MLB: Dodgers charge to comeback win over Brewers but questions loom large
Los Angeles, California - Their hopes of winning a ninth straight National League West title are hanging by a thread, but that thin strand of Dodger blue fibers hasn’t snapped just yet.
The hard-charging Los Angeles Dodgers stayed alive in a tight division race with the San Francisco Giants with an 8-6 come-from-behind victory over the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday night.
Trea Turner electrified a Chavez Ravine crowd of 51,388 with a score-tying grand slam in the fifth inning. The victory is the 104th for the Dodgers, third most in franchise history.
Turner also hit a solo shot in the first inning. Matt Beaty put the Dodgers ahead 6-5 with his second career pinch-hit homer, a solo shot to right-center field in the seventh, to give the Dodgers 14 homers in their last three games. Kenley Jansen got the final four outs for his 38th save.
But the Giants beat the San Diego Padres 3-0 to remain two games ahead with two games to play and clinch at least a tie for the division title.
The Dodgers, who are 41-13 since August 1, must win their final two games over the NL Central-winning Brewers, and the Padres must beat the Giants twice just to force a tie-breaking Game 163 for the division title between the Dodgers and Giants in San Francisco on Monday.
One Giants win or one Dodgers loss would clinch the NL West and a spot in the best-of-five division series for San Francisco, while the Dodgers would be forced to play host to the St. Louis Cardinals in a single-elimination NL wild-card game on Wednesday night.
Kershaw's final start as a Dodger?
Whether the Dodgers advance as a division winner or wild card, they will likely proceed without Clayton Kershaw, who left Friday night’s start in the second inning because of left-forearm discomfort, the same type of injury that sidelined him for almost 21 and a half months this summer.
Although Kershaw’s 90.2-mph average fastball velocity was normal, five of the 10 hitters who faced him produced batted balls with exit velocities of 95 mph or more, and he gave up three runs in the second inning before departing.
Eduardo Escobar and Luis Urias opened the second with singles, and Lorenzo Cain hit an RBI double to left. Omar Narvaez hit an RBI groundout, and Kershaw, who was sidelined by a forearm injury from early July to mid-September, grimaced after a 2-and-1 fastball to Kolten Wong. Two pitches later, Wong ripped an RBI double to right to give Milwaukee a 3-1 lead. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and an athletic trainer came to the mound. After a brief discussion, Kershaw, who threw 42 pitches in the game, walked toward the dugout clutching the game ball in his left hand.
The reason Kershaw didn’t hand the ball to his manager? Friday’s start could potentially be his final one as a Dodger. Kershaw will be a free agent after the season, and he won’t start another game until the NL division series – if the Dodgers advance that far.
The Dodgers got two more injury scares in the game when Urias, on a third-inning stolen-base attempt, slid hard into the glove of Turner, who grimaced in pain but stayed in the game.
In the bottom of the third, shortstop Corey Seager, who hit .378 with a 1.184 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, eight homers, five doubles and 19 RBIs in his previous 25 games, grounded into an inning-ending 3-6-1 double play, twisting his left ankle when he stepped on the foot of Milwaukee pitcher Eric Lauer. Seager crouched in shallow right field and got up gingerly but was able to remain in the game. Both played key roles in the second Dodgers comeback from a four-run deficit in three games.
The Dodgers were trailing 5-1 in the fifth when they loaded the bases on one-out singles by Austin Barnes, pinch-hitter Albert Pujols and Mookie Betts. Seager popped out to shortstop for the second out, but Turner lined a first-pitch changeup from Lauer into the left-center field pavilion for his fourth career grand slam and 27th homer of the season, tying the game 5-5.
Beaty crushed a first-pitch 97-mph fastball from reliever Jandel Gustave into the right-center field seats for his first homer since Aug. 15 and a 6-5 lead in the seventh. Betts was hit by a pitch, Seager singled to center, and Trea Turner was intentionally walked to load the bases. Betts scored on a wild pitch for a 7-5 lead, and Max Muncy’s two-out, RBI infield single off left-hander Brent Suter made it 8-5.
Brusdar Graterol gave up two runs in the third, but Alex Vesia, Evan Phillips, Justin Bruihl and Blake Treinen combined for 42/3 scoreless innings of relief before Joe Kelly gave up a pinch-hit RBI single that pulled the Brewers to within 8-6 in the eighth.
Cover photo: IMAGO / UPI Photo