Before the Dodgers, the undisputed class of the National League, could shift their focus to the Atlanta Braves, their closest but still distant competition this side of the American League, they took the field at Marlins Park on Thursday thirsting for a resounding sweep over the circuit’s basement dwellers.
They had toyed with the Miami Marlins, owners of the National League’s lousiest record, the previous two nights, outscoring the the overmatched club by 22 runs. The drubbings were thorough and they were merciless. On Thursday, the Marlins returned the favor in a slow-moving 13-7 win that featured 11 pitchers tossing 383 pitches across 4 hours and 7 minutes in the longest nine-inning game in Marlins Park history.
The Marlins netted six runs in the fifth inning, chasing Dodgers starter Walker Buehler in the process, and five more in the sixth to create enough distance to absorb the Dodgers’ latest home run barrage. Their 13 runs matched the most the Dodgers (81-42) have allowed this season.
“It was just one of those days,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “It wasn’t a good day of pitching for us.”
Miami (45-74) pounded Los Angeles without slugging a home run while the Dodgers crushed four more. The Dodgers finished the series with 14 home runs — a franchise record for a three-game set — and have cracked at least four in four straight games, which established a new major-league record.
The only Marlins pitcher who slowed the Dodgers in their three meetings was Caleb Smith. It wasn’t pretty or efficient, but the left-hander held the Dodgers without a hit through four innings on 86 pitches. The tightrope act included three walks and a hit batter. It ended in the fifth inning when Kyle Garlick mashed a leadoff home run off the left-hander.
Buehler, meanwhile, encountered trouble with his command immediately. He began his outing by hitting Jon Berti with a pitch. Isan Diaz and Brian Anderson followed with singles to bring Berti around and give the Marlins a 1-0 lead. Berti reached base again in the third inning on a leadoff double and scored on Starlin Castro’s sacrifice fly. The two runs in three innings matched the Marlins’ output from the previous two games. Meanwhile, it was the first time a Dodgers starting pitcher allowed more than one run since Aug. 4 — a span of eight games.
Miami threatened for more in the fourth inning when Jorge Alfaro worked an eight-pitch walk to lead off the frame. Two batters later, however, Smith popped a bunt attempt up in the air. Third baseman Justin Turner and Buehler converged. Turner called Buehler off but let the ball drop and threw to second base to initiate an inning-ending double play, letting Buehler escape.
Buehler’s fortune evaporated n the fifth. After plunking Berti again and allowing an infield single to Diaz to start the frame, Anderson roped a double to the left-field wall. Both runners scored. That spelled the end for Buehler after 86 pitches. He was charged with five runs on five hits and three walks in four-plus innings.
The performance highlighted a pattern that has developed in Buehler’s first two full major league seasons: He has been significantly better at home than on the road. The right-hander owns a 4.37 earned-run average in 68 road innings while posting a 2.33 ERA in 73 1/3 innings at Dodger Stadium.
“There’s no way you can re-create it or do anything to replicate pitching on the road,” Buehler said. “I don’t think that’s something that’s attainable, but I think just trying to get better in general I think is going to translate.”
Roberts replaced Buehler with Pedro Baez, who hadn’t pitched in six days. Baez faced four batters, didn’t secure an out, and exited with the bases loaded. JT Chargois replaced him and promptly gave up a two-run double to Lewis Brinson. Right fielder Kristopher Negron face-planted on his dive attempt and exited the game bloodied.
The Dodgers responded with three runs in the sixth inning on home runs by Max Muncy and Corey Seager, who has homered in three straight games. Cody Bellinger added a three-run blast to the second deck in the seventh inning. It was his career-high 40th homer and moved him atop the major-league leaderboard.
“It’s kind of hard not to [follow the home run race],” Bellinger said. “I wouldn’t say it’s putting any more pressure to hit homers. Just trying to stay within myself every day and keep going.”
The Marlins, however, still held a six-run lead after tallying five runs in the sixth inning. In need of work, Kenley Jansen was inserted in the seventh inning anyway — the earliest he’s pitched in a regular season game since 2013 — after not appearing in a game since Saturday. He allowed a double but became the first pitcher to get more than one batter out and not surrender a run on either side. It was just about the only positive for the Dodgers’ pitching staff on a forgettable afternoon.