LOS ANGELES -- It's almost a theatrical prerequisite to being a Dodger: When performing in the shadow of the Hollywood sign, you learn to play to the moment.So, who should be surprised on Saturday night that Joc Pederson would homer on his 26th birthday, that Cody Bellinger would homer on
LOS ANGELES -- It's almost a theatrical prerequisite to being a Dodger: When performing in the shadow of the Hollywood sign, you learn to play to the moment.
So, who should be surprised on Saturday night that Joc Pederson would homer on his 26th birthday, that Cody Bellinger would homer on his Bobblehead Night, or that Kiké Hernandez would homer off Stephen Strasburg as a pinch-hitter in the Dodgers' 4-0 win over the Nationals?
"Milestone days for those guys," manager Dave Roberts said.
Even Hyun-Jin Ryu got into the act, outdueling Strasburg by allowing two hits in seven innings to get the Dodgers even in this series after Max Scherzer outdueled Clayton Kershaw Friday night. And the real Kenley Jansen finally surfaced, firing 96-mph cutters for the first time this season.
• Ryu rolls to 3-0 with 8-K gem vs. Nationals
Pederson's contribution was especially noteworthy, as it took the versatile Chris Taylor to move from center field to second base just to get Pederson in the lineup in center.
Roberts was peppered with pregame questions about starting Pederson and his .176 batting average against Strasburg. Pederson was victim of two of Strasburg's 10 strikeouts, but his home run in the second inning -- his first regular-season homer since July 26 -- proved Roberts' point.
"I really wanted to make sure Joc got in there and stayed current," said Roberts. "The homer was huge to get on the board. He had another hit late. He had two punches, but his at-bat quality was good, and he's swinging at strikes in the zone."
Roberts said he joked pregame with Bellinger about slugging a Bobblehead Night homer, not realizing that Bellinger went 0-for-5 on the occasion last year. Bellinger's blast came in the eighth off reliever Carlos Torres.
"It's always nice on a Bobblehead day, extra special," said Bellinger. "Facing starters like Scherzer and Strasburg is not fun offensively. Grind out all those at-bats. So, it's nice to get a win. They expect to win when those guys start, like we do with Kershaw on the mound."
Hernandez came into the game batting .222 and, like Pederson, spending most of his time on the bench. He was sent up to bat for Ryu with two out in the seventh, after Strasburg had fanned five consecutive batters.
"It's a good feeling," said Hernandez. "Not only is he an elite pitcher, but they have a great team. We didn't get off to a great start this year, but we're playing better now. We're still the same team. We're still confident. We're getting back on track."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Escape: Ryu's closest call came in the third inning, when Trea Turner singled with one out and two-out walks to Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman loaded the bases. But Ryu got Moises Sierra on a grounder to shortstop Corey Seager, who made the long throw from the hole to first in time.
HE SAID IT
"It was time that some things started falling." -- Pederson
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Dodgers pitchers already have combined on four shutouts this season.
Alex Wood gets the start against the Nationals at 5 PT on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. The lefty was back in charge against the Padres in his last outing, after getting whacked by the A's while still feeling the effects of food poisoning his outing prior. Chase Utley is expected to be back at second base against Nats starter Jeremy Hellickson after sitting against Stephen Strasburg on Saturday night.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.