LOS ANGELES -- In a clash of sizzling teams, the Dodgers won their Interleague series opener against the Royals Friday night at Dodger Stadium, 4-1, with winning starter Kenta Maeda scoring the go-ahead run and Yasiel Puig slugging a bat-flip homer for insurance.The Dodgers now have a four-game win streak
LOS ANGELES -- In a clash of sizzling teams, the Dodgers won their Interleague series opener against the Royals Friday night at Dodger Stadium, 4-1, with winning starter Kenta Maeda scoring the go-ahead run and Yasiel Puig slugging a bat-flip homer for insurance.
The Dodgers now have a four-game win streak after snapping Kansas City's four-game win streak. The Dodgers are 24-4 since June 7, while the Royals have the next-best record in MLB in that span at 19-9. The Dodgers need to win one of the next two games to become the first MLB team with at least 60 wins at the All-Star break since the 2003 Braves (61-32).
The Dodgers also have won 16 of their last 17 at home, raising their league-leading home record to 37-11.
"We love playing at home," said manager Dave Roberts. "It's always nice to have your fans and strategy plays into it too."
Despite recent inconsistency, Maeda raised his record to 7-3 and Roberts said the right-hander will be in the rotation when play resumes after the All-Star break. He allowed one run on four hits over five innings, which was a vast improvement from his last start in San Diego, when he allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings. Kansas City's only run came in the fourth inning on a two-out double by Final Vote All-Star Mike Moustakas and an RBI single by Alcides Escobar.
"The last start, the stuff wasn't there, it wasn't as sharp or crisp," said Roberts. "Tonight, the fastball had life to it and he really pitched well."
"We didn't create too many run scoring opportunities," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "We had one there in the fourth or the fifth and we didn't take advantage of it. But outside of that, we didn't do a good job."
The Dodgers took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the inning off Jason Hammel (4-8) after singles by Chase Utley and Maeda with two-out RBI singles by John Forsythe and Corey Seager. Puig's 16th home run in the sixth inning was projected by Statcast™ at 429 feet. Utley became the ninth active player with 1,000 RBIs when he doubled home Joc Pederson in the eighth inning.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
NL's best bullpen: Maeda was lifted after throwing 86 pitches in only five innings. But Dodgers relievers Josh Fields and Kenley Jansen sandwiched single scoreless innings around two from Brock Stewart to finish off the final four. It was All-Star Jansen's 21st save of the year. Stewart has allowed one hit in nine scoreless innings this year, but he probably will be optioned on Saturday when Brandon McCarthy is activated.
Two-way threat: Maeda was a key to the Dodgers' two-run fourth inning. His two-out single that bounced into left field extended the inning and he scored the go-ahead run from second on Seager's single with a slide into home ahead of right fielder Whit Merrifield's throw.
"He's a weapon up there, he doesn't give away at-bats," Roberts said of Maeda. "That was a big hit to keep the line moving."
"He commanded his pitches really well. He threw fastball, curveball in the zone and out of the zone when he needed to and he mixed it up. He threw the ball fantastic for them. Days like this, you've got to tip the hat to the pitcher." -- Moustakas, on Maeda
Royals: The Royals will give the ball to Ian Kennedy, who has won his last three starts after starting the season at 0-6. The righty has allowed six hits or fewer in his 15 starts and owns a 4.44 ERA. First pitch is slated for 6:15 p.m. CT.
Dodgers: Brandon McCarthy will return from the disabled list -- and his latest bout of the yips -- to start Saturday's 4:15 p.m. PT game against the Royals. McCarthy seemed to be over last year's control issues until his June 25 start against the Rockies, in which he had back-to-back walks and three wild pitches in three innings and was charged with five runs, four earned.
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Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.
Joshua Thornton is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.