Dodgers break it open late to complete two-game sweep over Giants

During a San Francisco Giants pitching change in the seventh inning Wednesday night, the scoreboard at Dodger Stadium played a familiar highlight reel.

It was clips from the Dodgers defeat of the Giants in the National League Division Series last year, a memorable five-game battle that came down to the final inning of the final game.

Wednesday night’s contest between the NL West rivals wasn’t nearly as close.

Moments after the game resumed, the Dodgers exploded for four runs to pull away from the Giants in a 9-1 win in front of a raucous 52,203 at Dodger Stadium, completing a two-game sweep in the first series between the teams this season.

“I think collectively it was the best [game] we’ve played,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I think certainly, [playing the Giants] has to bring out the best in us. They sort of always do.”

Early on, it looked like the Dodgers and Giants were headed for another tight finish.

Tony Gonsolin pitched five strong innings, giving up just one run while striking out five.
The Dodgers battled through a slow start, going hitless for three innings against Alex Wood before scoring twice in the fourth to take a one-run lead. After that, however, the Dodgers (16-7) pulled away.

Their bullpen was stout, blanking the Giants over the final four innings.

Their lineup, meanwhile, came to life, doubling the lead in the sixth on a Mookie Betts home run before blowing the game open in the seventh.

The rally started with a line-drive single from Max Muncy, who slapped his hands in relief when the ball dropped down in front of right fielder Luis González to snap a recent 0-for-16 skid.

After Justin Turner flied out, the Giants (14-10) made a pitching change, summoning left-hander Sam Long while the NLDS highlights flashed in the outfield.

The Dodgers immediately put Long under siege.

Cody Bellinger fouled off a couple two-strike changeups before lacing a double to right-center field. Chris Taylor got ahead 3-and-0 before being issued an intentional walk.

That brought Gavin Lux to the plate with one out.

He swung at a first-pitch changeup in the zone, hitting a slow chopper to the right side.

First baseman Wilmer Flores fielded the ball but had nowhere to go, as Muncy came racing home from third and Lux beat everyone else to the bag at first for an infield single.

Betts hit a sacrifice fly in the next at-bat before Freddie Freeman put an exclamation point on the inning, lining a two-run triple into the right-field corner.

“I think we’re capable of this every night,” said Betts, who is batting .318 over his last 12 games and is tied with Bellinger for the team lead in home runs with four. “Obviously, it’s hard to do, but hopefully we can get on this little wave and then ride it.”

Muncy piled on further with a two-run home run in the eighth, giving him his first home run and two-hit game since April 22.

“He’s been grinding,” Roberts said of Muncy. “I just thought tonight, the swings that he took, the base hit he squared up, it was more of a flat swing. Even the home run, he went backside, but I thought the swing wasn’t underneath it, the right trajectory.”

Betts and Lux also finished with two hits on a night every member of the Dodgers starting lineup reached base, helping the team take sole possession of first place in the division.

“It’s always good to beat a division opponent,” Roberts said. “But I think the way we won tonight, we prevented runs, we played good defense … Up and down our lineup, a lot of positives.”

Dodgers pitcher Tony Gonsolin throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Smith moves up, Turner drops down

For a third straight game Wednesday, Will Smith was the Dodgers’ cleanup hitter, going one for two with two walks and an RBI single in the fourth inning. Though Smith is batting just .246, he has 13 RBIs and a .762 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, good for third on the team.

“There’s no panic, and he’s very unflappable,” Roberts said. “And that’s why, I think for a manager, the more players you can trust, and that are dependable, you feel much better running them out there.”

Smith’s move up in the order coincided with Turner’s drop down. For a second straight game Wednesday, Turner batted sixth, a spot he hadn’t appeared previously this season and that he’d only sparingly held in recent seasons.

Turner went one for four with a single in his final at-bat, snapping an 0-for-17 skid.

Price back with team

David Price was back around the Dodgers on Wednesday after clearing COVID-19 protocols following his positive test last week.

Price said he is traveling with the team to Chicago this week for their series against the Cubs — Wrigley Field is one of two ballparks the 14-year veteran has never been to, along with the Texas Rangers’ new Globe Life Field — then will head to Arizona to start getting built back up.

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