Dodgers get a scare in 5-4 victory over the Phillies, but they clinch a tie for West title

Share via

Fatigued on their trudge toward clinching the National League West, and irritated by an ineffectual performance against the Philadelphia Phillies this week, the Dodgers ended their three-city trip Thursday with an unnerving sight: Justin Turner clutching his right thumb after getting hit by a pitch.

Turner got drilled by a 91-mph fastball from Phillies starter Mark Leiter Jr. in the first inning as the Dodgers ended a four-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory in front of 18,735 fans at Citizens Bank Park. Turner played the field in the bottom of the inning, but exited soon after. An X-ray came back negative, and the Dodgers described Turner’s injury as a bruise.

“Any time you get hit in the hand,” Turner said, “it’s a little scary.”

The Dodgers (97-56) could exhale after hearing the prognosis on Turner. They tried to savor a hard-fought victory over a last-place team. They reduced their magic number to clinch the NL West to one. The team had expected to celebrate the division title on this trip, but a spate of ineptitude ended that hope.


During this week in Philadelphia, the Dodgers’ bullpen operated like a tinderbox. Clayton Kershaw yielded the first grand slam of his big league career. The offense snoozed through the first two games. It was a worrisome time — and that was before one of the team’s most reliable hitters left in pain.

Turner joined Corey Seager on the bench. Seager was resting his right ankle after fouling a ball off his leg Wednesday. The offense compensated for their absence, despite another shaky day from the relief corps. Home runs by Curtis Granderson and Andre Ethier allowed the Dodgers to crawl back into the game and escape with a victory.

The Dodgers operated with urgency. Manager Dave Roberts called upon Kenley Jansen for a four-out save. Jansen is one of the few relievers Roberts can still trust.

“It was a game we really wanted to win,” Roberts said.

The latest bullpen breakdown occurred after an afternoon of transition for Kenta Maeda. He logged only three innings in what could be his final start of the season. Maeda gave up a two-run homer to Phillies outfielder Nick Williams in the third. He will spend these next two weeks auditioning to make the postseason roster as a reliever.

“Going forward, we see him as a weapon in the bullpen,” Roberts said. “He’s done it, and really thrived in that role.”

The relief corps could use the help. On Thursday, Josh Fields became the latest Dodgers reliever to combust. He followed a path earlier in this series blazed by Pedro Baez, Ross Stripling, Luis Avilan and Brandon Morrow. Baez imploded Tuesday; Stripling did the same Wednesday.


On Thursday, at least, the offense bailed out Fields.

Brought into the game in the fifth inning, hoping to protect a tie score, Fields gave up a leadoff single to second baseman Cesar Hernandez. An error by Chase Utley, who was forced to play first base as the Dodgers reshuffled their lineup to compensate for the absence of Turner and Seager, compounded Fields’ troubles.

With a pair of runners aboard, Fields fed Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins a 98-mph fastball at the waist. Hoskins roped it into left-center for a two-run double.

The Dodgers did not fade away. Granderson supplied a solo homer in the sixth. Ethier came off the bench for another homer in the seventh. Chris Taylor followed with a triple and scored on a groundout by Cody Bellinger to give the Dodgers the lead.

For the second year in a row, Ethier missed the first five months of the season with an injury. His herniated disk kept him sidelined while the Dodgers soared. But he could be a vital contributor in October, either as a batter off the bench or a regular in left field. He has hit .320 with a .970 on-base-plus-slugging percentage this month.

“I’m still out there fighting to get fully locked in and fully ready,” Ethier said. “I’m really not concerned about October. I’m more concerned about today, and then I’m concerned about tomorrow, and how I can keep progressing and getting better each day.”

A day earlier, the Dodgers prepared their clubhouse for a champagne celebration, hoping for the combination of a loss by Arizona and a victory of their own. Neither took place, so a clinch was not possible Thursday when the Diamondbacks did not play.


The players tried to inject some levity into the situation. As a few reporters stood nearby Jansen, Yasiel Puig commandeered a microphone.

“Kenley Jansen,” Puig said, “how did you feel today?”

“How did I feel today?” Jansen said. “I felt great. I thought we were going to lose this one, for sure, with you batting fourth. I thought we didn’t have a shot.”

Puig tried a few more times, but Jansen kept firing back. At last, Puig handed over the mic and departed the scene. Jansen offered a silver lining for this 5-5 trip, and a return to Los Angeles with a clinch still in their sights.

“What can you do?” Jansen said. “It’s so much better to celebrate in front of your fans.”

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes