The solution lurked beneath their noses, but as the
Yu Darvish sprinkled salt in the
None of the tricks worked. The answer resided inside their clubhouse, in the explosive bat of rookie sensation Cody Bellinger, in the depth of their lineup, in the stoutness of their pitching staff. The team suffered through weeks of futility before it became clear that rituals to ward off spirits, fictional totems and support staffers wearing bruises would not solve their woes.
The mantra the players often used — “Play better” — felt unfulfilling during an 11-game losing streak. But it felt obvious after Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the
"We've been playing extremely good baseball," Hill said. "You can see the conviction behind every play, behind every swing, behind every pitch."
After losing six series in a row, the Dodgers (96-52) are still “trying to get that swagger back” that sustained them earlier in the summer, manager Dave Roberts explained. Saturday helped. Bellinger tied the
In the eighth, after a pair of ground balls evaded the grasp of shortstop
"Hats off to Puig," Watson said. "That was a huge out for us."
In turn, the Dodgers reduced the magic number to win the
The advantage started with a familiar source. Bellinger crushed a waist-high, 93-mph fastball from A.J. Cole in the second inning. He now shares the NL rookie homer record with Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and former Boston Brave Wally Berger.
When the season began, he said after the game, he had hoped to join the Dodgers as a September call-up. He has become a force who carries them.
In the third, Utley sparked the offense from the leadoff spot. Utley had started Friday against Edwin Jackson, another right-handed pitcher, as the Dodgers appear to have settled on a platoon at second base. Utley will face the right-handed pitchers, for the most part, with Logan Forsythe set to play against left-handed starters.
Utley opened a rally by pulling a double into right field. Three batters later, Cole tossed a changeup on the outer edge of the plate to Bellinger. After the homer, Cole appeared wary of testing Bellinger inside. Instead, Bellinger countered by flicking an RBI single into left.
"They're a great team with a great lineup," Bellinger said. "To come out and win these two games, I think that means something."
Hill cruised through the first three innings. He benefited from the zone of umpire Gary Cederstrom, who afforded both pitchers some generous strikes. Hill would not complain — he struck out six in the first three innings, and did not give up a hit until there were two outs in the fourth.
Hill could not put away Washington third baseman
Utley helped formulate a response in the fifth. He yanked another double into right. An infield single by Seager moved Utley to third. He scored on a sacrifice fly by Justin Turner.
Hill retired the side on a trio of grounders in the fifth. He had thrown only 74 pitches. But with a pair of runners aboard in the top of the sixth, Roberts removed him for a pinch-hitter. Despite the early exit, Hill was satisfied with the victory.
"We got the win today, and that's all that matters," Hill said. "The bullpen did a hell of a job. Everybody looks like they're coming back to form."