Cody Bellinger finds success at plate in Dodgers’ win over Phillies
There were sinkers and four-seam fastballs, changeups and cut-fastballs. Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Kyle Gibson threw everything he had at Cody Bellinger in the fourth inning Wednesday night, and the Dodgers center fielder refused to give in.
An easy out two weeks ago, Bellinger is finally beginning to emerge from a brutal, season long slump, providing further evidence in that fourth inning by capping a 13-pitch at-bat in which he fouled off seven two-strike pitches with a two-run homer to left-center field.
Bellinger’s first opposite-field homer since 2019 keyed a three-run rally, and his towering two-run shot to right in the ninth put the finishing touches on an 8-2 victory before a crowd of 32,186 in Citizens Bank Field, extending the Dodgers’ win streak to four games.
“We were both grinding — he was trying to make good pitches on me, and I continued to foul them off,” Bellinger said of the longest at-bat of his career. “He left one over the middle of the plate that I saw well and put a good swing on and barreled it up.”
The left-handed-hitting Bellinger has been slowed all season by his continued recovery from offseason right-shoulder surgery and a broken left fibula suffered in early April.
Trevor Bauer and his attorneys say the pitcher does not plan to discuss a financial settlement with the woman who has accused him of sexual assault.
He entered August with a .163 average, .548 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, five homers and 21 RBIs in 48 games, a far cry from his National League most valuable player season in 2019, when he hit .305 with a 1.035 OPS, 47 homers and 115 RBIs.
But Bellinger is regaining strength in his front shoulder and finding a more consistent swing path. He’s hitting .333 (10 for 30) in his last eight games and has hit four homers in his last four games.
“He’s been grinding, battling, trying to strengthen [the shoulder] and perform at a high level, and a lot of good things are happening,” manager Dave Roberts said. “You look at these last four games, he’s hit some home runs, but for us, it’s the at-bat quality, he’s swinging at strikes and competing. It’s really good to see.”
Bellinger’s timing couldn’t be better. While the Dodgers battled the Phillies, Mookie Betts flew back to Los Angeles to undergo further tests on his inflamed right hip, which sent him to the 10-day injured list again on Wednesday.
Betts missed the final two weeks of July with the hip injury, and there is no timetable for his return. He hit .381 (eight for 21) with three homers in five games after being activated on Aug. 1 and is batting .277 with an .899 OPS, 17 homers 25 doubles, 44 RBIs and 68 runs in 87 games on the season.
If the Dodgers are going to catch the San Francisco Giants, who are four games ahead of them in the NL West, they’ll have to do it without one of their most dynamic players for the next few weeks.
With Betts out, does Bellinger put more pressure on himself to make up for his absence?
“Yeah, most definitely, man,” he said. “I still have a lot of faith in a lot of the guys here, but losing a guy like that always hurts. You just try to stay in your approach and help the team win in multiple ways.”
David Price weathered a 53-minute rain delay between the second and third innings to throw four solid innings, and he capped the fourth-inning rally with an RBI double to right-center, the first extra-base hit of his 13-year career.
“That was really cool, getting that hit,” Price said. “My first double, my second RBI.”
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Price would have completed four scoreless innings had second baseman Trea Turner’s relay throw on Alec Bohm’s potential inning-ending double-play grounder not sailed over first baseman Max Muncy’s head.
Didi Gregorius doubled to left center to put runners on second and third with two outs, and Ronald Torreyes grounded a two-run single to center to cut the Dodgers’ lead to 3-2. The inning ended with Bellinger making a leaping catch of Odubel Herrera’s 406-foot drive at the wall.
The Dodgers broke the game open with a three-run seventh, scoring one run on Bohm’s fielding error at first, another on catcher Andrew Knapp’s passed ball and the third on AJ Pollock’s two-out RBI single to center.
Phil Bickford threw a scoreless fifth, Brusdar Graterol threw two perfect innings, striking out Odubel Herrera and Brad Miller with 100-mph fastballs, Blake Treinen struck out the side in the eighth, and Edwin Uceta threw a scoreless ninth, giving the bullpen 10 2/3 scoreless innings in the first two games here.
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