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Dodgers’ power squad roars to life late to steal win from Rockies

Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts hits a two-run home run during the eighth inning.
Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts hits a two-run home run during the eighth inning of a 10-6 win over the Colorado Rockies on Friday.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

The fake crowd went silent. The Colorado Rockies dugout came to life.

With two outs in the eighth inning Friday, and his team trailing by three runs, Rockies outfielder Kevin Pillar turned the game on its head, hammering a no-doubt grand slam to left field against Dodgers reliever Caleb Ferguson.

It felt like it should have been a death blow. The Rockies wildly celebrated it as such. After all, Colorado had breached the Dodgers’ dominant bullpen. They had taken the lead for the third time on the night. They had regained control with six outs to go.

Then the Dodgers simply stole the momentum back.

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In the next half-inning, AJ Pollock, Joc Pederson and Mookie Betts all hit homers, combining for five runs in a counter-attack that was swift as it was ruthless and sent the Dodgers to a 10-6 win.

“I don’t think there’s gonna be any game where we don’t feel like we have a chance,” Pollock said. “I don’t think we’re lacking confidence … We know we’re always in it and if we can get a couple guys on, we got guys that can hit the ball out of the ballpark.”

Following Cody Bellinger’s leadoff single, Pollock hit a two-run blast the other way to turn a one-run deficit into a one-run lead. Pederson went deep in the next at-bat, skying a solo shot to right. Betts’ long ball, a two-run drive to left-center with two outs, seemed less like insurance and more like a statement, reminding the Dodgers’ NL West rivals and potential first-round playoff opponent of why they are winning games at a near-historic pace.

“I’d be hard-pressed to find a team that’s equipped to do what we do,” manager Dave Roberts said, adding, “Some big offensive nights from some guys. Some big hits. The defense again solid. Just a fun game to be a part of.”

In the seventh inning, it seemed as though Will Smith had delivered the decisive hit, breaking open a 2-2 tie with a two-run homer to left. The Dodgers even added another run in the inning on a Corey Seager sacrifice fly.

But in a rare moment of weakness from the Dodgers bullpen, Brusdar Graterol and Ferguson couldn’t escape the top of the eighth. Graterol hit Josh Fuentes to begin the inning, then walked Nolan Arenado with two outs. That prompted Roberts to turn to the left-handed Ferguson, but after Charlie Blackmon reached on a swinging bunt in the infield, Pillar clobbered the go-ahead grand slam.

Dodgers reliever Victor González almost gave up on playing in the major leagues. Support from his family and Julio Urías turned his career around.

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As the empty ballpark went silent, fake crowd quickly being turned down to a murmur, shouting from the Rockies dugout filled the void.

While the Dodgers are cruising toward the postseason, having matched a franchise record with their 30-10 start and owning what would be the second-highest winning percentage (.750) in modern MLB history, the Rockies (18-20) were clinging to the last National League postseason position — which, if the playoffs started now, would see them face the top-seeded Dodgers.

For a fleeting moment, Pillar’s slam seemed like a potential turning point in their season.

Instead, it became another footnote in the Dodgers’ commanding campaign.

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“There was a lot of energy on the other side, which I get, I love,” Roberts said. “But for us to respond the way we did, certainly not a surprise but always good to see.”

Friday’s game between the Dodgers and Colorado Rockies was stopped briefly in the second inning after a drone was spotted above Dodger Stadium.

Much earlier in the night, starter Dustin May continued to build his case for cracking the Dodgers’ postseason rotation. For the eighth straight time to open the season, the 22-year-old right-hander allowed no more than two runs, limiting the Rockies to a pair of solo homers over 5 ⅔ innings in which he mastered his off-speed slurve pitch and recorded five strikeouts.

“That was the biggest step forward that I’ve taken with my breaking ball in a long time,” May said. “That’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve had on the mound, being able to land the breaking ball, because it’s never really been there.”

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But it’s the Dodgers’ offense, particularly late in games, that continues to lead the way, recording a season-high 15 hits Friday as they became the first team to eclipse the plus-100 run differential mark in MLB this season. No other club is better than plus-55.

“We do a good job of knowing where we need to look to really do some damage up there, not just slap it around,” Pollock said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that can drive the ball and it’s fun when you get everyone rolling.”

Three takeaways on the Dodgers

  • Dustin May still hasn’t given up more than two runs in a start this season, limiting the Rockies to a pair of solo homers over 5 2/3 innings Friday. May also recorded five strikeouts, his second-most in a game this season.
  • The Dodgers hit five home runs, with AJ Pollock and Joc Pederson going deep in back-to-back at-bats in the eighth inning to erase a Rockies lead. As a team, the Dodgers have homered in 32 of their 40 games.
  • Kevin Pillar’s grand slam capped an eighth inning neither Brusdar Graterol nor Caleb Ferguson could escape. Ferguson gave up the slam. It is the third time this season (excluding extra innings) the bullpen has given up four earned runs.

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