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Bellinger robs Yelich, then wins it with homer

Joc, after his own 2-HR day: 'There's not much Belly can't do'
@kengurnick
April 21, 2019

MILWAUKEE -- From somewhere underneath Cody Bellinger’s long shadow, Joc Pederson has had an unobstructed view of the amazing start of his amazing teammate. “There’s not much Belly can’t do,” Pederson said, after Pederson’s two-homer birthday took a back seat to another brilliant display of talent from Bellinger, who robbed

MILWAUKEE -- From somewhere underneath Cody Bellinger’s long shadow, Joc Pederson has had an unobstructed view of the amazing start of his amazing teammate.

“There’s not much Belly can’t do,” Pederson said, after Pederson’s two-homer birthday took a back seat to another brilliant display of talent from Bellinger, who robbed 2018 National League MVP Christian Yelich of an eighth-inning homer with his glove, then slugged a game-winning blast off Josh Hader in the ninth for a wild 6-5 win.

"What him and Yelich are both doing is very, very special,” said starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw. “It's crazy. Just watching them play, you don't see how it's going to slow down. Just what they do, really all the way around ... it's pretty special."

The Dodgers didn’t spray beer or champagne like the last time they won a series at Miller Park, but this was not an insignificant achievement, winning three of four against the Brewers and beating Hader twice, on home runs by Bellinger and Enrique Hernandez.

“In the end, their best player got our best pitcher, and that’s the game,” said Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell.

Bellinger’s game-winner came in the top of the ninth inning, moments after Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, pitching for the fourth time in five days, had come on for a four-out save opportunity, only to serve up a three-run homer to pinch-hitter Eric Thames.

Four batters before that home run, it looked like Yelich had hit one off Pedro Baez, but Bellinger raced to right-center and pulled a goaltending, reaching over the fence to bring it back.

“I thought it was a home run -- it was a home run,” said Pederson. “I think that’s all he [Yelich] hits right now. Belly caught it. It was awesome.”

Maybe not so awesome from the other side of the field, although the level of play is so high in the head-to-head duel between Bellinger and Yelich that even the loser can appreciate the performances.

“Bellinger and Yelich have been playing outstanding baseball,” said Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain, who homered in the fifth inning and robbed Justin Turner of extra bases in the fourth. “Both sides of the ball. That’s nice to see -- two really good players.”

Bellinger said that head-to-head competition is total fun.

“He’s a great dude, as well. A great player and a great person,” Bellinger said of Yelich. “Hopefully, we can keep it going.”

Bellinger was asked what part of the day he enjoyed the most, the offense -- where he finished 3-for-4 with three RBIs and a stolen base -- or the defense, and responded like a typical 23-year-old.

“We’re going to eat some pizza in a few moments, so probably that. I’m pretty hungry, honestly,” he said.

As for the catch, Bellinger said he knew it was hit hard, but it angled high enough for him to get under it, so he raced to the wall in case there was a play.

“One of those, so high in the air, you get to the wall and try to time the jump,” he said.

As for the homer off Hader, who struck out Bellinger on Friday night, he took a slider for a called strike one and fouled off another slider to fall behind, 0-2. A 95-mph fastball went for a ball and then came another slider.

“Against him, you literally just want to put it in play and see what you can do,” Bellinger said. “He just threw that one worse than the first two, and better for me, and I just tried to put the barrel to it.”

Bellinger said beating Hader isn’t easy, but it’s not a fluke.

“Altogether, I just think we do a great job of putting together quality at-bats no matter who is on the mound because I don’t think we shy away no matter who is on the mound,” he said. “We just battle our butt off against any pitcher.”

The win went to Jansen, who struck out the side in the ninth, but afterward was still kicking himself for not throwing a slider to Thames.

Over the first six innings, it seemed Kershaw was headed for his first victory of 2019. He didn’t allow a hit until Orlando Arcia’s triple leading off the fifth inning, which was followed by Cain’s high fly that hit the top of the left-center-field fence and bounced over for a homer. Those were the only hits allowed over six innings by Kershaw, who walked four and struck out seven, moving past Don Drysdale on the all-time Los Angeles strikeout list with 2,288 for his career, now trailing only Don Sutton (2,696).

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