The Los Angeles dodgers followed a familiar formula against the Washington Nationals on Saturday, taking an early lead, then handing the ball over to their bullpen after five innings from the starting pitcher.
Though, in this instance Rich Hill was removed in lieu of an attempt to extend the lead. Considering he only threw 74 pitches, there was some concern over a possible recurrence of his blisters.
Hill was spotted a lead in the second inning, thanks to Cody Bellinger’s solo home run. The homer was Bellinger’s 38th this season, which tied the National League rookie record. He previously broke Mike Piazza’s Dodgers rookie record for most home runs when he slugged his 36th on Sept. 4.
With the Dodgers still clinging to a 1-0 lead, Bellinger went with a pitch to flare an RBI single into left field in the third inning. Justin Turner’s sacrifice fly in the fifth put the Dodgers ahead, 3-1.
While the bullpen protected the lead, it wasn’t without first allowing the Nationals to pull to within a run. Corey Seager was unable to make a play on a soft chopper up the middle, then he came up empty on a backhanded attempt at a grounder.
Trea Turner’s soft grounder got through the left side of an infield for an RBI single. After Tony Watson retired Howie Kendrick, he faced Dodgers nemesis Daniel Murphy. He hit a sinking line drive to right field that Yasiel Puig made a diving catch for end the threat.
Los Angeles now faces Stephen Strasburg on Sunday night with an opportunity to complete a three-game sweep at Nationals Park. Strasburg takes the mound with a 34 scoreless innings streak in tow.