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Dodgers slug way to 12th straight win over Rox

Six homers (2 from Muncy) offset Buehler's rough night
@MannyOnMLB
June 28, 2019

DENVER -- “This is about as focused a team as I’ve had the last four years.” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has managed some pretty good teams, including the past two National League pennant winners. So when he spoke those words following his club’s 12-8 victory over the Rockies at Coors

DENVER -- “This is about as focused a team as I’ve had the last four years.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has managed some pretty good teams, including the past two National League pennant winners. So when he spoke those words following his club’s 12-8 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field on Thursday night, they held a lot of weight.

Box score

At various times this year, it’s been the Dodgers’ bullpen that has threatened to throw a blockade in the way of the speeding train the club has been riding during the first half of this season, destination: championship (or bust). Recently, it’s been the defense, too.

And in Thursday’s series opener, it was the screeching halt Walker Buehler’s magnificent June run came to, on a hot night in which the ball was flying better than Roberts said he’s ever seen in Colorado.

But as they’ve done all season to this point, the Dodgers found a way to win, even if it meant doing so in spite of themselves.

Buehler, who entered the game with a 0.87 ERA on the month and on the heels of a career-high 16 strikeouts in a complete-game masterpiece against the Rockies at Dodger Stadium last week, surrendered seven runs on a career-high 13 hits over 5 2/3 innings.

But that didn’t stop the Dodgers from slamming five home runs before Chris Taylor lobbed a go-ahead RBI single into shallow right field in the ninth inning off Rockies closer Wade Davis, and Enrique Hernández padded the lead with a pinch-hit, three-run homer two batters later.

The result of those heroics? The Dodgers’ 56th win of the season, and 12th straight over Colorado.

All-Star starter Cody Bellinger got the fireworks started by launching his 27th home run of the season in the second inning, with a little help from center fielder David Dahl, who inadvertently knocked the ball over the wall.

It was the opening salvo of a homer barrage that featured two instances in which the Dodgers went back-to-back -- Bellinger’s shot was followed by the first of two Max Muncy homers, and consecutive homers from Alex Verdugo and Justin Turner in the fifth.

Bellinger was candid about why the Dodgers keep rolling despite any deficiencies.

“Honestly, I think we’re so deep offensively, that no matter the deficit or the team we’re playing, we’re going to hit,” he said. “And if we’re not hitting, it’s not going to be for a long time.”

The Dodgers do mash. But can they simply bash their way through the rest of the regular season and October to reach that elusive title?

“I think you can poke holes in any club,” Roberts said. “But ultimately, it’s about winning baseball games, and we’ve won more than anyone in baseball. You’re always trying to get better, but from Day 1, there’s been no finger-pointing, whether it’s individually or certain parts of a club. The main thing is, we’re winning baseball games.”

When asked whether he thought Los Angeles’ front office would move to shore up the bullpen, which has been the only real weak spot on this club in 2019, Bellinger said he “would assume so, for sure,” with a confident demeanor befitting one of the front-runners for the NL MVP Award halfway through the season, but also a slugger at the center of a lineup that has masked the Dodgers’ flaws over that period.

Those flaws, particularly when they’re related to the relief corps, can wreak havoc on any team come postseason, when every pitch is magnified and can be the difference between advancing or being eliminated.

But for now, the Dodgers are doing the “main thing,” as Roberts called it: winning.

“It’s a fun team to be a part of,” Buehler said after enduring his laborious outing, “and it gives you a little more margin for error.”

On June 27, with a 13-game lead in the NL West, the margin for error is larger than it will be in October. But for now, the Dodgers are right where they want to be.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.