Dodgers kick off homestand by rallying to beat Diamondbacks – Orange County Register

Aug 29, 2023 | Canyon Crest Guide Newspaper | 0 comments

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LOS ANGELES ― Jason Heyward deposited a souvenir in the right-field bleachers at Dodger Stadium, 399 feet from home plate. He circled the bases, then offered a different greeting to each of the three teammates standing between him and the third-base dugout: David Peralta, James Outman and Kiké Hernandez.

The Dodgers are entering the stage of the regular season where they can get creative with their handshakes, hugs, high-fives, and other methods of celebration. The Arizona Diamondbacks are not. Their ace, Zac Gallen, was tasked with holding a one-run lead into the sixth inning Monday night. Heyward’s two-run home run, followed by a solo shot by Outman into the right field pavilion, turned the tables.

The back-to-back homers allowed the Dodgers (81-49) to begin a seven-game homestand with a 7-4 victory over the Diamondbacks. It also gave them even more separation from Arizona (69-63), the second-place team in the National League West. The 13-game gap is the largest between the top two teams in any of MLB’s six divisions.

“Finding ways to take what (Gallen) gives us – that was something we talked about before the game,” Heyward said. “He’s going to make pitches. Keep making him make pitches, no matter what happens, and hopefully we hit the ones that he does leave us to hit.”

Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy also homered before an announced crowd of 36,521 at Dodger Stadium. Bobby Miller (8-3) endured a rough fourth inning, coughing up a 3-1 lead, but he hung around long enough to pick up the win.

On the same day when he was crowned National League Player of the Week, Dodgers second baseman Mookie Betts saw his 15-game hitting streak end. He had no shortage of help sparking the Dodgers’ offense.

Smith, Muncy, Heyward and Outman had two hits apiece. Freeman’s 24th home run of the season, and Muncy’s 31st – a two-run shot – staked Miller to a 3-0 lead after one inning.

That lead evaporated in the fourth inning, when Miller issued a one-out walk, followed by four straight hits. The loudest of the four, a home run by Gabriel Moreno, gave Arizona a 4-3 lead.

“Just execution, really, is what it all comes down to, no matter what type of jam you’re in,” Miller said. “You’ve just got to execute and I wasn’t executing in the fourth.”

Miller’s slider, which he often uses to induce swings and misses, induced only one swing and miss. Miller’s fastball touched 100 mph but the Diamondbacks still put it into play on seven occasions, including Moreno’s homer.

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Yet no relievers began warming up for the Dodgers in the fourth inning.

“I thought that sometimes a young pitcher, certainly with velocity, it speeds up and you want to just make it end quicker. You just want to rear back and throw as hard as you can, and hope that it ends,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “For me, just watching his mound presence, he was able to continue to go pitch by pitch, execute pitches, make pitches, and that was all they got. He was determined that wasn’t going to be his last inning.”

Miller finished the inning by striking out Ketel Marte – the first of seven consecutive batters he retired to finish his outing. Miller finished with four strikeouts in all.

The first 15 starts of Miller’s career saw him face 15 different opponents. This time, he was facing the same Diamondbacks team that he shut out for six innings on Aug. 9 in Arizona. Familiarity tends to favor the hitting team. It didn’t help that, in Miller’s own words, he was competing despite “probably the worst my stuff’s been all year.”

That merely impressed his teammates more.

“For him to battle, keep it close, and go out there and trust his stuff, be aggressive in the zone, not shy away from that – you’ve got to respect that,” Heyward said.

The Dodgers had not seen Gallen since Opening Day, when they pummeled him for five runs (all earned) in 4⅔ innings. Over his next 26 starts, Gallen went 14-4 with a 2.92 ERA, putting him on a short list of contenders for the NL Cy Young Award.

Monday, Gallen looked mortal again. He allowed six runs (all earned) in 5⅓ innings. The Dodgers swung and missed at only six of his 101 pitches. It was the first time Gallen had allowed four home runs in a single game.

“It just seems like every time we face a guy like that it’s a grind and he makes pitches when he needs to,” Roberts said. “I thought tonight, to start the game, he went to the well one too many times with Freddie. I thought it was a decent pitch – Freddie with the homer, Jason with the changeup down, and James put a good swing on a fastball.

“You’re not going to put up crooked numbers against Zac Gallen very often but it was good to see us after we relinquished that lead to battle back.”

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