Mookie Betts has had some spare time to observe the Dodgers’ offense, and the right fielder noticed at least one disturbing trend since he went down with a right-hip injury on July 19.
“We’ve put ourselves in good spots to win games,” Betts said Saturday afternoon, “but we haven’t had the big hit that leads to other hits.”
That wasn’t the case Saturday night, the Dodgers feeding off one another in an 8-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks that featured four hits in a three-run second inning and five straight hits in a tiebreaking, four-run seventh.
A crowd of 23,814 at Chase Field saw the Dodgers amass 16 hits — 13 singles, two doubles and one home run — to stay three games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West.
“Our at-bat quality has been pretty good, but hits are not always easy to come by,” third baseman Justin Turner said. “We did a good job tonight of getting traffic out there, getting some big hits, grinding out at-bats and finding ways to put balls in play and get some runs across the board.”
Turner delivered the biggest hit of the night. With the score tied 3-3 in the seventh and Max Muncy aboard on a one-out walk, Turner turned on an up-and-in, 90-mph fastball from sidearm-throwing right-hander Stefan Crichton, sending a two-run homer into the bullpen in left for a 5-3 lead.
“That was more of a game-planning thing,” manager Dave Roberts said of Turner’s swing. “He was hunting that zone, and that’s when you go from good to great, the guys who are open to hunting a certain zone and are then able to execute. I wouldn’t even say it was a mistake pitch. It was a really good swing.”
The Dodgers stayed hungry. Will Smith dropped a single into shallow right, AJ Pollock lined a single to left, and Cody Bellinger knocked a grounder off the leg of left-hander Ryan Buchter for an infield single to load the bases.
Albert Pujols, who tied Friday night’s game with a pinch-hit single in the eighth, delivered another clutch hit, lining a pinch-hit RBI single to left for a 6-3 lead. Billy McKinney’s fielder’s-choice grounder made it 7-3. Pollock doubled in the ninth, stole third and scored on Pujols’ soft single to center for an 8-3 lead.
“One of the highlights was the Pujols at-bat [in the ninth],” Roberts said. “Infield in, man on third, you’re just fighting to move the ball forward and drive in that run. It wasn’t pretty, the ball was up and in and he got jammed, but that just showed tonight our desire to win a baseball game.”
The offensive bounty provided plenty of support for spot-starter Mitch White and six relievers, who combined to give up three runs and five hits.
White gave up two runs and two hits in 3-2/3 innings, striking out five and walking one, in his first big league start, and Joe Kelly, Blake Treinen and Edwin Uceta each threw perfect innings.
The Dodgers’ second-inning rally began with Bellinger legging out an infield hit and Matt Beaty poking a single to right. McKinney flied to left, and White fouled off a two-strike bunt attempt for a strikeout.
Chris Taylor, who hit .333 (35 for 105) with seven homers, seven doubles, 20 RBIs and 21 runs in July, smoked an RBI single to left, and Muncy hit an RBI single to right, Taylor advancing to third on right fielder Kole Calhoun’s bobble.
Muncy and Taylor then pulled off a double steal, Muncy stopping before second base as catcher Carson Kelly’s throw sailed into center field and Taylor trotting home for a 3-0 lead.
“Earning walks, situational hitting, just the fight, the compete,” Roberts said. “Guys kept the line moving, used the whole field. It was unbelievable.”
White cruised through three innings, blanking Arizona on one hit, but he ran into trouble in the fourth when Asdrubal Cabrera walked and Calhoun hit a two-run homer to right to cut the lead to 3-2. Nick Ahmed’s solo homer off Dodgers left-hander Garrett Cleavinger tied the score 3-3 in the fifth.
Clayton Kershaw setback
Clayton Kershaw is experiencing “residual soreness” in his left elbow after last Tuesday’s three-inning, 45-pitch simulated game, potentially delaying the left-hander’s return to the rotation.
Kershaw was scheduled to throw a four-inning, 60-pitch simulated game Sunday and pitch for the Dodgers next weekend, but Roberts isn’t sure if Kershaw will throw Sunday.
Tony Gonsolin was placed on the 10-day injured list because of right-shoulder inflammation Saturday. … Max Scherzer, acquired from Washington on Friday, joined the team and spent some of Saturday’s game chatting with Walker Buehler and Kershaw on the dugout rail. The team optioned reliever Brusdar Graterol and outfielder Luke Raley to triple-A. … Betts is expected to be activated Sunday.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.