dozier-Muncy DP.
Matt Kemp, who led the league in batting in early June, is in a 1-for-40 slump. Player Page for Max Muncy is 3-for-29 with 17 strikeouts, including three on Sunday
HE SAID IT
"Yeah, I'll hear about it. But we won." -- Buehler, on the home run he allowed to Kemp, his former college teammate
After a day off on Monday, the Dodgers open a two-game set in Oakland on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. PT, with Rich Hill opposing Sean Manaea. Hill, acquired from Oakland by the Dodgers in 2016, has been on a roll since late May, dropping his ERA from 6.20 to 3.63, and has allowed only two earned runs in his last 20 innings. Justin Turner and slumping Matt Kemp are expected to return to the lineup.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.