LOS ANGELES -- In a season where several of the Dodgers' key players have been hampered by injuries, others continue to step up admirably in their stead.Behind the hot bat of infielder Player Page for Max Muncy and a strong effort on the mound from Thomas Stripling, Los Angeles defeated
LOS ANGELES -- In a season where several of the Dodgers' key players have been hampered by injuries, others continue to step up admirably in their stead.
Behind the hot bat of infielder Player Page for Max Muncy and a strong effort on the mound from Thomas Stripling, Los Angeles defeated the Braves, 7-2, at Dodger Stadium on Sunday, to claim its third straight series victory. The Dodgers have now won seven of their last eight contests, placing them back in the thick of the race for the National League West, thanks to some unlikely names.
Stripling -- the 28-year-old right-hander elevated into the Dodgers' starting rotation in May after making a spot start in April -- was quality. He pitched 6 2/3 innings, relinquishing just two runs on two hits to the Braves' offense, which ranked tops in the National League in batting average entering the game.
Stripling (5-1, 1.65 ERA) completed his outing without dealing any walks, and struck out six batters. He took a perfect game into the fourth inning, before Ozzie Albies and Freddie Freeman each connected on solo home runs. Stripling bounced back, however, retiring each of the last nine batters he faced.
"I was able to get off to a good start," Stripling said. "I went through the lineup once I think [in] less than 30 pitches, so I was in a good spot, then had a 33-pitch fourth. Obviously, the two homers, then was able to limit it to that. After that, you know you're trying to get through that inning and settle down and [I] was able to do that. Went 6 2/3 and just give us a chance to win, which is what I was trying to do when I went out there."
The Dodgers have won in each of Stripling's last five starts. His performance Sunday was buoyed by Los Angeles' offense, which bounced back from a quiet night Saturday to post seven runs while collecting 10 hits.
Braves starter Sean Newcomb kept the Dodgers hitless through the game's first two innings, but John Forsythe led off the third with a solo blast to open the scoring. Los Angeles filled the bases to set up back-to-back RBI singles from Matt Kemp and Enrique Hernandez, giving the Dodgers a three-run advantage. Newcomb managed to limit the outburst, however, ending the inning with back-to-back strikeouts of Yasiel Puig and Cody Bellinger to get out of the jam.
"We had a chance to put them away," Roberts said. "Even Yasiel striking out I thought was a good at-bat. That whole inning I thought was the end of Newcomb. We stressed him the whole inning. He's a good young arm and it was good to see Logan put the good swing on him."
Newcomb's recovery allowed Albies and Freeman's homers to trim the Dodgers' lead to 3-2 in the top of the fourth, but the Dodgers responded in the bottom of the fifth. Muncy got hold of a first-pitch fastball from Newcomb, driving it out of the park -- 421 feet, according to Statcast™ -- for a solo bomb, restoring the Dodgers' two-run advantage.
"He had a good fastball going today," Muncy said of Newcomb. "It was cutting a little bit. It looked like he had a good spin. I just got lucky to get one over the plate and got a hold of it."
Forsythe slotted an RBI ground-rule double into left field during the sixth to extend the Dodgers' lead to three, prompting Newcomb's exit from the contest. Chris Taylor walked to load the bases, and Muncy walked to make the score, 6-2. Hernandez smashed a solo home run in the seventh to grow the lead to its fullest extent.
With the victory, the Dodgers once again are one game above .500, improving to 33-32 overall and 6-2 this month. They've managed to do so without many of their injured starters returning, including third baseman Justin Turner, who's been dealing with a wrist injury but was expected to start Sunday's contest. Instead, Roberts elected to rest Turner one more game, inserting Muncy, who rewarded him with 1-for-2 day at the plate, including a home run and two walks.
"We feel good not to deploy J.T. when he's not 100 percent, to get other guys involved," Roberts said. "It was a collective effort. Staying away from Josh Fields was a good thing. A lot of good things for us."
Following the weekend, the Dodgers are tied with the Giants for second place in the National League West, standing 2 1/2 games behind the first-place D-backs.
Muncy swatted a home run for the third consecutive game with his solo blast in the fifth, marking the first time in his Major League career that he's strung together such a streak. It's the 12th time Muncy has gone yard this season -- a career high -- through 44 games; he hit 12 homers in 109 games at the Triple-A level last season.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
As the Dodgers built a 3-0 lead in the third, Puig worked a full count against Newcomb, and after fouling a pitch off, licked his bat before stepping back into the batter's box. He then broke his bat in frustration heading back to the dugout following the next pitch after whiffing on a 93.4-mph fastball from Newcomb to end the at-bat with a strikeout.
HE SAID IT
"I guess you could say that. It's just a good stretch for me. It's just one of those -- it's kind of how baseball goes. It's one of those stretches where it seems like there's a lot of pitches over the plate for me. I'm sure it won't be long before there's a stretch where it seems like everything is around the corner. That's just kind of how it goes. When you get in a stretch like this, you have to take advantage of it." -- Muncy, on whether he's dialed in, having hit five home runs in nine games played in June
"He's good. That's a legit curveball. It's got some bite and his fastball plays up. He seemed to have pretty good command of all his pitches. He made for some tough at-bats." -- Braves catcher Tyler Flowers, on Stripling's performance
The Dodgers will receive a day off Monday before starting a two-game series against the Rangers on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PT. Los Angeles has yet to name a starter, while right-hander Bartolo Colon is expected to start for Texas.
Kaelen Jones is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.