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Joc thought it was out, and it was -- just barely

Pederson's HR clears fence for his first career walk-off blast
@kengurnick
April 16, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- Joc Pederson pointed into the Dodgers' dugout from the batter’s box. Former teammate Yasiel Puig barely moved in right field. Judging from the actions of the outfielders, you’d have thought that Pederson’s two-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning would have done better than

LOS ANGELES -- Joc Pederson pointed into the Dodgers' dugout from the batter’s box. Former teammate Yasiel Puig barely moved in right field.

Judging from the actions of the outfielders, you’d have thought that Pederson’s two-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth inning would have done better than barely clearing the right-field fence. But that was good enough for a 4-3 Dodgers comeback win over the Reds in Clayton Kershaw's season debut at Dodger Stadium on Monday night.

The Dodgers improved to 13-3 in games on Jackie Robinson Day.

The Reds had just taken a 3-2 lead with two outs in the top of the ninth on former Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp’s 0-2, broken-bat, RBI single off closer Kenley Jansen. But Cincinnati closer Raisel Iglesias walked pinch-hitter David Freese leading off the inning, and Pederson clubbed a hanging slider for his seventh homer of the year and the first walk-off homer of his career.

“My first one ever,” Pederson said. “All the times trying to do it, never doing it. Glad it worked out this time.”

“I saw [Pederson’s] reaction, and I thought, 'For sure it’s out,'” Kershaw said. “Then, it kind of almost didn’t quite get out. It was good, glad it got out. It was great.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had similar mixed emotions.

“The way Joc’s reaction was when he hit it, I thought it would be in the seats,” Roberts said. “Apparently, the heavy air, but it was just enough.”

Pederson has 12 RBIs and a 1.073 OPS in 17 games this season, and he has homered in each of his last three starts.

“He just comes up big in big moments,” Roberts said. “This closer, Iglesias, is one of the best in the game. Joc got a hanging breaking ball, stayed in there and walked him off. We kind of stole it from them.”

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