Bench players make most of opportunity
Guerrero, Hernandez, Van Slyke all contribute to Dodgers win
LOS ANGELES -- On a team that features a nearly $300 million payroll, it was the role players who stepped up for the Dodgers on Friday night.
The Dodgers trotted out a starting lineup featuring three reserves, all of whom were instrumental in the club's 5-3 win over the Angels at Dodger Stadium.
Alex Guerrero got the nod at third base and hit a home run. Kiké Hernandez made his fifth start of the season in center field and reached base three times, going 2-for-3. Scott Van Slyke, making his 30th start of the season, contributed with a double, scoring a run and providing protection for Adrian Gonzalez by hitting cleanup.
After Howie Kendrick hit a solo home run in the first inning, the bottom of the order gave starting pitcher Zack Greinke, amble support to earn his 10th win of the season.
Following a Yasmani Grandal single, Guerrero launched his first home run since June 2 in the fourth inning to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead. Then in the fifth, the Dodgers strung three straight hits together to tack on two more runs and push the lead to five. With Greinke and his Major League-leading 1.41 ERA on the mound, that was more than enough run support.
"If you can keep adding on, it keeps adding nails in the coffin," manager Don Mattingly said. "It makes it tougher for them because you've got Zack out there and you're up three, four, you don't feel like he's going to get beat up. He might a run or two, but he's not going to get beat up."
Guerrero had been stuck behind the red-hot Justin Turner at third base, and Alberto Callaspo fills the need for a matchup third baseman on days where Turner's ailing knees need rest. With those two above him on the depth chart, Guerrero had been left as a pinch-hitter. He has the fourth most at-bats and hits in the Majors as a pinch-hitter.
However, entering today's game, Guerrero had been in a 1-for-19 slump in July, with only two starts in that duration. His average has declined with each month, as his appearances and starts have declined from May to July.
"He's really been in a tough spot. He hasn't played regularly," Mattingly said. "Any time guys aren't getting at-bats consistently, it's tough. So what's going on with him isn't a huge surprise because his at-bats were coming one at a time and that's tough."
The Dodgers placed Turner on the disabled list with a skin infection on his right thigh Friday, so Guerrero's at-bats will become much more regular at least for the near future.
"Now he's going to be three or four, at least pretty consistently, not saying that he's going to play every day," Mattingly said. "That really helps guys."