Ped­er­son’s three-run homer breaks it open and Maeda has a strong ef­fort

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Andy McCul­lough

The drought — if it can be called a drought — ended in the sixth in­ning of a 4-0 Dodgers vic­tory over the An­gels on Tues­day night at Dodger Sta­dium. A day be­fore, for the first time in 18 games, the Dodgers played a game and did not hit a home run. Joc Ped­er­son would not al­low the streak to reach a sec­ond game.

Ped­er­son un­loaded on a hang­ing curve­ball from An­gels re­liever Jose Al­varez and un­leashed a three-run homer to dead cen­ter. The shot broke the game open for the Dodgers, who had been shut out Mon­day in the first game of this four-day Free­way Se­ries.

The matchup pit­ted a pair of play­ers trend­ing in op­po­site di­rec­tions: Al­varez has given up 10 runs in 72⁄3 in­nings this month. Ped­er­son, mean­while, is surg­ing after re­turn­ing from the dis­abled list June 13. Since his re­cov­ery from a con­cus­sion, Ped­er­son has bat­ted .319 with five home runs. The homer against Al­varez was Ped­er­son’s first against a left-handed pitcher in 2017.

“Maybe,” Ped­er­son quipped, his out­field col­li­sion with Yasiel

on May 23 “knocked some sense into me.”

The Dodgers ben­e­fited from Ped­er­son’s power Tues­day. Kept quiet by An­gels starter Jesse Chavez for five in­nings, they surged ahead in the sixth. The rally made a vic­tor out of Kenta Maeda, who went seven score­less in­nings. The An­gels man­aged only four hits. Maeda did not al­low an An­gel to stand on third base.

Maeda was pitch­ing on three days of rest. He threw an in­ning in re­lief Fri­day. His out­ing was brief be­cause the club wanted him to pitch Tues­day, as the Dodgers tra­versed a slate of 20 games with­out a day off. He earned him­self an­other start with his ef­fort, man­ager Dave Roberts said.

“There just weren’t too many good swings that they got off him,” Roberts said.

Chavez fin­ished 2016 as a Dodger. The team ac­quired him at the trade dead­line to bol­ster the bullpen. He never found a role among the re­liev­ers, and lan­guished off the post­sea­son ros­ter all Oc­to­ber. The An­gels of­fered him a $5.75-ml­lion deal dur­ing the win­ter to aid their ro­ta­tion.

Both pitch­ers faced the min­i­mum through three in­nings. An­gels out­fielder Eric Young Jr. led off the first in­ning with a sin­gle and was thrown out try­ing to steal sec­ond base. Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger opened the sec­ond by tak­ing a walk. Like Young, he was erased try­ing to swipe sec­ond.

In the fourth, Young vexed Maeda by chop­ping an in­field sin­gle. Two bat­ters later, a sin­gle from Yunel Es­co­bar gave the An­gels two run­ners aboard. Maeda bounced back to strike out Luis Val­buena with a 91-mph fast­ball. A ground­out by short­stop An­drel­ton Sim­mons ended the threat.

The Dodgers notched their first hit against Chavez thanks to a mis­take by Young in cen­ter field. On a two-out fly ball from Chris Tay­lor, Young lost track of the ball, which dropped well in front of him for a dou­ble. Bellinger walked to heighten the tension, but Chavez swept aside catcher Austin Barnes with a strike­out to strand the two run­ners. An­gels catcher Martin Mal­don­ado pumped his fist as he jogged off the di­a­mond with Chavez.

In the sixth, Chavez hit a snag. He flipped a changeup over the mid­dle to Chase Ut­ley, who led off the in­ning with a dou­ble. Lo­gan Forsythe walked. Ut­ley ad­vanced to third base on a fly­out from Tay­lor. A pair of run­ners stood on base for Bellinger, who en­tered the day lead­ing the Na­tional League with 24 homers.

An­gels man­ager Mike Scios­cia had seen enough. Out went Chavez. In came Al­varez.

“I ran out of gas a lit­tle bit at the end,” Chavez said. “And it was a good matchup.”

A left-handed re­liever who leans on a fast­ball in the low 90s, Al­varez has proved prone to blowups this month. Four days ago at Fen­way Park, Al­varez surPuig ren­dered two runs on three hits.

The Dodgers dinged him in sim­i­lar fash­ion. With the in­field shifted to­ward the right side of the di­a­mond, Al­varez fired a fast­ball up and away from Bellinger. Since ar­riv­ing in the ma­jors two months ago, Bellinger has made the spec­tac­u­lar look rou­tine. On Tues­day, he showed how spec­tac­u­lar the rou­tine can be.

“I knew it was ei­ther go­ing to be a slider or a fast­ball away,” Bellinger said. “I sat on the pitch away. I saw there was a shift — as long as I put the ball in play, I knew I could beat out a ground ball as well.”

Bellinger chopped a grounder to­ward the area usu­ally cov­ered by the short­stop. Play­ing closer to sec­ond base than usual, Sim­mons dived, but the ball evaded his grasp. The hit gave Bellinger a team-high 56 RBIs — 15 more than any other Dodger.

Al­varez stayed in the game. He in­duced Barnes to ground out, and Ped­er­son stepped in with two outs. Al­varez slopped a curve­ball over the plate, and Ped­er­son in­sured that Al­varez would not see the base­ball again.

“With a lefty right there, some­times he has a ten­dency to do too much, get too big,” Roberts said of Ped­er­son. “He used the big part of the field. And when he uses the big part of the field, he’s pretty good.”

Chris­tian K. Lee Los An­ge­les Times

CODY BELLINGER IS TAGGED out by Cliff Pen­ning­ton on at­tempted steal of sec­ond in the sec­ond in­ning.

Mark J. Terrill As­so­ci­ated Press

CATCHER AUSTIN BARNES con­grat­u­lates re­liever Bran­don Mor­row, who went two in­nings.

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