CINCINNATI -- Rich Hill's first three starts this season were full of frustration. Frustration over tempo, frustration over command, frustration over results. The sage left-hander expected more from his 39-year-old arm than allowing 11 runs in 15 innings. He mustered more Friday with a dominant performance in the Dodgers' 6-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds.
Pitching on seven days' rest, Hill held the Reds (20-25) to two hits over six scoreless innings. He compiled 10 strikeouts and didn't walk a batter. He retired the first 10 batters and the final eight. He spun his curveball however he wanted and pumped his fastball by hitters to complement it.
Hill's best work came against former Dodger Yasiel Puig. He struck him twice out with six pitches. They were all fastballs, challenging the overmatched Puig again and again. Puig struck out a third time against right-hander Dylan Floro on four pitches in his final at-bat in the seventh inning to complete another dismal night in his dismal season with a .203 batting average and .612 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
With Hill's outing, Dodgers starters have allowed three runs in 40 2/3 innings over the last six games -- good for a 0.66 earned-run average. The five pitchers have combined for 49 strikeouts to five walks. The Dodgers, winners of four straight, are 5-1 during the stretch, the lone loss coming on a late-inning grand slam.
The Dodgers (30-16) supplied Hill support with four home runs. Corey Seager belted the first one -- a two-run shot in the second inning. Joc Pederson and Max Muncy provided back-to-back homers to begin the third and Cody Bellinger smashed a leadoff home run -- his 16th this season -- in the eighth inning.
About the only blemish for the Dodgers Friday was Justin Turner fouling a pitch off his left shin, just above his ankle guard, in the third inning. Turner grimaced in pain immediately. He completed the at-bat and stayed in the game until David Freese pinch-hit for him in the fifth inning. The Dodgers announced he left the game with a left shin contusion
The Dodgers' game plan against Anthony DeSclafani was obvious from the outset. They sought to pounce on strikes early in the count and they pounced relentlessly.
Bellinger cracked the second pitch he saw in the second inning to right-center field for his 10th double and 26th extra-base hit. Seager hammered the next pitch down the right-field line for a two-run home run to net the game's first runs. Alex Verdugo drove the next pitch over the center fielder's head for another double, giving the Dodgers another runner in scoring position with no outs. He was left stranded.
In the third inning, Pederson smacked a ball the other way, down the left-field line, for a leadoff home run. It was Pederson's fourth homer in eight days and 14th this season -- all against right-handed pitchers. He has more home runs than singles and hasn't singled in two weeks. Two pitches later, Muncy unloaded on a curveball, driving the ball to the right-center field seats. Suddenly, the Dodgers owned a four-run lead.
While the Dodgers were punishing baseballs, Hill was avoiding bats with pitiless efficiency. The left-hander tallied two strikeouts in each of the first four innings. He carried a no-hitter until Joey Votto blooped a single to left field with one out in the fourth. Eugenio Suarez hit a ground ball through the left side for consecutive hits but that was all the Reds could muster.
Hill induced 15 swinging strikes, 17 called strikes, and 25 foul balls before departing with just 84 pitches. DeSclafani was long gone by then, chased after allowing four runs in four innings as the Dodgers quickly disposed of another starting pitcher.
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