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Seven-run outburst, Andrew Heaney’s dominant start lead Dodgers to sixth straight win

Dodgers batter Freddie Freeman, left, runs to first after hitting off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tyler Mahle.
Freddie Freeman runs to first after hitting a two-run single off Cincinnati Reds pitcher Tyler Mahle in the fourth inning of the Dodgers’ 9-1 win Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
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There was a bloop single. Two walks. Three doubles. Six total hits. And a carousel around the bases.

By the time the fourth inning was over Sunday, the game effectively was too, the Dodgers riding a seven-run outburst against Cincinnati Reds starter Tyler Mahle to a 9-1 win at Dodger Stadium.

The victory was the sixth in a row for the Dodgers (7-2), who completed their second consecutive series sweep by following a familiar formula: They got good pitching, with starter Andrew Heaney striking out 11 over six scoreless innings, and their lineup came alive for one big frame, sending 11 batters to the plate during a relentless fourth.

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“That just shows what this lineup is capable of doing,” said Freddie Freeman, who led the Dodgers with four hits and three RBIs. “Every guy is pretty much a game-changer.”

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The onslaught began with a soft single from Freeman, followed by a walk from Trea Turner — the only time he reached base, snapping his 27-game hitting streak.

Max Muncy drove in both of them with a double into the right-field corner. After an infield single by Justin Turner, Will Smith lined a double to left to make it 3-0.

Mahle, who had given up one hit the first three innings, retired Cody Bellinger for the first out. But then Chris Taylor shot a double up the middle for another pair of runs, Gavin Lux walked, and, with two outs, Freeman drove in two more with his second single of the inning.

It was the Dodgers’ highest-scoring inning of the season, but hardly their first time scoring in bunches. They’ve plated at least three runs in an inning in seven of nine games. And they’ve scored at least five runs in an inning four times.

Dodgers starting pitcher Andrew Heaney throws to the plate during the first inning Sunday.
Dodgers pitcher Andrew Heaney throws to the plate during the first inning Sunday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
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“Hitting is contagious,” said Justin Turner, who had two hits. “So once the inning kind of gets going, it just seems like the snowball just starts building and guys are kind of licking their chops to get out there and keep going.”

The Reds (2-8) conversely have scored as many as five runs in just four games. And Sunday, they didn’t come close.

In his second start as a Dodger, Heaney looked dominant again. His new slider was sharp, getting whiffs on 14 of 22 swings. He was efficient, throwing 56 of 89 pitches for strikes. And he gave the Reds little breathing room, recording his most strikeouts since August 2019 while giving up only three walks and one hit.

“Confidence is growing with that breaking ball,” said Heaney, who has not given up an earned run in 10-1/3 innings to start the season. “Today felt better than the last time out. It’s kind of one of those things that you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself … but I’m getting more and more comfortable with it. That’s a good feeling.”

Added manager Dave Roberts: “This guy’s got a lot of upside and a lot of talent. With the pitching staff and with Andrew together, collectively it’s been fun to watch, really quickly. So I think he’s only gonna get better.”

The bullpen salted away the final three innings, giving up the only run on a Tyler Naquin single in the eighth — an inning that could have been worse if not for a smooth first-base-to-home-plate double play turned by Freeman.

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Cincinnati Reds rookie Hunter Greene set a record with 39 fastballs hitting triple digits, but the Dodgers rallied for their fifth consecutive win.

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Stiffer tests soon await the Dodgers. After blowing past the rebuilding Reds and Minnesota Twins this past week, they will host the Atlanta Braves for three games starting Monday, facing the team that eliminated them from the postseason last year en route to winning the World Series.

Roberts downplayed the significance of the series, resisting the temptation to call it a measuring-stick matchup.

“When you face a really good ballclub in the Braves, it’s always people trying to say it’s a litmus test or barometer,” Roberts said. “But I think that it’s a good ballclub that we’re trying to win a series [against].”

The Dodgers haven’t played a legitimate contender yet, but they have a formula that seemingly would work against anyone — resulting Sunday in the most complete performance of their impressive start to the season.

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