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Hill's solid Oakland return puts LA back in first

August 8, 2018

OAKLAND -- Grant Holmes is working his way back from a torn rotator cuff and hasn't pitched this year. Jharel Cotton missed the season with Tommy John surgery. Frankie Montas has split time between Oakland and Triple-A.But 38-year-old Rich Hill -- who was acquired with Josh Reddick from the A's

OAKLAND -- Grant Holmes is working his way back from a torn rotator cuff and hasn't pitched this year. Jharel Cotton missed the season with Tommy John surgery. Frankie Montas has split time between Oakland and Triple-A.
But 38-year-old Rich Hill -- who was acquired with Josh Reddick from the A's two years ago for those three pitching prospects -- is still rolling along. Facing the A's on Tuesday night for the first time since the trade, Hill put the Dodgers in position for a 4-2 win and a return to first place in the National League West. With Seattle's loss, Oakland maintains its two-game lead for the second American League Wild Card spot.
Hill took a one-hitter into the sixth and was charged with two runs in 5 1/3 innings. Khris Davis' 32nd home run, and 11th in the last 15 games, ended Hill's night, as the pitch count swelled to 91 from four walks.
"I can pitch better, that's what I think," said Hill. "I could have been a little more efficient. It's one of those games. I should have went deeper in the game, but it didn't work out that way and the bullpen did a heck of a job. Austin Barnes was great behind the plate. The offense was swinging the bats. It was a really good team win."
Since returning from the disabled list on June 19, Hill is 4-2 with a 2.45 ERA, but he needed help to pick up his first career win against the A's. He got it from an offense that manufactured runs and a bullpen that now includes Dylan Floro and JT Chargois joining Scott Alexander and Kenley Jansen. They recorded six of the last 11 outs by strikeout, with only one hit and no runs allowed.

"Guys are taking advantage of some opportunities," said Roberts. "We're using Floro in some leverage spots, and he's doing a great job. Since Chargois came back from OKC, he has really been dominant. Alexander, the same thing, been lights-out. Kenley, the last two outings, he's been efficient." Floro relieved Hill and struck out the only batter he faced, Alexander pitched 1 1/3 innings, and Chargois recorded a 1-2-3 eighth before Jansen locked down the ninth for his 32nd save, tying Colorado's Wade Davis for the league lead.
"There's a little bit of the hot hand," Roberts said of his reliever selection. "Those guys have earned it."
A Dodgers lineup that had 41 strikeouts and only eight walks in three games against Houston over the weekend drew seven walks against the A's, scoring single runs each of the first three innings and chasing starter Sean Manaea after 2 2/3.

James Dozier, batting leadoff, singled and walked three times. Justin Turner and Yasiel Puig each had a pair of hits, Cody Bellinger reached base three times, Barnes put down a pair of safety-squeeze bunts (scoring a run on one) and Matt Kemp had his first RBI hit in 43 at-bats.
"It's the first time in a long time we had the same number of walks as strikeouts," said Roberts. "The at-bat quality, starting with Dozier, was really good. Running the bases, first to third a couple of times, was really good to see. The safety squeeze by Barnes was big."

The first A's hit was an infield single by Davis with one out in the fourth. Shortstop Manny Machado went all-out to keep the no-hitter intact, making a diving stop deep in the hole and firing to first while still on the ground.
Machado helped bail out Hill after the lefty walked the first two batters in the fifth, beginning a 6-4-3 double-play on a Jonathan Lucroy grounder. But Hill's end came quickly in the sixth inning, after a leadoff double by Matt Chapman and a two-run homer by Davis, who was 5-for-10 with a homer at Dodger Stadium earlier this year.
This was the Dodgers' first win at the Coliseum since July 14, 2001, ending an eight-game losing streak that spanned 17 years.
Of 42 batted balls tracked by Statcast™, Kemp's RBI single in the seventh inning had the lowest exit velocity at 63.9 mph.

"It's life, man. It happens. It's baseball. You can't be good the whole year. There's gotta be grinding times, and I'm in my grinding time." -- Kemp, on his slump

Barnes brought home one run with a safety squeeze in the second inning and tried it again in the sixth, but A's pitcher Ryan Buchter gloved the bunt and flipped it with his glove to catcher Lucroy. Bellinger, trying to score, made a nice swim move and tried to slap the plate with his hand before Lucroy's tag, but home-plate umpire Tim Timmons called Bellinger out.
The Dodgers challenged the call, both too see whether Lucroy illegally blocked the plate and whether Bellinger avoided the tag with a crafty swim move. Replays confirmed there was no violation of the home-plate collision rule, and the out call would stand, as there wasn't a definitive angle that showed whether Bellinger got to the plate before Lucroy's tag.

The Dodgers and A's wrap up this brief set at 7:10 PT on Wednesday night with Clayton Kershaw opposing recently acquired Mike Fiers. The Dodgers scored 21 runs in Kershaw's last start, when he struck out seven in six innings and allowed two runs. He's allowed five homers to left-handed batters. For the past two years, he's had reverse splits, being more effective against righties.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for since 2001.