EditorsNote: fixing 4th graph Bellinger RBI groundout
Dodgers beat Phillies, close in on NL West crown
PHILADELPHIA — The Dodgers were nine outs away from leaving the East Coast embarrassed and swept by a team with the third-worst record in baseball.
Then with the pitcher’s spot due up to lead off the seventh inning, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts turned to a forgotten man on the Los Angeles roster to pinch-hit.
And 35-year-old Andre Ethier delivered.
Ethier hit a game-tying, pinch-hit homer off Philadelphia Phillies reliever Ricardo Pinto (1-2) and Cody Bellinger later followed with a RBI groundout in the seventh inning and the Dodgers held on for a 5-4 win at Citizens Bank Park to snap a four-game losing streak.
“It is something he has done his whole career — a good professional at-bat,” Roberts said of Ethier. “The professionalism and quality never waivers. That was a big at-bat for us.”
Los Angeles’ magic number to clinch the National League West is one. The win guaranteed a tie for the NL West crown. The Dodgers can clinch their fifth straight divisional crown Friday with a win or an Arizona loss.
The Dodgers are three wins shy of their first 100-win season since 1974.
Once a mainstay in the Dodgers lineup, Ethier has been dealt bad luck with injuries the past two seasons. He didn’t make his first appearance this season until Sept. 1 because of a herniated disk and has played in just 31 games over the past two years.
Ethier is pushing for a spot on the postseason roster and he didn’t hurt his case with his fifth career pinch-hit homer and second this season.
“I’m just trying to be a baseball player,” Ethier said. “I just don’t let it in. I don’t think about that stuff. I think about being successful and knowing that I can do it. I think there’s a certain point where you aren’t worried about the failures, you just don’t let that creep in.”
In 16 games, Ethier is hitting .320 with two homers and three RBIs. As a pinch hitter, a role he’d likely have in the playoffs, he’s 2-for-11 with two homers.
Walker Buehler (1-0) earned his first career win with a scoreless seventh inning, and the Los Angeles bullpen pitched six innings after starter Kenta Maeda went three frames.
Kenley Jansen was spotless in 1 1/3 innings for his 39th save.
Maeda hadn’t pitched since Sept. 11, and after the game Roberts said he’ll be used out of the bullpen going forward.
“With Kenta today, it’s a tall task to have nine days off and be sharp,” Roberts said. “He had good stuff today. To get 60 pitches and get him his start, that was important. We see him as a weapon in the bullpen.”
Philadelphia, which is now 32-34 since the All-Star break, won the four-game series against the major league-best Dodgers and ended a 10-game homestand 7-3.
“It says a lot,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said of the Dodgers series. “We played them very tough, and I know they had to be a little nervous because they came in here probably thinking they were going to beat up on us, but our guys, they played hard.”
The Phillies wasted a quality start from right-handed pitcher Mark Leiter Jr. Leiter allowed three runs — one earned — in six innings. He struck out three and walked one.
“We’re competing with a lot of good teams right now,” Leiter said. “Anytime you win a series, that’s always a good thing. That’s always the goal. They’re a great team — playoffs and everything. It shows the trend that we’re on right now.”
Philadelphia rookie sensation Rhys Hoskins continued to grow his legend with another big hit, as he broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the fifth inning with a two-run double.
The first baseman was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and left three on base.
In the four-game series, however, Hoskins drove in six runs, had two doubles, walked four times and collected four hits. Thursday was his 16th multi-RBI game. He has 45 RBIs in 41 games since being called up on Aug. 10.
Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner left the game after the first inning with a right thumb contusion. He was hit in the thumb by a 91 mph fastball by Leiter in the top of the first and played in the field in the bottom of the inning before being removed.
X-rays were negative.
“I don’t know how it would have been if I took another at-bat,” Turner said. “It might have been OK, but if I got jammed, it probably would have made it even worse.
“Dave and I agreed to be cautious about it.”
NOTES: Dodgers 2B Chase Utley, the former Phillies’ standout, was 0-for-3 on Thursday. He was 2-for-11 with a triple and an RBI in the series. He is now 5-for-24 with two home runs, a triple and six RBIs at Citizens Bank Park as an opposing player. ... The Phillies head to Atlanta for their final three road games of the season. RHP Ben Lively (3-6, 3.94) faces LHP Sean Newcomb (3-8, 4.32) in Game 1 of a three-game set. ... Los Angeles returns home after a 10-game road trip to open up a three-game series with San Francisco. LHP Rich Hill (10-8, 3.60) opposes RHP Jeff Samardzija (9-14, 4.42).