The ballpark shuddered upon impact. A visceral groan rippled through Citi Field as Cody Bellinger’s sixth-inning grand slam took flight. Mets right fielder Jose Bautista stood in place and stared upward. At last the baseball landed in the second deck, a towering blast that proved the difference in a 5-2 Dodgers victory.
“I was thinking, ‘Just hit the ball,’ honestly,” Bellinger said. “I connected on the barrel. I guess good things happen when you don’t try too hard some times.”
The homer broke a scoreless deadlock and provided enough cover for the Dodgers (39-35) to survive Alex Wood surrendering a two-run shot in the bottom of the sixth and an eventful eighth inning in the field from new second baseman Max Muncy. Scott Alexander strung together two scoreless innings and overcame an error by Muncy to keep the Mets at bay. A ninth-inning homer by Yasiel Puig offered some insurance.
Wood (3-5, 4.13 earned-run average) struck out seven across six innings. His only blemish occurred in his final frame, when Bautista took him deep. Wood hoped to build off his last start, when he held San Francisco to one run in 5 1/3 innings. Wood had been clubbed by the San Diego Padres, the Colorado Rockies and the Atlanta Braves in his previous three outings, as he dealt with lingering discomfort in his hamstring.
In that outing against San Francisco, Wood collected only two strikeouts. He topped that in Friday’s first inning as he struck out the side. The Mets had better luck in the second inning. Wood watched as the bases became loaded after a pair of singles and a walk.
Wood extricated himself from the jam against the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters. Amed Rosario grounded into a forceout at the plate. Wood struck out Zack Wheeler with a curveball to leave the bases loaded. Manager Dave Roberts credited Wood for succeeding despite not having much fastball command.
“He threw the ball really well,” Roberts said. “He’s back, for me.”
The Dodgers came to New York after an ineffective series at the plate at Wrigley Field. On Wednesday afternoon, the hitters squared up Cubs ace Jon Lester often but couldn’t manage a run. The trend continued at the start of Friday.
In the third inning, Joc Pederson smashed a 99-mph fastball into center. Enrique Hernandez stood on third with two outs, in position to walk home if the baseball fell. Instead Mets center fielder Michael Conforto dived for a sprawling catch to keep the Dodgers off the board.
An inning later, the Dodgers could not capitalize on a leadoff walk by Muncy and a single by Justin Turner. Matt Kemp flied out. Bellinger smashed a hanging splitter almost directly at Conforto. Yasiel Puig hit a grounder for the third out.
Wood faced a similar threat in the fifth. He yielded singles to Devin Mesoraco and Rosario. Wheeler could not lay down a bunt, and his strikeout turned over the lineup. Wood struck out Brandon Nimmo with three pitches, the last two changeups at the shins. Turner scooped a well-struck groundball off the bat of Todd Frazier to suppress the Mets rally. “They’ve played great D the last two games behind me,” Wood said.
For the Dodgers, the failures with runners aboard ended in the sixth. The hitters set the table for Bellinger. Muncy took his second walk of the game. Turner did the same. Wheeler struggled with command and his footing — he aired a 58-mph accidental eephus to Kemp before Kemp blooped a single on the next pitch.
Wheeler had little choice but to challenge Bellinger, who swung through one 96-mph fastball. He took another for a strike. He destroyed the third. Bellinger flexed his bat in his follow-through before jogging around the bases.
“It was still a short swing,” Roberts said. “The result was a 500-foot homer.”
The Mets cut the four-run lead in half in the bottom of the inning. Wood fell victim to a brief, two-out rally. After a single by Conforto, Wood left a changeup in the zone for Bautista. The two-run blast sullied Wood’s line.
Alexander replaced Wood on the mound. He retired the side in the seventh before returning for the eighth. After a leadoff single by Asdrubal Cabrera, Wood struck out Wilmer Flores. Conforto tapped a roller toward Muncy that could have been a double play. Muncy bobbled the ball.
Muncy played some second base in Oakland and last season at triple-A Oklahoma City. The Dodgers want his bat in the lineup, and with Bellinger and Pederson on the upswing, the best location for Muncy might be second base. His fielding in the eighth still created problems.
“Muncy, we trust him all over the diamond,” Roberts said. “This was the first time where something like that happened. But that happens to anyone. He’ll get many other opportunities.”
As the error occurred, an ugly memory resurfaced for the Dodgers. A defensive shift had left third base unoccupied. Cabrera raced to the bag, shades of the dash the Mets’ Daniel Murphy made to third in the deciding game of the 2015 National League division series. There were runners at the corners with one out.
The Dodgers avoided collapsing at a reminder of their history. Roberts hustled to the mound to confer with Alexander. The rest of the inning lasted only one pitch: Alexander fired a 94-mph sinker and Bautista pounded it into the ground. Hernandez fed Muncy for one out at second. Muncy chucked the ball to Bellinger in time.
“Everyone is human, there’s going to be physical errors sometimes,” Alexander said. “For me, it’s just knowing that ‘Hey, I’ve got to get another one right here, and pick him up.’ It was awesome.”