The Los Angeles Dodgers were close to suffering their first loss to the Atlanta Braves in four meetings this season, but their familiar power surge resurfaced and propelled them to an 8-3 comeback win at SunTrust Park.
Up until a four-run seventh inning, the Dodgers had scored on Cody Bellinger’s 41st home run of the year, and Joc Pederson’s RBI single in the third. Max Muncy’s three-run blast off Braves relief pitcher Sean Newcomb gave the Dodgers a decided lead.
Justin Turner followed Muncy’s home run by ambushing Newcomb’s next pitch, giving the Dodgers back-to-back home runs for a 14th time this season. Will Smith added another on his drive down the left-field line that hit off the foul pole in the eighth inning.
Although the Dodgers lead the National League with 215 home runs and are third overall, Muncy asserted the team is well-rounded, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“I think we’re a pretty complete club all around,” Muncy said. “Obviously the home runs are what you notice, but if you look at the at-bats before the home run, very good at-bats. Before the home run, A.J. [Pollock] went in, pinch-hit single, that’s hard to do. [Kyle] Garlick had a pinch-hit walk, which is extremely hard to do. Not trying to do too much.”
To Muncy’s point, and as he mentioned, pinch-hitters A.J. Pollock and Kyle Garlick reaching base safely to keep the inning alive are what led to Muncy’s go-ahead home run. His and Turner’s homers also contributed to the Dodgers continuing to shine with two outs.
Their .253 batting average in those situations is far cry from last season’s struggles and ranks ninth in the Majors. The Dodgers’ .803 on-base plus slugging percentage is second in the NL and fifth overall.
Their two-strike approach and hitting with runners in scoring position were areas president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman praised the club for making improvements in earlier this season.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers enter play Saturday 70-26 when hitting a home run and 49-12 when clubbing at least two. Muncy is their first player with back-to-back seasons of 30 home runs since Shawn Green from 2001-02.
He and Cody Bellinger are the franchise’s first duo with at least 30 homers in the same season since Green and Gary Sheffield accomplished the feat in 2001. Muncy is on pace to surpass his career high (35), Bellinger has already done so, and the Dodgers are 21 homers from setting a new franchise record.
They extended an all-time record by producing a fifth consecutive game with at least four home runs and set a new MLB record by swatting 22 in a five-game span.