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Dodgers lean on homers and Clayton Kershaw to take series against Reds

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Los Angeles Dodgers' Mookie Betts runs the bases during a baseball game.
Dodgers star Mookie Betts runs the bases during an 8-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)

Dodgers get homers from Seager, Smith and Lux and Clayton Kershaw pitches five strong innings in victory.

Clayton Kershaw puts on vintage performance in Dodgers’ victory over Reds

Highlights from the Dodgers’ 8-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.

CINCINNATI — For a few minutes Sunday afternoon, Clayton Kershaw took a break from his pregame stretching routine and sat alone in left field at Great American Ball Park. He hunched over with his head down under a boiling sun. Fans gawked. They shot photos and videos. They screamed his name.

Kershaw remained seated in the grass. He was about to make his 374th career regular-season start and second since coming off the injured list. He was getting another chance to help the Dodgers chase down the San Francisco Giants in the National League West. It’s all he wanted after forearm inflammation sidelined him for more than two months.

He ran with the opportunity in vintage, if abbreviated, fashion in the Dodgers’ 8-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds. The left-hander limited the Reds (77-73) to one run and three hits and accumulated eight strikeouts without a walk over five innings.

“It’s another good building block, and got a couple more before the playoffs,” Kershaw said. “So it was a good step overall.”

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Dodgers defeat the Reds, 8-5

Dodgers: Right-hander Jeff Hoffman now pitching for the Reds. Matt Beaty, batting for Treinen, flied to right. Betts walked on seven pitches. T.Turner singled to left, Betts to second. J.Turner singled to short, Betts scoring on Farmer’s throwing error, T.Turner to third. Max Muncy, batting for Pujols, was hit just above the right elbow by a pitch. He appears to be fine. Bases are loaded with one out. Seager walked on six pitches, scoring T.Turner. Smith struck out swinging. Taylor grounded to the pitcher.

Reds: Muncy at first base. Right-hander Kenley Jansen now pitching for the Dodgers. Suarez flied to right. Joey Votto, batting for Hoffman, homered to right. Mike Moustakas, batting for Barrero, struck out swinging. Barnhart struck out swinging.

Final score: Dodgers 8, Reds 5

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We go to the ninth, 6-4 Dodgers

Dodgers: Left-hander Amir Garrett now pitching for the Reds. Smith walked on six pitches. Taylor struck out looking. Lux grounded into a 1-6-3 double play.

Reds: Barnhart flied to center. Friedl singled to center. India doubled to left, scoring Friedl. And that’s it for Gonsolin. Right-hander Blake Treinen is now pitching for the Dodgers. India stole third. Farmer struck out swinging. Castellanos singled to right. Stephenson struck out swinging.

Score after eight: Dodgers 6, Reds 4

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It’s 6-2 Dodgers after seven

Dodgers: Friedl in at left field. Right-hander Art Warren now pitching for the Reds. J.Turner struck out swinging. Pujols grounded to second. Seager flied to center.

Reds: Suarez walked on seven pitches. Max Schrock, batting for Warren, lined into a double play. Barrero struck out swinging.

Score after seven: Dodgers 6, Reds 2

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Reds close gap to 6-2 after six

Dodgers: Left-hander Justin Wilson now pitching for the Reds. Lux singled to second. While attempting to bunt, Kershaw popped to the pitcher. Lux took second on a wild pitch. Betts flied to right. T.Turner popped to second.

Reds: Right-hander Tony Gonsolin now pitching for the Dodgers. TJ Friedl, batting for Wilson, homered to right. India grounded to third. Farmer flied to center. Castellanos walked on seven pitches. Stephenson struck out looking.

Score after six: Dodgers 6, Reds 2

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It’s 6-1 Dodgers after five

Dodgers: Pujols fouled to first. Seager walked on four pitches. Smith struck out swinging. Taylor struck out looking.

Reds: Aquino struck out swinging. Barrero flied to center. Barnhart struck out looking.

Score after five: Dodgers 6, Reds 1

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Reds get on the scoreboard in the fourth inning

Dodgers: Right-hander Tony Santillan now pitching for the Reds. Betts flied to center. T.Turner struck out looking. J.Turner flied to right.

Reds: Farmer grounded to third. Castellanos doubled to left. Castellanos took third on a wild pitch. Stephenson grounded to short, scoring Castellanos. Suarez struck out swinging.

Score after four: Dodgers 6, Reds 1

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Dodgers take 6-0 lead thanks to Seager homer, Lux single

Dodgers: J.Turner flied to center. Pujols walked on four pitches. Seager homered to right-center, estimated at 420 feet. Smith grounded to short. Taylor doubled to left. Lux singled to center, Taylor scoring. Kershaw lined to center.

Reds: Jose Barrero struck out swinging. Tucker Barnhart singled to right-center. Delino DeShields, batting for Miley, grounded to third, forcing Barnhart. India struck out swinging.

Score after three: Dodgers 6, Reds 0

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Dodgers take 3-0 lead on homers by Smith and Lux

Dodgers: Corey Seager singled to right. Seager was picked off first. Will Smith homered to left, estimated at 361 feet. Chris Taylor singled to right. Gavin Lux homered to right, estimated at 391 feet. Clayton Kershaw struck out swinging. Betts beat out a bouncer to third. T.Turner grounded to third.

Reds: Tyler Stephenson singled to third. Eugenio Suarez grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. Aristides Aquino struck out swinging.

Score after two: Dodgers 3, Reds 0

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No score after the first inning

Dodgers: Left-hander Wade Miley pitching for the Reds. Mookie Betts singled to center. Trea Turner struck out swinging. Justin Turner grounded to third, forcing T.Turner. Albert Pujols grounded to the pitcher.

Reds: Left-hander Clayton Kershaw pitching for the Dodgers. Jonathan India struck out swinging. Kyle Farmer struck out swinging. Nick Castellanos flied to right.

Score after one: Dodgers 0, Reds 0

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Clayton Kershaw to take the mound in Cincinnati

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw heads to the dugout.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw heads to the dugout after pitching 4.1 innings against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 13.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

CINCINNATI — Clayton Kershaw will make his second start since coming off the injured list Saturday against the Reds.

Kershaw gave up a run on four hits across 4 1/3 innings Monday against the Diamondbacks. He had missed the previous two months with forearm inflammation.

The plan is for Tony Gonsolin to piggyback Kershaw.

DODGERS (95-54)
Mookie Betts RF
Trea Turner 2B
Justin Turner 3B
Albert Pujols 1B
Corey Seager SS
Will Smith C
Chris Taylor CF
Gavin Lux LF
Clayton Kershaw P

REDS (77-72)
Jonathan India 2B
Kyle Farmer SS
Nick Castellanos RF
Tyler Stephenson 1B
Eugenio Suárez 3B
Aristedes Aquino LF
Jose Barrero CF
Tucker Barnhart C
Wade Miley P

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No opponent can touch Max Scherzer, who dominated the Reds in a 5-1 Dodgers win

Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer prepares to throw against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)

CINCINNATI — The chasm between Max Scherzer and every other pitcher in the major leagues at the moment, in the thick of a tight division race featuring the teams with the best records in baseball, was evident in the Dodgers’ 5-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds at a sweltering Great American Ball Park on Saturday afternoon.

In the early innings Scherzer wasn’t particularly sharp, by his standards, against a potent Reds lineup. His command was off. The door was cracked open for the Reds to crash his Dodgers honeymoon and become the first team to pound Scherzer since he was acquired from the Washington Nationals on July 30.

But Scherzer didn’t yield. He relied on his curveball, historically his fourth-best pitch, to put hitters away and keep the Reds off the scoreboard.

It wasn’t until the fourth inning, after surrendering a four-pitch leadoff walk to Joey Votto, that he found a rhythm and the Reds (77-72) weren’t going to disrupt it. When he was lifted, he had fired another seven scoreless innings, extending his streak without surrendering an earned run to 37 innings going back to Aug. 21.

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Mookie Betts drives in another run as Dodgers beat Reds 5-1

Highlights from the Dodgers’ 5-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.

Mookie Betts hit a run-scoring off Reds reliever Amir Garrett in the ninth inning to help give the Dodgers a 5-1 win.

Betts’ rocket to left field plated Austin Barnes, who reached base on a walk. Albert Pujols then singled to third to move Barnes into scoring position. A Trea Turner lineout to short capped the frame.

Reds: Dodgers reliever Alex Vesia walked Joey Votto with two outs before Mike Moustakas singled to right to put runners on the corners. A throwing error by Corey Seager on a routine play to first allowed Kyle Farmer to reach first and plated Votto. The Dodgers then put Kenley Jansen on the mound, and he promptly struck out Eugenio Suarez to close out the game.

The Dodgers improved to 95-54 and Cincinnati fell to 77-72. The two teams wrap up their three-game series Sunday at 10:10 a.m. PDT. Clayton Kershaw (9-7, 3.33 ERA) is scheduled to start for the Dodgers opposite Wade Miley (12-5, 3.09 ERA).

Final score: Dodgers 5, Reds 1

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Joe Kelly takes over after another dominant Max Scherzer performance

Dodgers starting pitcher Max Scherzer delivers in the first inning Saturday.
(Dylan Buell / Getty Images)

Dodgers: Reds reliever Art Warren struck out Trea Turner and Max Muncy before Justin Turner singled to center field. Warren then picked up his third strikeout against Chris Taylor.

Reds: Dodgers starter Max Scherzer gives way to reliever Joe Kelly after yet another dominating performance by the veteran starter. Jorge Castillo and Bill Shaikin break down how great Scherzer has been:

Kelly retired the Reds in order, with Delino DeShields and Jonathan India grounding out and TJ Friedl popping out to second. Amir Garrett will pitch the ninth for Cincinnati.

End of the eighth: Dodgers 4, Reds 0

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Max Scherzer continuing to dominate against the Reds

Dodgers: Jeff Hoffman relieved Sonny Gray on the mound for the Reds, retiring the Dodgers in order. Gray allowed four earned runs, five hits, walked two and struck out five over six innings.

Reds: Max Scherzer has gotten better as the game has progressed. He has retired the last 11 Cincinnati batters in order.

End of the seventh: Dodgers 4, Reds 0

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Dodgers take 4-0 lead on Chris Taylor’s sacrifice bunt

Dodgers starter Max Scherzer delivers during the first inning Saturday.
(Dylan Buell / Getty Images)

A speedy Trea Turner scored from third on a sacrifice bunt by Chris Taylor off Reds pitcher Sonny Gray to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead in the sixth inning.

Turner reached base on a sharp grounder to third that ricocheted off Reds third baseman Mike Moustakas’ glove, potentially stopping a multi-base hit down the left-field line. Gray then walked Max Muncy and Justin Turner moved Trea Turner to third on a fielder’s choice groundout that snagged Muncy at second base.

Gray then struck out Austin Barnes on three pitches for the third out.

Reds: Max Scherzer retires Cincinnati’s batters in order again. He’s allowed two hits and two walks and struck out seven on 86 pitches.

End of the sixth: Dodgers 4, Reds 0

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Gavin Lux jump starts Dodgers’ offense in the fifth inning

Dodgers left fielder Gavin Lux hits a two-run triple against the Reds in the fifth inning.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)

Gavin Lux hit a two-run triple and Austin Barnes drove in another run on a groundout to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead in the fifth inning.

Lux sent a laser down the right-field line for his fourth triple of the season, scoring Justin Turner and and Chris Taylor. Turner opened the inning with a double to left and Chris Taylor reached base on a hit. A throwing error by Reds third baseman Mike Moustakas on the play allowed Turner to take third and moved Taylor to second.

Lux later scored from third when a short, infield bobbler by Barnes gave him enough time to slide into home.

After Max Scherzer struck out to go to 0 for 54 on the second at the plate, Mookie Betts reached first when Reds first baseman Joey Votto failed to make a routine catch. A popout by Corey Seager on the next at-bat closed out the frame.

Reds: Scherzer retired Cincinnati in order, picking up his seventh strikeout along the way.

End of the fifth: Dodgers 3, Reds 0

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Home plate umpire leaves game after feeling lightheaded

Cincinnati's Kyle Farmer singles during the second inning Saturday.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)

Home plate Brian O’Nora left the ballgame in the middle of the fourth inning after feeling lightheaded, according to the SportsNet L.A. broadcast. Fieldin Culbreth, who was umpiring at second, will move to behind home plate. There will only be three umpires on the field for the remainder of the game. Play resumed after an 11-minute delay.

Dodgers: Trea Turner got the Dodgers’ first hit of the game on a single to third, but was left on base when Max Muncy struck out to end the frame. Turner’s speed was key in allowing him to reach base on a play that easily could have been ruled an error after Reds third baseman Mike Moustakas bobbled the ball before throwing to first. Unless the official scorekeeper has a change of heart, the play ended Reds starter Sonny Gray’s no-hitter.

Reds: Joey Votto drew his second walk of the game and fourth of the series before Mike Moustakas popped out to short. Max Scherzer struck out Kyle Farmer and got Tucker Barnhart on a full-count swing for his sixth strikeout.

End of the fourth: Dodgers 0, Reds 0

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Dodgers still looking for their first hit off Sonny Gray

Cincinnati starter Sonny Gray delivers during the first inning Saturday.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)

Dodgers: The Dodgers are still looking for their first hit against Reds starter Sonny Gray. Gavin Lux and Austin Barnes each flied out before Max Scherzer fell to 0 for 53 on the season at the plate when his dribbler up the middle wasn’t enough to bag him his first hit of 2021.

Reds: Jonathan India hit a one-out double off Max Scherzer but was left stranded.

End of the third: Dodgers 0, Reds 0

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Cody Bellinger diagnosed with rib fracture after collision with Gavin Lux

Los Angeles Dodgers' Cody Bellinger bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sept. 13.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

CINCINNATI — Cody Bellinger’s nightmare season took another turn for the worse Saturday when a test revealed a non-displaced fracture in his ribs, according to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

The manager said Bellinger sustained the injury when he collided with Gavin Lux in left-center field against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday at Dodger Stadium.

Bellinger was playing center field. Lux was playing left field for the fourth time in the majors and the fifth time in his professional career — all over the previous week — because the Dodgers’ options were limited and Lux provided an offensive spark.

Both players are seen calling for the ball. The center fielder’s call often overrides the corner outfielders’ calls, but Lux didn’t stop. He made the catch, striking Bellinger in the face with his glove and Bellinger’s left rib area with his elbow.

“That’s where we’re at,” Roberts said when asked about Lux’s inexperience in the outfield playing a role in the collision. “Where we’re at, we don’t have any other options. So, that happened. He was good offensively to help us win games.

If the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants finish the regular season with the same record, they’ll play a one-game tiebreaker Oct. 4 at Oracle Park.

“So, it’s how you look at it. You can spin it one way and say that he was out there and Cody gets hurt and he shouldn’t have been in there. and we could say that he was in there because he had to, and he helped us win. So, it’s however people want to spin it.”

The incident didn’t ring alarms. Bellinger stayed in the game and played the Dodgers’ next three games in their entirety. But Roberts said Bellinger had mentioned he was sore. The pain peaked Friday, leading to the decision to have Bellinger undergo tests.

Roberts said Bellinger’s fracture shouldn’t get worse and his availability will depend on his pain tolerance. He said he expects Bellinger to play in Sunday’s series finale against the Reds.

“He said it’s more when he’s throwing,” Roberts said. “It’s the left side so when he’s throwing in the outfield and right now it’s just sore. So, I’m sure there might be something with the swinging, too. So just to give it a day to let it calm down.”

This is the second time within the past year that Bellinger has had to play through an injury caused by a teammate. Last year, he separated his shoulder in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series when he and Kiké Hernández mashed forearms. Bellinger remained in the game and played in all six World Series games, but he underwent surgery in November and wasn’t ready for the start of spring training.

He encountered another obstacle in early April when a pitcher stepped on his left leg and fractured his fibula. He missed nearly two months. He was placed then on the injured list with a hamstring strain three weeks after returning from the fibula fracture and missed 11 days.

The disjointed season has fueled dismal production on the field. Two years after being named National League MVP, Bellinger is hitting .159 with nine home runs and a .529 on-base-percentage. His batting average ranks worst in the majors among players with at least 300 plate appearances. His OPS is second from the bottom.

The struggles forced Bellinger to adjust his stance last week. He’s lowered his hands and widened his legs to simplify his swing. The change helped generate better at-bats and more hard-hit balls, but with some bad luck, he’s still gone just 3 for 18 in his previous six games.

It turns out he was also dealing with fractured ribs, adding another chapter to a miserable season.

“I think that if you look at all the things that have happened, you have to be sensitive to him and the emotions, but I just don’t think it’s beneficial, the ‘woe is me,’” Roberts said. “Because it’s part of life, it’s baseball and this is what’s going on with him.

“But he’s got to focus on what he can do to help us win. Not to be insensitive at all, but I just don’t want to put that out there and I don’t want him to feel sorry for himself because I know he doesn’t, and he shouldn’t.”

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Dodgers and Reds scoreless heading into the third inning

Dodgers second baseman Trea Turner fields a ball during the third inning Saturday.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)

Dodgers: Reds starter Sonny Gray struck out Max Muncy after the first baseman bit on a perfectly placed curveball. Justin Turner then grounded out to short before Chris Taylor, who is making his first start for the Dodgers since Sept. 10, flied out to center field. Six up and six down so far for the Dodgers.

Reds: Joey Votto drew his third walk of the series against the Dodgers to lead off. Kyle Farmer then hit a one-out infield dribbler toward second that was slow enough to give him a base hit and move Votto to second. Dodgers pitcher Max Scherzer struck out Tucker Barnhart and got Delino DeShields to ground out to second to end the scoring threat.

End of the second: Dodgers 0, Reds 0

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Max Scherzer retires the Reds in order to start the game

Dodgers at the plate: The Dodgers go down in order in the top frame, with Mookie Betts flying out to center field, Corey Seager grounding out and Trea Turner popping out to second base. Cincinnati starter Sonny Gray needed 11 pitches to get through the inning.

Reds at the plate: It’s a 1-2-3 inning for Dodgers starter Max Scherzer. Jonathan India and Max Schrock each flied out before Scherzer struck out Nick Castellanos.

End of the first: Dodgers 0, Reds 0

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Chris Taylor returns to Dodgers’ lineup Saturday

Los Angeles Dodgers' Chris Taylor hits an RBI single against the San Francisco Giants.
Chris Taylor hits a run-scoring single for the Dodgers against the San Francisco Giants on Sept. 3.
(Tony Avelar / Associated Press)

CINCINNATI — Chris Taylor is back in the Dodgers’ lineup Saturday against the Reds for the first time since aggravating a neck injury Sept. 10.

Taylor had been dealing with a pinched nerve in his neck, and the pain became worse when he dove for a ball against the Padres last week. He didn’t appear in a game again until Friday when he pinch-hit in the seventh inning of the Dodgers’ 3-1 loss to the Reds.

Taylor will play center field and bat sixth against Reds right-hander Sonny Gray. Gavin Lux will start in left field after being scratched from Friday’s lineup just before the game after getting hit by a pitch from a pitching machine. Cody Bellinger will start the game on the bench.

In a slight change from most recent lineups, Corey Seager will bat second and Max Muncy will bat fourth.

DODGERS (94-54)
Mookie Betts RF
Corey Seager SS
Trea Turner 2B
Max Muncy 1B
Justin Turner 3B
Chris Taylor CF
Gavin Lux LF
Austin Barnes C
Walker Buehler P

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Dodgers lose to Reds in potential wild-card preview, fall two games behind in West

Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner bats against the Cincinnati Reds in a 3-1 loss Friday.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)

CINCINNATI — The Dodgers and Cincinnati Reds opened a three-game series Friday night that doubled as a possible National League wild-card game preview. For the Reds, a club fighting for any postseason invitation, playing in that game would represent an accomplishment. For the Dodgers, the defending World Series champions with the second-best record in the majors, it could become a nightmare as displayed Friday.

The Reds rode two hits from the bottom of their lineup, Luis Castillo muzzled the Dodgers’ offense for 6 1/3 innings, and the Dodgers ran out of outs against a susceptible bullpen in a swift 3-1 loss at Great American Ball Park.

The result, produced in just 2 hours 34 minutes, ended the Dodgers’ six-game winning streak and dropped them two games behind the San Francisco Giants for first place in the NL West with 14 games remaining after the Giants rallied to beat the Atlanta Braves 6-5 in 11 innings.

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Dodgers open road trip with 3-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds

Highlights from the Dodgers’ 3-1 road loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night.

Dodgers’ Matt Beaty hit a run-scoring single with two outs in the ninth off Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen, but it was too little, too late to hold off a 3-1 loss in Cincinnati.

Albert Pujols flied out to center field with Beaty on second to end the game. The Dodgers went one for 9 at the plate with runners on base, struggling in situational hitting throughout the game.

The Dodgers dropped to 94-54 and are two games out of first place in the NL West behind the San Francisco Giants.

Luis Castillo earned the win for Cincinnati, throwing 6 1/3 scoreless innings, giving up five hits and striking out 10. Walker Buehler got the loss, allowing three earned runs, six hits and striking out five over six innings.

The Dodgers and Reds continue their series Saturday at 11:10 a.m. PDT.

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Dodgers look to rally from three-run deficit in the ninth

Dodgers: Reds reliever Luis Cessa retires the Dodgers in order, with Corey Seager hitting a deep fly to the warning track in center field that Delino DeShields managed to grab.

Reds: Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol hit Jesse Winker with a pitch to lead off the inning, but retired the next three Cincinnati batters to send the game into the ninth inning.

End of the eighth: Reds 3, Dodgers 0

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Dodgers trail 3-0 heading into the eighth inning

Dodgers: Reds starter Luis Castillo received a standing ovation from the Great American Ballpark crowd after leaving the game with one out in the seventh inning. He allowed no runs on five hits, two walks and struck out 10. Castillo left after Matt Beaty singled to center field.

Facing Reds reliever Luis Cessa, Chris Taylor and Mookie Betts hit the ball deep, but Cincinnati got underneath them to make it another scoreless inning for the Dodgers.

Reds: Corey Knebel took over for Walker Buehler on the mound, striking out Delino DeShields and Eugenio Suarez before Jonathan India lined out to short. Buehler allowed three earned runs, six hits, walked two and struck out five over six innings.

End of the seventh: Reds 3, Dodgers 0

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Reds extend their lead in the sixth inning

Cincinnati’s Kyle Farmer hit a two-run double off Dodgers starter Walker Buehler to give the Reds a 3-1 lead in the sixth inning.

Nick Castellanos and Joey Votto, who hit singles earlier in the inning, scored off Farmer’s hit into the left field corner. Farmer, a former Dodger, has two doubles on the night.

Tucker Barnhard flied out to right fielder after Farmer’s double to end the frame.

Dodgers: Trea Turner hit a one-out single to center and moved to second on a soft single against the shift to third by Corey Seager. They were left stranded when Justin Turner and Will Smith each flied out.

End of the sixth: Reds 3, Dodgers 1

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Reds take 1-0 lead on Tucker Barnhart’s run-scoring single

Cincinnati's Tucker Barnhart hits a run-scoring single during the fifth inning.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)

Cincinnati’s Tucker Barnhart hit a run-scoring single off Dodgers starter Walker Buehler to give the Reds a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning.

Kyle Farmer led off the inning with a double down the right-field line, and he beat Cody Bellinger’s throw home from center on Barnhart’s hit. Buehler limited the damage by striking out Jonathan India to end the inning. Buehler has allowed three hits and struck out five over 73 pitches.

Dodgers: Buehler drew a one-out walk, but went nowhere when Matt Beaty grounded out and Cody Bellinger struck out. Luis Castillo has struck out eight and allowed two hits over 86 pitches.

End of the fifth: Reds 1, Dodgers 0

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Dodgers and Reds remain scoreless heading into the fifth inning

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Luis Castillo throws against the Dodgers in the first inning.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)

Dodgers: Corey Seager singled on a line drive to center field, but he was left stranded when Justin Turner grounded out and Will Smith struck out. Reds starter Luis Castillo has seven strikeouts so far and the Reds have thrown 13 consecutive scoreless innings.

Reds: Joey Votto drew his second walk of the game against Walker Buehler, but didn’t get far when Mike Moustakas hit into an unassisted double play by Max Muncy at first.

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Walker Buehler in control through three innings

Dodgers starter Walker Buehler delivers during the first inning Friday.
(Dylan Buell / Getty Images)

Dodgers: It’s another 1-2-3 inning for the Dodgers. Reds pitcher Luis Castillo is already up to six strikeouts after getting Walker Buehler and Mookie Betts to strike out.

Reds: Jonathan India hit a two-out single off Walker Buehler before Jesse Winker grounded out to Buehler to end the inning. Buehler stands at 43 pitches through three innings.

End of the third: Dodgers 0, Reds 0

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Dodgers and Reds still scoreless after two innings

Mookie Betts slides into second base after hitting a leadoff double in the first inning Friday.
(Aaron Doster / Associated Press)

Dodgers: Reds starter Luis Castillo looked sharp early, striking out Will Smith on three pitches before striking out Matt Beaty for his fourth strikeout of the game. Beaty is filling in for Gavin Lux, who was scratched before the game because of a right forearm injury.

Reds: Walker Buehler walked Joey Votto to start the inning before striking out Mike Moustakas and Kyle Farmer. Tucker Barnhart then grounded out to Walker to cap the inning.

End of the second: Dodgers 0, Reds 0

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Chris Taylor to play Saturday; AJ Pollock return approaching

Los Angeles Dodgers' AJ Pollock bats during a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies.
Dodgers left fielder AJ Pollock bats against the Colorado Rockies on Aug. 29.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

CINCINNATI — Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters Friday that Chris Taylor, out since last Friday with a neck injury, is expected to start Saturday.

Taylor later confirmed the plan. The All-Star explained that he had been dealing with a pinched nerve in his neck for some time before diving for a ball in the last game he appeared in, Sept. 10 against the Padres. He said the dive created whiplash that aggravated the injury.

Taylor’s injury has forced the Dodgers to play Cody Bellinger and Gavin Lux almost exclusively in center field and left field every day since the team was already without AJ Pollock.

Pollock suffered a Grade 2 right hamstring strain Sept. 4. Roberts said he expects Pollock to come off the injured list after the Dodgers’ three-game series next week against the Rockies in Denver.

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Mookie Betts left stranded after leadoff double vs. Reds

Dodgers at the plate: Mookie Betts hit a leadoff double off the right-field wall, but he went no further after Red starting pitcher Luis Castillo struck out Max Muncy and Trea Turner before Justin Turner grounded out.

Reds at the plate: Walker Buehler retired Cincinnati on nine pitches, sending down Jonathan India, Jesse Winker and Nick Castellanos in order.

End of the first: Dodgers 0, Reds 0

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Gavin Lux scratched from Dodgers’ lineup with forearm injury

Los Angeles Dodgers' Gavin Lux scores against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Dodgers baserunner Gavin Lux scores against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sept. 13.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

CINCINNATI — The Dodgers announced Gavin Lux was scratched from their starting lineup Friday minutes before first pitch because of a right forearm injury.

Lux was slated to bat eighth and play left field. Matt Beaty replaced him in both spots.

The 23-year-old former top prospect has been a bright spot for the Dodgers since rejoining the club this month after three weeks in the minors.

In six games, all in left field, Lux is 7 for 17 (.412) with a double and three walks in 21 plate appearances.

Here’s the updated lineup:

Mookie Betts RF
Max Muncy 1B
Trea Turner 2B
Corey Seager SS
Justin Turner 3B
Will Smith C
Cody Bellinger CF
Matt Beaty LF
Walker Buehler P

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Chris Taylor (neck) remains out of Dodgers’ lineup vs. Reds

Los Angeles Dodgers Chris Taylor prepares to bat during a baseball game.
Chris Taylor prepares to bat for the Dodgers against the San Diego Padres on Sept. 10.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

CINCINNATI — Chris Taylor was not included in the Dodgers’ lineup for their series opener against the Reds on Friday as he continues to deal with a neck injury.

Taylor hasn’t appeared in a game in a week, playing the entirety of a win over the Padres on Sept. 10. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts on Wednesday said Taylor had improved enough to not yet warrant a trip to the injured list.

The Dodgers enter Friday a game behind the Giants for first place in the National League West. Los Angeles and San Francisco are the only teams to have clinched a playoff spot in the majors so far.

The Reds are in a four-team race for the second NL Wild Card spot, one game behind the St. Louis Cardinals after snapping a four-game losing streak Thursday.

The three-game series at Great America Ballpark, as a result, may be a Wild Card game preview. That elimination game is scheduled for Oct. 6.

DODGERS (94-53)
Mookie Betts RF
Max Muncy 1B
Trea Turner 2B
Corey Seager SS
Justin Turner 3B
Will Smith C
Cody Bellinger CF
Gavin Lux LF
Walker Buehler P

REDS (76-71)
Jonathan India 2B
Jesse Winker CF
Nick Castellanos RF
Joey Votto 1B
Mike Moustakas 3B
Kyle Farmer SS
Tucker Barnhart C
Max Schrock LF
Luis Castillo P

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Why a tiebreaker would be the worst-case scenario for the Dodgers (and Giants)

San Francisco's Buster Posey scores in front of Dodgers catcher Will Smith during a game on Sept. 3.
(Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images)

The Dodgers entered Friday’s series opener against the Cincinnati Reds one game behind the San Francisco Giants with 15 games remaining. The teams could, by the end of the day, be in a tie for first place in the National League West.

So, what happens if they finish the season with the same record? Well, the same thing that happened in 2018 when the Dodgers and Colorado Rockies completed their 162-game schedules with even records.

The Dodgers and Rockies played a tiebreaker the day after they each finished the regular season 91-71. Game 163 (it counted as part of the regular season) was held at Dodger Stadium because the Dodgers won the season series. The Dodgers won and ended up advancing to the World Series where they lost to the Boston Red Sox.

This year, the Dodgers would not have home-field advantage in a tiebreaker. The Giants took two of three games in the rivals’ last series of the season to eke out a 10-9 season series victory.

The game, as a result, would be held Oct. 4 at Oracle Park. The winner would advance to the National League Division Series and get some time off. The loser would host the NL wild card game Oct. 6, meaning that club would play three games in four days. The two NLDS are scheduled to begin Oct. 8.

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Betting odds and lines for Dodgers vs. Reds on Friday

The Dodgers find themselves in a familiar spot as a sizable road favorite with Walker Buehler taking the mound Friday against the Cincinnati Reds.

Buehler has pitched at least six innings in 27 of his last 29 starts with a 14-3 record and a 2.32 ERA.

The Reds are 4-3 in seven starts Luis Castillo has made as a home underdog since April 2018. He opened at DraftKings as a +150 underdog and was +155 overnight.

Castillo’s 15 losses lead the league but after the team went 1-9 in his first 10 starts, posting a 7.61 ERA during that span, the team is 9-11 in his last 20 starts, and his ERA is at 2.93 over that span.

The recent play of Castillo coupled with his lifetime 3.24 lifetime ERA in Cincinnati is why this total opened at nine and stayed put even though the Reds’ 5.5 runs per game at home are the second-most in the National League behind only the Colorado Rockies.

The Reds have scored four runs or fewer in nine of their last 10 games. The Dodgers have played just six of their last 29 games over the total with their 2.31 bullpen ERA over the past month being the best in MLB.

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ICYMI: Dodgers sweep Diamondbacks to finally trim Giants’ NL West lead

Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy celebrates with his teammates after hitting a solo home run.
Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy celebrates with his teammates after hitting a solo home run off of Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Merrill Kelly in the fifth inning Wednesday.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Their pursuit of the San Francisco Giants was beginning to feel like a Sisyphean task for the Dodgers, who couldn’t seem to gain ground on the National League West leaders no matter how well they played.

The Dodgers won the first five games of their six-game homestand and couldn’t cut into San Francisco’s lead. They won seven of nine entering Wednesday and actually lost ground because the Giants had won nine straight.

But the Giants finally slipped Wednesday night, and the Dodgers took advantage, pushing that huge stone closer to the top of the hill with a 5-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in front of a crowd of 46,520 in Chavez Ravine.

The Dodgers’ sixth straight win, combined with San Francisco’s 9-6 loss to San Diego, moved the Dodgers to within 1 1/2 games of the Giants with 15 games left and marked the first time since Sept. 4 that the Dodgers had gained ground on their division rivals.

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