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Miguel Rojas and Chris Taylor help power Dodgers to comeback win over Royals

Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers tapped into some unlikely power sources to erase a three-run deficit on Friday night, Miguel Rojas and Chris Taylor each hitting home runs in a score-tying fifth inning against the Kansas City Royals.

Then they turned to one of their fossil fuels to win it, as veteran first baseman Freddie Freeman, who turns 35 in September, stroked a two-out, run-scoring single to center field in the eighth inning to lift the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory in front of a crowd of 49,580.

Mookie Betts sparked the winning rally with a one-out single to left field in the eighth. Betts took second on reliever Will Smith’s errant pick-off throw to first.

Shohei Ohtani popped out to shortstop for the second out, but Freeman reached out for an 83-mph slider off the plate and poked a soft single to center — the ball left his bat at 75.7 mph — to score Betts for a 4-3 lead.

Right-hander Daniel Hudson threw a scoreless eighth inning in relief of starter Gavin Stone, and left-hander Alex Vesia gave up a single in a scoreless ninth for the save, as the Dodgers snapped a two-game losing streak.

Royals starter Cole Ragans, whose five-pitch mix featured a fastball that averaged 96.2 mph and topped out at 98.3 mph, was nearly untouchable for four innings, giving up one single and striking out two, and Salvador Perez staked the left-hander to a 3-0 lead with a three-run homer in the top of the fourth.

But that lead disappeared in the span of four bottom-of-the-order batters in the fifth, a rally that rookie Andy Pages sparked with a one-out infield single to the shortstop hole.

Rojas got ahead with a 3-and-1 count and turned on a 94-mph fastball from Ragans, driving his third homer of the season — and 47th of his 11-year career — 390 feet to left field to pull the Dodgers to within 3-2.

Kiké Hernández grounded back to the mound for the second out, but Taylor, the seldom-used utility man who entered with a .100 average and .307 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 103 plate appearances this season, jumped on a 2-1 changeup, lining his first homer into the left-center field pavilion for a 3-3 tie.

Royals shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. helped keep the teams level with a spectacular defensive play in the seventh, racing into shallow left-center for an over-the-shoulder catch of a Pages popup, spinning and firing to second baseman Nick Lofton, whose relay to first base doubled off Teoscar Hernández.

Stone, who entered with a 7-2 record and 2.93 ERA in 12 starts, faced the minimum nine batters through three innings, yielding a leadoff single in the third to MJ Melendez, who broke for second base while Stone was still in the stretch and was tagged out in a rundown.

 

But Stone ran into trouble in the fourth, Maikel Garcia leading off with a single to center field, taking second on a Witt groundout and third on a wild pitch. Vinnie Pasquantino walked to put runners on first and third with one out.

Stone then hung an 88-mph first-pitch slider to Perez, who demolished the middle-of-the-plate offering for his 11th homer of the season, the ball leaving the veteran catcher’s bat at 113.3 mph and traveling 437 feet for a 3-0 lead.

Stone escaped a first-and-third, two-out jam in the fifth by getting the dangerous Witt to fly out to center field, and he retired the side in order in the sixth and seventh innings to give the Dodgers a chance.

It marked the fourth time in nine starts that Stone, who gave up three runs and four hits, struck out three and walked two for a no-decision, completed seven innings. Stone threw 94 pitches, 61 for strikes. Though he induced only eight swinging strikes, Stone racked up 20 called strikes.

Six-man rotation

Bobby Miller, out since April 13 because of shoulder inflammation, will return to start Wednesday night’s game at Colorado, meaning the Dodgers, “for this moment in time,” Roberts acknowledged, will go with a six-man rotation that includes Tyler Glasnow, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, James Paxton, Walker Buehler and Stone.

The Dodgers have given starters extra rest throughout the season by mixing in occasional bullpen games and calling up minor leaguers Landon Knack and Elieser Hernández to make spot starts, but they have been reluctant to commit to a six-man rotation because that would reduce their bullpen from eight to seven relievers.

“I don’t like being pinned into a corner,” Roberts said of his aversion to a six-man starting staff. “At this moment in time, (it will be) a six-man rotation, but you don’t want to be beholden to it. You know, there are off days coming, and you’ve got to kind of appreciate the (extra) rest for other guys, too.”

Short hops

Roberts said veteran left-hander Clayton Kershaw, in the latter stages of his recovery from November shoulder surgery, will begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment with Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Wednesday. Kershaw threw to live batters in a three-inning, 45-pitch simulated game on Thursday and, barring setback, could return by mid-July.


©2024 Los Angeles Times. Visit at latimes.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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