Kenta Maeda sailed through six strong innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks Friday night, protecting the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2-0 lead after the second, and 3-0 lead after the fourth. However, he was chased with one out in the seventh after a base hit and one-out RBI double.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called on four relievers — half the amount on the active roster — to get the final two outs in the seventh. Arizona benefitted from multiple bloop singles, a walk with the bases loaded, and an RBI infield single to take a 7-3 lead.
“It just wasn’t there night, and that’s going to happen,” said Roberts of his bullpen that otherwise has pitched admirably in recent weeks. The Dodgers responded for five runs of their own in the bottom of the seventh to retake the lead.
Corey Seager tacked on an insurance run with an RBI double in the eighth, and Los Angeles came away with a 9-7 victory, closed out by Kenley Jansen’s four-out save. “Every win is a big one, but arguably that’s the best win of the year,” Roberts said after the exhilarating comeback.
“My memory might be a little short. We’re resilient. For our offense to respond like that, after giving up seven runs, to come back and score five runs and never quit, earlier in the year that probably wouldn’t happen.”
Joc Pederson helped jumpstart the Dodgers’ offense in the bottom of the seventh by following an Andrew Toles leadoff single with a line-drive, two-run homer that cut their deficit in half. “That was fun to be a part of. To have a long inning and come out on top is nice,” Pederson said.
Pederson agreed with Roberts’ claim that Friday’s game likely doesn’t have the same result if played earlier this season. “No, I don’t think we were playing that way a month ago,” the 24-year-old center fielder said. “We’re coming up with a lot more clutch hits and have a special thing going.”
While Pederson’s homer pulled the Dodgers close, Chase Utley’s two-run blast got them them even. That it came on the first pitch from from left-hander Zac Curtis after a pitching change, sent Dodger Stadium into a frenzy.
“It was exciting, for sure. For them to score seven runs that inning and for us to battle back after that, is impressive,” Utley said in his usual cool demeanor. “It shows the guys aren’t giving up. We had great at-bats that whole inning and were able to capitalize on some mistakes.
“We’re starting play better baseball in general. I think we all realize we have a good team and we continue to want to win and improve, which in my opinion is an important part of a good team.”
The Dodgers enter play on Saturday a season high-tying 13 games over .500 and have made up 5.5 games in the National League West standings since the All-Star break. The San Francisco Giants beat the Washington Nationals on Saturday afternoon, putting them 1.5 games ahead of the Dodgers.
“It’s huge, they were hot for a second there. But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,” Pederson said of his club’s recent surge. “We know it’s going to come down to the end and we’re just going to continue to play Dodger baseball. Things will take care of themselves.”