His home run gets Dodgers even in the ninth be­fore Chiri­nos hits a walk-off shot.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Zach Helfand

AR­LING­TON, Texas — In the club­house, the kid ran to the player who had the ninth-in­ning hero­ics.

“You hit a home run!” he said. “You hit a home run!”

Af­ter another tooth­less of­fen­sive per­for­mance Tues­day by the Dodgers in a 3-2 loss to the Texas Rangers, Justin Turner hit a tworun home run to tie the score, 2-2, in the ninth in­ning. For a mo­ment, it ap­peared he would res­cue the Dodgers.

But the kid was not in the Dodgers club­house. He was in the Rangers club­house, and he was talk­ing to his fa­ther, Robin­son Chiri­nos.

Af­ter Turner’s home run, Chiri­nos led off the bot­tom of the in­ning with a walk-off home run. Chiri­nos, drenched in Ga­torade, gave his son a high-five.

From the Dodgers dugout, Man­ager Don Mat­tingly had watched the ball fly past An­dre Ethier’s leap­ing try and felt def lated, he said, but not cheated. The loss, he in­di­cated, was prob­a­bly de­served.

“You know hon­estly it felt like that ball goes out, ob­vi­ously dis­ap­point­ing, but we just didn’t do enough to give our­selves a chance to win,” Mat­tingly said.

Rookie pitcher Chi Chi Gon­za­lez baff led the Dodgers with move­ment and de­cep­tion so ef­fec­tively that catcher Yas­mani Gran­dal said his pitches looked “as big as a beach ball and then all of a sud­den it just dis­ap­peared. It was kind of like, where did it go?”

The same could be asked of the Dodgers of­fense.

“I just didn’t see us hav­ing a chance re­ally,” Mat­tingly said. “He just kind of did what­ever he wanted.”

This sweep in the twogame se­ries, when the Dodgers man­aged only three runs, was not an ano­maly. In the lat­ter half of their 64 games this sea­son, the Dodgers have not hit well.

The Dodgers aren’t scor­ing runs, but they are in first place in the Na­tional League West and lead the San Fran­cisco Giants by 21⁄

2 games.

Do they change any­thing?

The most tempt­ing tweak might be in the run­ning game.

The Dodgers still wal­low in last place in stolen bases. They’re 10th in the NL in sac­ri­fice hits. They’ve hit more home runs than ev­ery team in the ma­jors but the Hous­ton Astros, but is more di­ver­sity needed?

“I think we need to stay within our strengths,” Gran­dal said. “There’s no rea­son why we need to change what we’ve been do­ing. I mean, we’re strug­gling, we’re still in first place. There’s no rea­son to change. Don’t change it if it ain’t bro­ken.”

Gran­dal said the team has stayed pa­tient, worked counts and put on good swings. The team’s on-base per­cent­age, he noted, is sec­ond in the ma­jors. Line drives, he said, have sim­ply found field­ers.

One way around that, at least tem­po­rar­ily, could in­volve us­ing speed to lure field­ers out of po­si­tion. Mat­tingly said that would not have helped against Ro­driguez.

“He’s get­ting enough outs on his own, and for us to hand him any more, we were try­ing to stay away from that,” Mat­tingly said.

Mat­tingly said he fo­cuses on qual­ity at-bats and swing­ing at strikes. Do that, he said, and you’ll score runs.

Per­haps, though, the fix is even sim­pler. Gran­dal and Joc Ped­er­son were the only Dodgers with mul­ti­ple hits Tues­day. And Ped­er­son’s power hasn’t evap­o­rated — he has four home runs in June.

In this oth­er­wise life­less game for the Dodgers, Turner’s home run seem­ingly ma­te­ri­al­ized out of nowhere. But he had a se­cret.

“I swung Joc’s bat,” he said.

Maybe the rest of the lineup can give that a try.


Louis DeLuca Dal­las Morn­ing News

JUSTIN TURNER watches throw to first base af­ter forc­ing out Elvis An­drus at sec­ond in third in­ning.

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