Gavin Lux hits key three-run blast in Dodgers’ comeback win over Mariners

Two Dodgers players approach each other with hands raised to celebrate
The Dodgers’ Gavin Lux is congratulated by Chris Taylor after hitting a three-run homer in the eighth inning. The Dodgers rallied for a 6-4 win over the Seattle Mariners.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Gavin Lux pounded his chest three times and roared at his teammates before his three-run homer even landed Tuesday night, the no-doubt-about-it blast sending the Dodgers hurtling toward a dramatic 6-4 come-from-behind win over the Seattle Mariners in Chavez Ravine.

Lux, whose offensive struggles have mirrored those of an underachieving club that had lost 15 of 20 games, glided around the basepaths, tapped his helmet several times as he rounded third and was engulfed by teammates in the third-base dugout as a crowd of 15,570 went wild.

“Obviously, you could see the pent-up emotions inside of him come out, which is a good thing and something we want,” Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler said. “If he keeps hitting the ball like that, he can yell and scream whatever he pleases.”


Dodgers manager Dave Roberts indicated in early March that Lux would be his starting second baseman, saying he could see the Baseball America 2019 minor league player of the year “getting a good runway, playing regularly.”

But with Lux entering Tuesday night’s game with a .209 average, .515 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, no homers, one double and eight RBIs in 25 games, it was fair to ask Roberts how long that runway is.

“I don’t think you can really define what it is,” Roberts said. “For me, the defense has been very consistent. I see the at-bat quality getting better each day. And it’s not really, in Gavin’s particular case, about results. So I don’t really think there’s a game or a stat line that I’m looking at.”

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Though his job appears safe, Lux helped himself by producing a stat line worth looking at Tuesday night, hitting a key single in a two-run seventh inning and crushing a 97-mph fastball from Mariners reliever Rafael Montero 413 feet to right-center field for his game-winner in the eighth.

“Obviously, every win is important, and they all feel good, but they’re not all created equal,” Roberts said. “The way we came back and won a ballgame, how they did it — Gavin has been grinding, so for him to get that big hit was huge for him. It unlocked a lot of — not pressure, but kind of relief. I’m so happy for him.”

Trailing 4-3 with two out in the eighth, Chris Taylor lined a single to right off Montero — his third hit of the game — and pinch-hitter Matt Beaty was hit by a pitch. Lux then drove a 1-and-0 pitch from Montero for his homer, and Kenley Jansen struck out two of three batters in the ninth for his sixth save.

“It definitely felt good, especially in that situation,” Lux said. “We were chipping away at the lead, grinding out at-bats and competing pretty hard there. It felt good to get a good pitch to hit. Everyone competed hard tonight. It was a good team win.”

Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen delivers during the ninth inning of a 6-4 win over the Seattle Mariners.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Taylor and Lux also sparked the seventh-inning rally. Trailing 4-1, Taylor led off with a single, and Sheldon Neuse struck out. The left-handed-hitting Lux fell behind with a 1-2 count to Seattle left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who had struck out a career-high 11 in 6 1/3 innings.

With the infield shifted to the right side, Lux fought off a 91-mph cut fastball that was inside, fisting a grounder toward third for an infield single. Mariners manager Scott Servais pulled Kikuchi for another left-hander, Anthony Misiewicz, who walked pinch-hitter AJ Pollock to load the bases with one out.

Up stepped Mookie Betts, who fought his way back from an 0-and-2 count to 3-2, but on the ninth pitch of the at-bat, umpire Greg Gibson rang him up on a cut fastball that looked a full ball-width inside.

Unlike the two-on, no-outs situation the Dodgers failed to capitalize on in the second inning, this rally didn’t fizzle. Corey Seager hit a two-run single to right to trim the deficit to 4-3.

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Roberts described the Lux hit as more self-defense than an effort to stroke the ball the other way with an inside-out swing.

“When you’re not dialed in mechanically, you’re just gonna fight,” Roberts said. “Right there, left on left, it was a back-up breaking ball, and he just stayed inside of it. With the shift and two strikes, for him to put the ball in play and move it forward, we got a break.”

Lux went into survival mode when he fell behind in the count.

“He was tough tonight,” Lux said of Kikuchi. “He had a lot of things going good, a really good mix. I saw they were kind of shifting me, so I had some room on that side. It was a cutter inside, and it was more of a get-off-me swing that had some luck in there.”

The Dodgers, who got a 433-foot solo homer from Max Muncy in the fourth and a one-two-three eighth inning from left-hander Garrett Cleavinger, won for the first time this season when trailing after seven innings.

They lead the major leagues with 10 one-run losses and appeared destined for another soul-crushing defeat before rallying in the seventh and eighth innings.

“It’s been a tough couple weeks for us — there’s no way to sugarcoat it,” said Buehler, who gave up four hits, including two solo homers to Mitch Haniger in the first and fifth innings and a two-run shot to Kyle Seager in the fourth. “But a big hit and a big win for us can change the tide.”

Injury updates

Pollock (mild left-hamstring strain) did not start for a third straight game, but Roberts expects the outfielder to start Wednesday against Seattle or Friday against Miami.

David Price, out since April 26 because of a right-hamstring strain, threw off the Dodger Stadium mound and ran to cover first Tuesday, with Roberts saying the left-hander “looked really good. It didn’t seem like he was holding anything back.”

Price will face hitters this week and should need only one or two live batting-practice sessions before being activated. A return to his multi-inning relief role should boost an injury-ravaged bullpen that leads the major leagues with 12 blown saves, many charged to the untested arms that have filled in.

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Center fielder Cody Bellinger, out since April 6 because of a hairline fracture of his left fibula, posted another social-media video of himself running in Arizona on Tuesday, but Roberts said the slugger is still running at only 60%, so he’s not quite ready to begin a rehab stint.

“He’s progressing really nicely, his swing is good, and [after he ran] he had no pain,” Roberts said. “It’s very encouraging, but I don’t know how the timeline looks. He’ll have to take some at-bats, play defense and stand on his feet for nine innings, but each day it’s been better.”

Top pitching prospect Josiah Gray was scratched from his scheduled start for triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, and Roberts said the right-hander will undergo medical tests to determine the extent of his injury.