Dodgers top off epic run with 14-5 rout of Toronto, take first in West
TORONTO — The Dodgers once were 12 games under .500. They once were as many as 9 1/2 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks and started this month in last place.
Monday night, they moved into first in the National League West.
Hours after their 14-5 demolition of the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, the Dodgers received word that the Diamondbacks had lost to the Chicago Cubs, 4-2.
“1st place!” Adrian Gonzalez posted on his Twitter account.
The Dodgers, who’ve won 21 of their last 26 games, lead Arizona by half a game.
Even with Matt Kemp out of the lineup because of a sprained ankle and Yasiel Puig still slumping, the Dodgers continued to look unstoppable in the first of a three games in Toronto.
Ten of their runs were driven in by the Nos. 6-9 hitters in the lineup. Catcher A.J. Ellis had four hits, including a home run, and career highs in runs batted in (five) and runs (three).
Ellis said his production was a testament to the players in the middle of lineup, such as Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier.
“When it gets down to the bottom, you can almost see the pitcher trying to take a breath,” Ellis said. “It’s like a break for them. It’s our job to make it tough.”
They did. Utilityman Skip Schumaker, batting seventh, hit a towering three-run home run to right field in the seventh that landed in the second deck. Juan Uribe and Mark Ellis, who batted eighth and ninth, each drove in a run.
“Our lineup is pretty deep,” Schumaker said. “I feel we might have an AL lineup if we had Kemp in there every day.”
The usual suspects inflicted the usual damage, too. Carl Crawford had three hits and two RBIs. Gonzalez drew three walks and scored twice. Ramirez was two for five with a double and two runs. Ethier doubled twice and scored three times.
Puig was one for five and struck out twice, but drove in his first run since July 4.
The Dodgers scored four times in the second inning and once each in the third and fourth to offset a mediocre outing by Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Pitching on 11 days’ rest, Ryu improved to 8-3 despite giving up four runs and nine hits in 51/3 innings. Because Ryu pitched once a week in his native South Korea last season, as opposed to once every five days here, the Dodgers wanted to use to the All-Star break to give him extra days off. Manager Don Mattingly wasn’t sure if the strategy was effective.
“You can’t say he cruised through,” Mattingly said. “It seemed like his command was in and out. Maybe it rested him, but I almost felt like it was almost like a detriment, as far as being sharp with his breaking stuff.”
Ryu had a large cheering section down the right-field line, waving South Korean flags and chanting his name.
“It was a lot more than I expected,” Ryu said through an interpreter.
Also smiling afterward was Schumaker, who hit his first home run of the season.
“I honestly thought this was the year I wasn’t going to get one,” he said.
Schumaker joked with teammates about the possibility of a homerless season but admitted he was using humor to mask anxiety.
“I’m glad that this wasn’t the year,” Schumaker said.
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