ATLANTA – Are the Dodgers a home run hitting team that wins, or a winning team that hits home runs?
Take your pick again on Friday night as they set another record with four homers in an 8-3 comeback win over the Braves in a potential postseason preview at sold-out SunTrust Park.
The Dodgers have hit 22 home runs in the last five games, setting an MLB record for a five-game stretch. They extended their record of hitting at least four homers a game to five consecutive games.
Cody Bellinger hit his MLB-leading 41st -- his fourth in the past five games. Max Muncy turned the game around with a classic seventh-inning at-bat ending with his 30th home run, a mark he hit for the second consecutive year. Justin Turner immediately followed with his 22nd, a franchise-record 14th time the Dodgers have gone back to back. And rookie Will Smith’s two-run shot that hit the foul pole gave him 10 in only 25 games.
“I guess the numbers don’t lie -- we do hit the ball out of the ballpark,” said manager Dave Roberts. “I still stand by the fact our bat quality is as good as there is in the big leagues.”
Muncy’s lefty-vs.-lefty at-bat against reliever Sean Newcomb underscores the belief. With two out and two on and the Dodgers trailing by a run, Muncy fell behind, 0-2, on a pair of sliders, took another for a ball, fouled off a 97-mph fastball, then launched another slider over the left-center fence.
“He started me with the two breaking balls, and at that point I figured that was their plan of attack,” said Muncy. “I fouled off the heater, and in my mind I went back to the spin, figuring that would be what he’d try and it kind of popped out of his hand, didn’t go where he wanted it to and I got the barrel on it.”
Muncy agreed with the manager in defending his lineup as good hitters, not just sluggers.
“I think we’re a pretty complete club all around,” Muncy said. “Obviously the home runs are what you notice, but if you look at the at-bats before the home run, very good at-bats. Before the home run, A.J. [Pollock] went in, pinch-hit single, that’s hard to do. [Kyle] Garlick had a pinch-hit walk, which is extremely hard to do. Not trying to do too much.”
That said, for someone who had to resurrect his career a little over a year ago, Muncy was asked how proud he is to have scaled the 30-homer mark again, becoming the first Dodgers slugger since Shawn Green in 2001-02 with back-to-back seasons of at least 30.
“[It means] a lot,” Muncy said smiling. “It’s a cool number to me. It’s fun. It just means a lot to me from where I came from not too long ago. It’s really fun.”
And Muncy said the win Friday serves as an initial salvo against the Braves -- a club that the Dodgers have dominated in recent years, eliminated from the postseason last year and could face again this October. The Dodgers swept the Braves at home in May and are 27-10 against Atlanta since the start of the 2014 season.
“It’s a good checkmark to see where we’re at and understanding knowing we may face them in the postseason,” Muncy said, “noticing how they play the game and pay attention to what they try to do and keep that in your memory.”
Braves starter Mike Soroka, who allowed Bellinger’s blast, cautioned his club not to be intimidated by the Dodgers.
"Sometimes, I think we might give them a little too much credit,” Soroka said. “They’ve got some great hitters and they might have the MVP over there. You’ve got to be careful with that, but at the same time, they’re not invincible. They’re still getting out 70 percent of the time. It’s about making pitches."