Dodgers roll again, push Diamondbacks to brink
LOS ANGELES -- Dave Roberts isn’t a gambling man, but it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea if he tried playing the Lotto.
After all, nearly everything the Los Angeles Dodgers manager did in the first two games of the National League Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks turned to gold.
Whether it’s writing out a lineup card or managing the game, Roberts has been spot-on, at least so far, as the Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series with an 8-5 victory on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.
Logan Forsythe, getting the start at second base over Chase Utley for the second night in a row, had three hits, scored two runs, drove in one and stole a base, part of an offensive onslaught by Los Angeles that followed a nine-run effort in Game 1.
Catcher Austin Barnes also had a big night, getting a start in place of regular catcher Yasmani Grandal. Barnes had two hits, scored two runs, drove in two and stole a base. His two-run double was the key hit in a four-run fifth inning that turned a 3-2 edge into a 7-2 cushion.
“It’s the way we put this roster together,” Roberts said. “Our hitting coaches do a lot of preparation with the guys, there’s a lot of buy-in. It’s that team offense concept. Pass it to the next guy, have that good at-bat, that’s when we’re at our best.”
It was particularly important in game like Saturday’s for the bottom of the lineup to produce considering the Dodgers’ 2-3-4 hitters -- Corey Seager, Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger -- went a combined 2-for-13 with seven strikeouts.
“The big thing for us I think was guys that aren’t in there (on a regular basis) are wanting to prove something and I think that gives them a little added edge,” Forsythe said. “They come out with and play with a chip on their shoulder. They want to get the job done and they’re not scared to do it.”
The Dodgers’ offense put constant pressure on Diamondbacks starter Robbie Ray, who dominated the L.A. bats this season (3-0, 2.27 ERA in five starts) but couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning in Game 2. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo credited the Dodgers hitters’ approach.
“They grind out their at-bats, no matter who is at the plate,” Lovullo said. “There is a lot of versatility that they have. They have some good left-right matchups, and they did a good job of structuring their roster for this series. It presents some unique challenges for bullpen usage.”
It turned out that the Dodgers’ five-run lead wasn’t overkill, thanks to a three-run pinch-hit home run in the seventh inning by Arizona’s Brandon Drury that silenced -- at least momentarily -- a blue towel-waving sellout crowd and narrowing the Dodgers’ lead to 7-5.
“That’s one of the great characteristics of this team,” Lovullo said. “We’re a smart, tough baseball team. We feel like we can strike at any time offensively. We were just always looking for that moment and that edge.”
An Arizona rally, however, was stopped in its tracks by Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who entered the game with one on and one out in the eighth inning and retired all five batters he faced to close it out and get the save.
Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig, hitting in the No. 8 spot, had another productive performance with three hits and two RBIs, impressing Roberts not only with his performance on the field but his attitude.
”He’s full of energy and emotion,“ Roberts said. ”I was talking to the coaches, and this is as good as we’ve seen him focus on every single pitch in the game. When you combine that with the skill set that he has and the energy that he brings, he doesn’t only energize 50,000 people, he energizes everyone in the clubhouse. So when he’s in the box, making plays with is arm, his glove, on the bases, its exciting.“”
Both starting pitchers were an afterthought by the time the game was over, as neither lasted five innings. Dodgers starter Rich Hill went four innings and gave up two runs on four hits and three walks. Both runs came on Paul Goldschmidt’s first-inning homer.
Ray, who got the loss, gave up four runs, four hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings. Maeda, one of six Los Angeles relievers to follow Hill, got the win after retiring the only three batters he faced.
NOTES: Both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks altered their lineups from Game 1 on Friday. For the Dodgers, Enrique Hernandez replaced Curtis Granderson in left field and Austin Barnes replaced Yasmani Grandal at catcher. For the Diamondbacks, Daniel Descalso replaced Brandon Drury at second base, Chris Iannetta replaced Jeff Mathis at catcher and Jake Lamb replaced Adam Rosales at third base. ... RHP Yu Darvish will start Game 3 for the Dodgers on Monday in Arizona. He made two postseason starts for Texas -- one in 2012 against Baltimore and one in 2016 against Toronto -- losing both games. ... RHP Zack Greinke’s Game 3 start for Arizona will be his 11th career postseason start. Six of those came while a member of the Dodgers, pitching in the 2013, ‘14 and ‘15 playoffs. Including his start in the wild-card game against Colorado on Wednesday, Greinke is 3-3 with a 3.92 ERA in 10 postseason starts.