Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 2
PHOENIX, Sept. 24 — Four outstanding defensive plays in the outfield — one from A.J. Pollock, another from Gavin Lux, and two from Chris Taylor — made the difference Friday night as the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4–2.
The scoring began in the top of the second off Diamondbacks starter Humberto Castellanos. A double by catcher Will Smith, followed by a single by third baseman Justin Turner, made the score 1–0. Pollock made it a 3–0 game with a no-doubt home run to left. In the bottom of the inning, Diamondbacks right fielder Kole Calhoun belted the fifth home run of his injury-plagued season to slash the deficit to 3–1.
A one-out single by center fielder Daulton Varsho in the bottom of the fourth put a runner on for Calhoun. Calhoun crushed a 2–0 fastball deep to right-center. Varsho turned on the jets, determined to score from first on the apparent double. However, the very speedy Gavin Lux had different ideas. Playing center field for only the second time in his career, he made a fantastic running catch to rob Calhoun. Varsho, caught between second and third, could only watch as the Dodgers relayed the ball to first for a now-easy inning-ending double play.
The bottom of the fifth saw the Diamondbacks make it a 3–2 ballgame. With one out, first baseman Pavin Smith struck out but reached on a wild pitch. He advanced to second on a grounder by catcher Carson Kelly and scored on a single by third baseman Josh VanMeter.
Dodgers Regain Two-Run Lead over Diamondbacks
The Dodgers got that run back in the top of the sixth off new pitcher Luis Frias. Second baseman Trea Turner led off with a double and advanced to third on a sharp single by first baseman Max Muncy. Smith drove him in with a sacrifice fly to left. The Diamondbacks threatened in the bottom of the sixth off new pitcher Alex Vesia. A one-out double by second baseman Ketel Marte and walk by Varsho gave RBI opportunities to Calhoun — who flied to left — and left fielder David Peralta, who struck out.
The Dodgers loaded the bases with two out in the top of the eighth against Tyler Clippard, but he struck out pinch-hitter Chris Taylor to escape. In the bottom of the eighth, the Diamondbacks drew back-to-back one-out walks. They ended up on second and third thanks to a fly ball to right and stolen base. However, Calhoun could not drive them in, striking out instead to end the inning.
Chris Taylor stayed in the game as the left fielder as part of a double switch. In the top of the ninth, the Dodgers were surely glad that he did. With Kenley Jansen on the mound to protect the 4–2 lead, Peralta hit a fly ball tailing toward the line. The Dodgers were playing him to pull, so Taylor had a long way to run. A diving catch robbed Peralta of a certain double. Pavin Smith, up next, hit one that was both deeper and closer to the line. Taylor made a sliding catch, popping up nearly against the fence in the left-field corner. Kelly struck out to end the game and give Jansen his 30th save of the season.
Calhoun said of his home run, “I’ve faced Gonsolin quite a bit. I got a pitch in the middle of the plate — I don’t think that’s where he was trying to go. He made some good pitches early. I was able to get to 3–2, and, like I said, he left one in the middle, and I put a good swing on it.”
Lovullo said of the Dodgers, “…their outfield defense was a big difference-maker in this ballgame today.” He added that the plays “ended up saving hits, baserunners, and the potential to tie the score.”
Gonsolin (4–1) earned the win for his five-inning, three-hit effort. Castellanos (2–2) took the loss. The Dodgers (99–55) remain one game behind the San Francisco Giants (100–54) — who downed the Colorado Rockies, 7–2 — for the NL West lead. Conversely, the Diamondbacks (49–105) still need to win at least three of their eight remaining games to avoid the worst record in franchise history.
The Dodgers and Diamondbacks play the second game of their three-game series late Saturday afternoon. Lefty Clayton Kershaw (10–7, 3.27 ERA) will take the hill for the Dodgers against Diamondbacks righty Zac Gallen (2–10, 4.53 ERA). First pitch will be at 5:10 Pacific.
A.J. Pollock, Gavin Lux, Chris Taylor, Humberto Castellanos, Will Smith, Justin Turner, Kole Calhoun, Daulton Varsho, Pavin Smith, Carson Kelly, Josh VanMeter, Luis Frias, Trea Turner, Max Muncy, Alex Vesia, Ketel Marte, David Peralta, Tyler Clippard, Kenley Jansen, Clayton Kershaw, Zac Gallen