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Hill's 11-K gem, Dodgers' HRs doom Padres

July 2, 2017

SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers opened July slugging like they did throughout their record-setting June, but the way Rich Hill was dealing, one run would have sufficed.Back-to-back homers from Corey Seager and Justin Turner and yet another grand slam from Chris Taylor gave Hill plenty of support in an 8-0

SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers opened July slugging like they did throughout their record-setting June, but the way Rich Hill was dealing, one run would have sufficed.
Back-to-back homers from Corey Seager and Justin Turner and yet another grand slam from Chris Taylor gave Hill plenty of support in an 8-0 victory over the Padres on Saturday night. Over seven scoreless frames, Hill allowed four hits while striking out 11, a season high. 
Hill, having overcome finger blisters early in the season, simplified his mechanics with a modified windup two starts back and the result is 18 strikeouts in 14 innings. Hill said he made the change after management provided metrics demonstrating he was more effective pitching out of the stretch than a full windup.
"My mechanics seem to be in sync really well and the ball is coming out of my hand the way I want it to," Hill said. "Once you can repeat, you're able to command the zone a lot better. I feel like I'm over the rubber now, as opposed to a two- or three-part delivery. Now everything's going to the plate."

Hill got in on the act offensively, as well, with his first hit since 2009 and first career multihit game, the first hit driving in a run.
"The ball just found the bat, that was it. I don't think there was too much skill in there," he said. "It was fun to be on the bases and fun to contribute."
Not that the Dodgers, who set a record with 53 dingers in June, needed any help offensively. Seager's homer was his third hit of the night, and John Forsythe posted his second consecutive four-hit game. The early offense chased Padres starter Dillon Overton after 4 2/3 innings. In his debut with the club after being claimed off waivers last month, Overton allowed four runs on nine hits while striking out three.

Offensively, the Padres got two hits and a walk from center fielder Manuel Margot, who has been on tear since returning from a right calf strain earlier this week. But only two other batters would reach base.
"It's not a secret, if you look at numbers, we struggle against left-handed curveballs," said Padres manager Andy Green. "You're talking about one of the premier, if not the premier left-handed curveball in the game. So right out of the chute, it's a tough matchup for us. But we've got to do a better job of competing. I don't feel like we did that."
It was the Dodgers' 20th win in their last 23 games and their seventh in eight against the Padres this season.
Another slice of salami: After Seager and Turner had homered in the fifth, Taylor removed any doubt with two outs in the seventh. He launched a 2-1 fastball from Craig Stammen off the left-field scoreboard for his 10th homer of the season. Remarkably, three of those have come with the bases loaded, putting Taylor halfway to Don Mattingly's record of six slams in one season. After Austin Barnes did so on Friday, it was the Dodgers' second grand slam in as many nights and their seventh of the season, three more than anyone else in the Majors.
Taylor's slam adds to LA's homer binge

Hill can hit: Entering play Saturday night, Hill hadn't recorded a Major League hit since 2009 with Baltimore. Evidently, they come in bunches. With two outs and two on in the fourth, Hill bounced a grounder to shortstop. A sliding Erick Aybar couldn't handle it, and the Dodgers took a two-run lead. Two innings later, he would smack another single to left, but was stranded on third base.

"Sheer entertainment. You can't take your eyes off him. Guys in the dugout are laughing, he's crouched down in the box, trying to bunt, trying to slash. It looks like a big Little Leaguer up there having fun." -- Turner, on Hill's batting approach
"They were actually pretty good pitches. They just hit them. In a game like this, that happens." -- Overton, on the back-to-back home runs

With one out in the fourth, Padres catcher Austin Hedges hit a chopper that hugged the third-base line. Turner fielded the ball in foul ground and completed a throw to first base, unaware of what took place behind him. Third-base umpire Greg Gibson had initially raised his hands to signal foul, but he quickly adjusted to make a fair call. Hedges, noticing Gibson's initial signal, halted his sprint toward first and was out by 40 feet.
Padres manager Andy Green hopped quickly from the top step of the dugout and argued his case with Gibson. Had Hedges continued running, Green argued, he may have beaten Turner's throw. There was no change to the call, and the Padres were on their way to another scoreless inning.
"We weren't doing anything offensively today," Green said. "That call did not cost us the baseball game. It's an 8-0 baseball game. It's not even close to costing us a baseball game. We have to have better, competitive at-bats on a more consistent basis. That's the story of the game. Not one call that happened in the middle of a ballgame."

Dodgers:Kenta Maeda starts the 1:40 p.m. PT series finale Sunday coming off seven scoreless innings against the Angels Tuesday night. When he last pitched against San Diego on May 5, he allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits in five innings. He's improved recently with a more aggressive approach.
Padres:Jhoulys Chacin will be looking to carry his June success into July when the Padres and Dodgers wrap up their three-game set at 1:40 p.m. PT on Sunday. He reeled off five straight quality starts last month and has been brilliant at Petco Park all season, having posted a 1.83 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP at home.
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AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for since 2001.