First they got Mitch White off the hook for a loss.
Then they set the stage for a walkoff win.
Mookie Betts had the deciding hit on Wednesday and singled on a high helicopter over the mound with the bases loaded in the ninth inning the evaders a 2-1 win about the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium.
But it was the bottom end of the Dodgers’ lineup that did the heavy lifting, producing an tying rally in the seventh inning before taking the dramatic finish that completed the team’s three-game sweep over their rivals in the division.
“Those guys have been really, really good,” Betts said. “They just keep putting together good at bats. They are the reason we are where we are today.”
Both times, Cody Bellinger got the threat started from number 7 in the batting order.
With the Dodgers trailing 1-0 in the seventh, he hit a two-out, two-strike single to the right, moved to third base on a Gavin Lux single in the next at bat and scored on a basesloaded wild pitch — gliding safely across after Betts initially placed the stop sign on a ball that rolled just a few paces off the plate.
†[It was] bit hard to read just because there’s a catcher in the way,” Bellinger told SportsNet LA after the game. “But I saw the ball hit the grass and I just decided to go. Seized the opportunity.”
Manager Dave Roberts added: “That just speaks to Cody’s talent – and the instincts.”
Two innings later, Bellinger provided the spark again.
He led off the ninth with his third basehit of the game. He again moved to third base on a single by Lux — who went two for three with a walk — that bounced through the infield.
Then, even with the Rockies using a five-man infield with the bases loaded and no outs, Bellinger went home without a throw on a slow, high helicopter from Betts, whose walkoff-infield single was not properly fielded behind the mound by Rockie’s short stop Jose Iglesias.
“I don’t think it was one of Mookie’s best at bats,” Roberts joked after the game. “But we take the result.”
The win was the Dodgers’ 12th in their last 16 games. It extended their divisional lead to six games over the Padres. And it took them halfway through the season with a record of 52-29 – two wins more than last season at the same point, when they won a franchise-record 106 games.
“I think we’re finally playing good baseball,” Roberts said. “I think we pitched well all year. … We really caught the baseball. And I think our attack is finally working out.”
On Wednesday, their late production saved White from a bad luck loss.
One minute, White was en route to history, completing the first five innings without giving up a hit.
The next moment he watched the Rockies (35-47) score first and lose his no-hit bid and impeccable deficit on a disastrous play in the sixth.
With Kris Bryant on first (courtesy of White’s fourth walk of the game) and one out in the inning, Brendan Rodgers singled in the shallow center for the Rockies’ first hit.
As Bellinger dropped the ball, Bryant came in second and trudged to third. Bellinger tried to knock him out, but bounced his throw short in front of teammate Justin Turner. The one-hopper hit Turner in the arm, dodging White’s extended attempt to stop the deflection, after positioning himself in front of the Dodgers’ dugout to support play.
The ball eventually rolled well into the camera. Bryant was awarded home plate. And although White completed a career-long 5⅔-innings start without giving up an earned run – Bellinger was charged with a foul in play – he still left the mound at risk of being blamed for defeat.
“It was a funky little play,” said White.
Nevertheless, after the game, Roberts had nothing but praise for the third-year righthander, who lowered his ERA to 3.38 while making his seventh start this season as a substitute in the Dodgers rotation.
“What we challenged him this year, in terms of the circumstances, it wasn’t easy,” said Roberts. “But he has handled it like a pro. … He’s been as valuable as any player we’ve had who’s been here all year.”
And eventually the Dodgers got him off the hook.
The bullpen completed the second one-hitter of the season for the Dodgers with 3⅓ perfect innings, including a five-pitch ninth inning by struggling closer Craig Kimbrel.
The bottom of the Dodgers lineup delivered in each of the last two trips to the plate.
And the team reached the midpoint of the season with a celebratory climax, rallying nine innings for its second walkoff win this year.
“I understand we only scored two points tonight,” said Roberts, “but the way they’re handling it is significantly better.”
– Roberts said it’s a “safe bet” Chris Taylor will be out until after the All-Star break because of a left foot fracture diagnosed on Tuesday after a CT scan.
— Roberts said reliever Blake Treinen will throw off a mound for the second time on Thursday. It is expected to be a 25-pitch session of fastballs and cutters with an effort of about 90%. There is no timetable yet for the next steps of the Trains recovery.
Andrew Heaney was feeling good after a bullpen session on Tuesday, according to Roberts, and is expected to give another one in the coming days.
— After Taylor was officially placed on the injured list on Wednesday, outfielder Zach McKinstry was removed from the injured list after a rehab period. The Dodgers also activated reliever Caleb Ferguson from the injured list on Wednesday, picking Ryan Pepiot one night after he got off to a flawless start.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times†