Her­nan­dez helps Dodgers hang on

A seven-run lead slips to one, but out­fielder makes a big catch to pre­vent more dam­age.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Andy McCullough


CINCIN­NATI — The game caused ir­ri­ta­tion and ex­haus­tion. A de­layed flight in Den­ver dis­rupted the Dodgers’ plans for the af­ter­noon. A trio of relief blowups caused a seven-run lead to shrivel to one. And in the eighth in­ning of an 8-7 vic­tory over the Reds, the out- come hung in doubt as a drive soared off the bat of Cincin­nati slug­ger Joey Votto.

Stand­ing in left field, En­rique Her­nan­dez squinted

through the af­ter­noon sun and sprinted to­ward the wall. At the warn­ing track, he leaped. He ro­tated his body so his back col­lided with an ad­ver­tise­ment for Bar­ba­sol. He fell to one knee, then squeezed the base­ball in his glove. As he jogged back to­ward his dugout, he turned to wave at the fans who had been razz­ing him as Cincin­nati at­tempted a come­back.

“Luck­ily, it was the soft part of the wall,” Her­nan­dez said. “It didn’t get me too bad.”

Luck should not have played much of a role in Sun­day’s re­sult. The Dodgers stormed out to an early lead thanks to a two-run dou­ble by Kenta Maeda and a tworun homer by Lo­gan Forsythe against 40-yearold Reds starter Bron­son Ar­royo. The lead ex­panded to seven when Justin Turner swat­ted a three-run homer in the sixth.

Maeda had sup­pressed the Reds for five in­nings of one-run base­ball. From there, though, the Dodgers bullpen nearly crum­bled. Stuck on the tar­mac, re­cent call-up Brock Ste­wart did not ar­rive at Great Amer­i­can Ball Park un­til the sixth in­ning, forc­ing the Dodgers to ad­just. Grant Day­ton gave up a solo homer in the sixth. Josh Fields gave up a homer for the fourth time in his last five out­ings — this one a three-run shot to Reds sec­ond base­man Scooter Gen­nett. Pe­dro Baez yielded a solo homer, then an RBI dou­ble, then gave up a rocket to Votto with the ty­ing run at sec­ond base.

Her­nan­dez tracked the ball down and helped the Dodgers (44-26) es­cape. The team went 5-1 on this trip, and has swept the sea­son se­ries with Cincin­nati. Man­ager Dave Roberts chose not to use Ken­ley Jansen for a multi-in­ning save, even as Jansen clam­ored to in­ter­vene in the eighth. He would set­tle for the ninth, dust­ing off three hit­ters for his 15th save in 2017.

“It got a lit­tle too close for us,” Roberts said. “But [Cincin­nati] is a good of­fen­sive club, and we’ve had our way with them, played well against them. They were bound to break out at some point.”

The Dodgers still weath­ered the storm. The of­fense booted Ar­royo from the game af­ter three in­nings. In the sec­ond, Maeda ripped a hang­ing curve­ball for two runs and Joc Ped­er­son stroked an RBI sin­gle. An in­ning later, Forsythe bashed an­other curve­ball for his sec­ond homer as a Dodger, and the 23rd given up this sea­son by Ar­royo.

Maeda gave up a run in the fourth when he clipped for­mer Dodger Scott Schebler with a pitch with the bases loaded. He es­caped, in part, when Yasiel Puig dived to snag a liner off the bat of third base­man Eu­ge­nio Suarez. “It was an awe­some play, a huge play for Puig,” Maeda said.

Maeda threw 78 pitches, but as he was op­er­at­ing as a spot starter, Roberts did not want to ex­tend him be­yond the fifth. When Turner pun­ished a 95-mph fast­ball from Wandy Per­alta in the sixth, the Dodgers ap­peared ca­pa­ble of cruis­ing to a sweep. The game did not co­op­er­ate. Nei­ther did the va­garies of air­line travel.

On Satur­day, the team op­tioned Josh Ravin af­ter a two-in­ning out­ing. In his place, Ste­wart came up. Built up as a starter, Ste­wart could have piggy-backed with Maeda and pro­tected the other re­liev­ers. That ap­peared to be the plan.

Only with triple-A Ok­la­homa City play­ing in Colorado Springs, there were no com­mer­cial flights to con­nect on Satur­day night, ac­cord­ing to a team of­fi­cial. Ste­wart had to fly on the morn­ing of the game. He was set to land at 12:17 p.m., he said, but a de­lay kept him from hit­ting the tar­mac un­til 1:53 p.m. Ste­wart did not reach the ball­park un­til the top of the sixth in­ning.

By then, Day­ton was al­ready warm­ing up to pitch. Reds out­fielder Adam Du­vall tagged a 93-mph fast­ball for a homer. A save op­por­tu­nity arose in the sev­enth when Fields stum­bled again. He is­sued a walk, gave up a sin­gle and then saw Gen­nett cut the lead to three. Fields has an 11.12 ERA in June.

“I don’t think it’s men­tal — he’s still con­fi­dent,” Roberts said. “And I don’t think it’s health or me­chan­ics. I think it’s just the ex­e­cu­tion.”

Baez only made the af­ter­noon worse. Suarez ham­mered a 97-mph fast­ball for one run. A sec­ond scored af­ter dou­bles by short­stop Aris­mendy Al­can­tara and out­fielder Billy Hamil­ton. Roberts con­ferred with Baez on the mound, then let him face Gen­nett.

Baez walked Gen­nett on four pitches. As Baez la­bored, the bullpen phone rang. Jansen jumped up, ex­pect­ing a four-out save. In­stead, Chris Hatcher started to warm up. Jansen raised his arms and waved a towel in frus­tra­tion. Af­ter a mo­ment, he too was told to loosen up.

“I def­i­nitely wanted the ball,” Jansen said. “I want the ball at any time, to pick my boys up. It’s just the fighter in me. But it’s a great job that Doc con­tin­ues to give those guys a shot to step up and close it.”

Wary of over-us­ing Jansen, Roberts let Baez face Votto. Her­nan­dez crashed into the wall to pre­serve the lead. Af­ter a start in which so much went right, the Dodgers sur­vived an af­ter­noon in which so much went wrong.

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