The Dodgers collected their 40th win of the season and a series win against the Phillies with a 4-3 walk-off victory on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium to open the month of June. They’ve now won four straight and eight of nine.
The defense had a bad night making it a closer contest than it should have been, and the bullpen nearly ruined a solid Clayton Kershaw start. But Will Smith saved us all from another extra-inning marathon by hitting his first major-league home run at the perfect moment.
The Dodgers had the bases loaded in the 2nd inning after opener Jose Alvarez walked Corey Seager and allowed a base hit to Alex Verdugo. Gabe Kapler intentionally walked Smith to get to Kershaw who was 1-for-16 on the season at the plate. The move worked. Kershaw grounded out to second to end the threat.
The Dodgers got on the board first in the 3rd. Old friend Juan Nicasio only faced one batter to begin the frame and induced a groundout from David Freese. Next up on the mound for the Phillies was left-hander Cole Irvin. Max Muncy singled, and Cody Bellinger walked to give them two on with two outs. Enrique Hernandez came up with a RBI single to center to break the scoreless tie and give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.
The defense didn’t give Kershaw much help in the top of the 4th. Bryce Harper managed to get just his fourth career base hit off Kershaw, a single with one out. Then a wild pitch that got by Smith behind the plate allowed Harper to move into scoring position, and an error on Muncy at third gave the Phils runners at the corners. Philadelphia took advantage. J.T. Realmuto cashed in the tying run with a RBI single to left field.
The Dodgers bounced right back though and took a 2-1 lead in the 5th on a Freese solo dong to center field.
Kershaw’s final line: 7 IP, 1 R, 6 H, 6 K, 0 BB, 95 pitches (65 strikes)
The Dodgers added an insurance run in the bottom of the 7th thanks to the Philly’s defense this time around. Matt Beaty came in to pinch-hit for Kershaw and hustled down the line on a soft grounder to second for a one-out single. Dave Roberts was saving Joc Pederson, and he came in to replace Freese as a pinch-hitter, drawing a walk. The Phils pitcher Vince Velasquez then made an error on a pickoff attempt at second base, and the Dodgers cashed it in as Beaty scored on a Muncy sac fly.
Beaty’s now hitting .293. He’s been a pleasant surprise.
Unfortunately Kershaw couldn’t pitch all nine innings, because once the bullpen came in … well you know. Julio Urias hit Jean Segura with a pitch, then Harper crushed a meatball of a slider for a two-run shot to tie up the game 3-3.
Bellinger singled off Seranthony Dominguez to open the 8th and extend his hitting streak to nine straight, but then he was caught stealing second on a good throw by Realmuto. Sigh.
Fortunately, if there’s a Will … there’s a way. In the bottom of the 9th, Smith hit his first major-league home run, a walk-off dong on a 3-2 Hector Neris splitter.
There’s no way they can send him back down to Triple-A, right?
Tomorrow afternoon the Dodgers go for the sweep and finish up the homestand before they head to Arizona to start a eight-game road trip. Rich Hill (1-1, 2.73 ERA, 4.39 FIP) will counter right-hander Nick Pivetta (3-1, 7.71 ERA, 6.70 FIP) with first pitch set for 1:10 PM PST.