An object that has been looming in the San Francisco Giants rearview mirror for more than four months is no closer than it looks. He just passed them in the fast lane and took a half-car lead in the race for the coveted National Western League title.
The Dodgers completed a three-game sweep against the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves with a 4-3 win from behind Wednesday night, Max Scherzer battling a tight right hamstring to pitch six white innings and Justin Turner and AJ Pollock delivering two hits and scoring in the eighth.
Their 20th win in 24 games, combined with San Francisco’s 5-2 loss to Milwaukee, gave the Dodgers (85-49) a half-game ahead of the Giants (84-49) with 28 games to go. , the first time the reigning world series champion The Dodgers have held the No. 1 spot in the NL West since April 28.
They lost a season-high five games to the Giants after a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Aug. 12, but have won 16 of 19 games since to get in position to pounce when the Giants finally stumbled. .
“It’s a start,” manager Dave Roberts said of his team’s perch atop the NL West. “We’re getting there. We need to keep playing good baseball. There is a lot of baseball left. I just love the way our guys are so resilient and support each other. “
No player personified that resilience better on Wednesday night than Scherzer, who felt his hamstrings contract during warm-ups before the first inning but still needed just 76 shots to shut out the Braves on three hits while removing nine and walking none.
A crowd of 47,473 at Dodger Stadium was stunned when Scherzer was pulled out with a 2-0 lead after six innings, a cushion that was built on the strength of Max Muncy’s solo home runs in the first inning and d ‘Austin Barnes in the third. With Kenley Jansen closer and setup man Blake Treinen unavailable due to heavy recent workloads, it seemed like the right time to push Max to the max, to straddle the triple Cy Young Award winner’s arm deep into the game. .
But it turns out there was a good reason Brusdar Graterol stepped out of the bullpen to start the seventh.
“Once I finished the sixth round I could feel it was my limit, because I couldn’t fully fit my back leg,” Scherzer said. “You’re going to put more pressure on your arm when you do this. So even though I was at 76 locations, he played closer to 90 locations.
Scherzer, 37, had no reservations about pitching as he had experienced similar injuries.
“I didn’t hurt him; I just knew it was tight, ”Scherzer said. “From there I had to slow down. This has happened to me in the past, and you just have to work around the problem. You might not be able to step on every fastball the way you want, but you can still throw. “
When Scherzer felt like he had reached his limit, he didn’t even have to say anything to Roberts.
“He’s such a competitor,” said Roberts. “He said he would go as long as he could without putting himself or the team in danger. You could see he wasn’t leaning on the fastball and really letting it rip, but he was shuffling and running, and after that sixth inning he just gave me a look that said, that was it. I respect that. I love him to be honest and expect him to make his next start.
Scherzer has dominated again despite the injury, lowering his ERA to 1.29 in six starts since the Dodgers acquired him on July 30. He has 50 strikeouts and five walks in 35 innings and only needs 19 strikeouts to become the 19th player in major league history. reach 3,000 strikeouts.
The game was also Scherzer’s 32nd career start with nine or more strikeouts with no runs given up – only Nolan Ryan (67), Randy Johnson (51), Roger Clemens (43) and Pedro Martinez (39) have more. .
“I had no idea [he was hurt]”Pollock said of Scherzer.” He’s a bulldog over there. He started punching us. [after the sixth], and we’re told not to touch him, not to look at him, until he’s done. Then I found out he was throwing with a tight hamstring all night long, and you would never know it. He fought. He was exceptional.
Graterol was not. The Braves erased a 2-0 deficit when Travis d’Arnaud scored just one out in the seventh and Eddie Rosario lined up a 0 and 2 fastball at 101 mph from Graterol on the center field wall for a home run of two. points. Dansby Swanson’s solo homerun over southpaw Alex Vesia in the eighth gave Atlanta a 3-2 lead.
The Dodgers were fearless. They roared at the end of the eighth, Trea Turner starting with a double to left-hander Tyler Matzek and taking third place on Muncy’s field at first.
Mookie Betts hit for the fourth time on a Matzek fastball at 99 mph over the zone, but Justin Turner managed a two-out RBI single to leave right-hander Chris Martin in a 3-3 tie.
Corey Seager walked after falling behind 0 and 2 in the count to put in two, one at bat which Roberts called “the next level,” and Pollock threw a single RBI to the left, Turner sliding his head out. first in the house for a 4-3 in the lead. Joe Kelly threw a ninth one-two-three for the save. The Dodgers travel to San Francisco for a three-game series starting Friday night.
“These are the times you live for, to have the opportunity to compete with the best,” Scherzer said.