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Dodgers return to form, cut magic number to 2

Homers by Seager, Beaty back combined shutout of Giants
@kengurnick
September 8, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- It’s hard to tell the starters from the relievers and the infielders from the outfielders with the Dodgers, but one constant is that when they slug, they win. After being blanked on Saturday night, the Dodgers resumed both on Sunday afternoon with home runs from Corey Seager

LOS ANGELES -- It’s hard to tell the starters from the relievers and the infielders from the outfielders with the Dodgers, but one constant is that when they slug, they win.

After being blanked on Saturday night, the Dodgers resumed both on Sunday afternoon with home runs from Corey Seager and Matt Beaty in a 5-0 win over the Giants that avoided a series sweep and cut the magic number for clinching the National League West title to two. The home runs extended the club’s NL record to 255.

Box score

Seager, in a 3-for-22 skid at the time, crushed a three-run home run in the fifth inning. Beaty’s two-run shot in the fourth off Dereck Rodriguez snapped a drought of 12 consecutive scoreless innings for the offense. It was Seager’s 14th home run, Beaty’s ninth.

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As for the starters and relievers, it’s complicated. Julio Urías made his second start since returning from suspension, lasted two innings and 43 pitches without showing his customary velocity. After the game, manager Dave Roberts said Urias was going back to the bullpen, an about-face from the previous plan to stretch him out so he could be an October rotation option.

“We’re going to do some things,” Roberts said. “For right now, Julio will be down a few days then back on line in Baltimore. As we look out, three [innings] and 45 [pitches] is a good number for us.”

Urias said he’s fine with any role, but concedes it’s getting late to stretch out for a starting role.

“It’s a little hard, considering the timing, but if they gave me that responsibility, with work and preparation it can be done,” Urias said.

Kenta Maeda, bumped from the rotation to make room for Urias, pitched four innings in relief, allowing no runs on one hit with six strikeouts. Before the game, Roberts said that although Maeda would pitch the bulk of the innings on Sunday, he was still viewed as a high-leverage short reliever for the postseason.

“Kenta’s a pro,” said Roberts. “For him to concede that starting spot for the benefit of the club and to pitch in a role he’s really good at, [even though] he’s a Major League starter, speaks a lot to his character.”

Urias could be getting bumped from the rotation because he’s been an effective weapon out of the bullpen and Rich Hill has rebounded from a three-month left forearm injury to become an option.

The Dodgers also have been rotating six starters, but they are in a 19-day stretch that includes five days off. It’s now close enough to October that the real rotation needs to get into a normal rhythm.

Lately, there has been no rhythm. The last 11 Dodgers starters went fewer than six innings and the last five fewer than five innings. In the last five games, they Dodgers have gone to the bullpen 26 times. Hyun-Jin Ryu is being skipped this turn through the rotation, and Walker Buehler is being given two extra days of rest. Clayton Kershaw has lost his last three decisions.

Maeda was the first of five relievers on Sunday to combine for seven scoreless innings on one hit. That included a five-pitch inning from Casey Sadler and Yimi Garcia appearing for a third consecutive day.

“On the pitching side, the story was Kenta,” said Roberts. “His aggressiveness from the first pitch was evident. When he knows we’re not expecting 90-100 pitches, he can let the tank out. Everything plays up.”

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