Rich Hill had been nothing short of stellar in two starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers since they acquired him prior to the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline. Coming off an outing in which he lost a no-hitter in what finished as six shutout innings, Hill raised the bar against the Miami Marlins.
After giving up a one-out single to Corey Seager, Marlins starter Tom Koehler broke Justin Turner’s bat to induce an inning-ending double play ball. Rich Hill picked up where he left off in his last start, setting the Marlins down in order in the bottom of the first.
Adrian Gonzalez led off the second inning with a long single that hit off the wall in right field and caromed perfectly to Marcell Ozuna. The single extended Gonzalez’s hitting streak to nine games.
Josh Reddick fouled off three pitches on a full count before going down swinging on a strike ’em out, throw ’em out to end the inning. Hill started the bottom half of the inning with a strikeout and proceeded to retire the next two batters faced.
He followed a Joc Pederson walk in the third with a swinging bunt that resulted in Pederson being forced out at second base. Howie Kendrick then checked his swing on a grounder to first base to end a scoreless third inning of work for Koehler.
Turner was stranded by Gonzalez and Yasmani Grandal after hitting a single into center field in the fourth. The Marlins managed to make solid contact in the bottom half of the inning but Pederson tracked down all three fly balls to center field.
Hill at that point had a perfect game through four innings on an efficient 45 pitches. Martin Prado made a backhanded stop on a rocket pulled down the third-base line to rob Yasiel Puig of a likely double with one out in the fifth.
Pederson broke the scoreless tie by clobbering a solo home run to the second deck in right field, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead, before Koehler could get out of the inning. Hill collected back-to-back strikeouts in the fifth to end another perfect inning.
Kendrick led off the sixth with a walk, setting the stage for a big inning. Seager clubbed a two-run homer and Turner went opposite field for a solo blast, with the back-to-back home runs extending the Dodgers’ lead to 4-0 and chasing Koehler.
All Hill did with the lead was strike out the side in the sixth to give him five consecutive strikeouts to that point. Pederson added to his night with a line-drive solo home run in the seventh that just cleared the right field fence.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Puig, starting in left field for only the second time of his career, laid out for a diving catch in deep left field to preserve Hill’s perfect game. The southpaw was at 89 pitches to that point, and went into tunnel to speak with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts during the eighth inning.
Hill’s bid for history came to an end as Joe Blanton took the mound in the bottom of the eighth. Roberts said after the game the decision left him sick to his stomach.
Blanton allowed a two-out single to Jeff Francoeur that skipped off Seager’s glove. The hit prevented Los Angeles from becoming the first team in Major League Baseball history to complete a combined perfect game.
Reinstated from the 60-day disabled list on Saturday, Andre Ethier’s first plate appearance of the season came with two on and two out in the ninth, and he rolled a grounder over to first base.
The leadoff man reached on an error in the bottom of the ninth, and Dee Gordon hit an infield single with one out. Grant Dayton got Xavier Scruggs swinging, then handled the ball over to Kenley Jansen who wrapped up the Dodgers’ 5-0 victory.