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The Dodgers’ magic number for home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs is seven after pinch-hitter Andre Ethier homered leading off the seventh inning to tie the game, Chris Taylor followed with a triple and scored on Cody Bellinger‘s groundout, giving rookie Walker Buehler his first Major League victory with one inning of relief.
“For me to use Kenley for four outs, it was a game we really wanted to win today,” said manager Dave Roberts, whose club avoided a sweep by the last-place Phillies. “Those guys play the game the right way.”
Kenta Maeda, starting on nine days of rest but auditioning for a postseason relief role, pitched only three innings and allowed a two-run homer to Nick Williams. Josh Fields served up a two-run double to Rhys Hoskins in the fifth inning. The Dodgers scored a pair of unearned runs off Phils starter Mark Leiter, who also allowed a solo homer to Curtis Granderson, his 25th.
The Dodgers played most of the game without the All-Star left side of their infield. Shortstop Corey Seager didn’t start because of a bruised lower right leg suffered Wednesday night and third baseman Justin Turner left in the second inning Thursday after suffering a right thumb contusion when hit by a pitch. X-rays were negative.
Leiter went six innings and gave up five hits and three runs, though just one was earned.
“If you get good pitching on your side of the aisle, it keeps you close, keeps you in the game, you have a chance,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Save it for October: Ethier played only 16 regular-season games last year because of a broken leg, but he earned a postseason berth and was a factor off the bench. He’s played only 16 games this year because of a herniated disk, but the pattern looks familiar. He greeted Ricardo Pinto with a tying home run in the seventh, his second in 25 at-bats this year and the sixth pinch-hit homer of his career.
“We talked about it last year when he came back from the injury and his entire career — he just has the good, professional at-bat,” Roberts said of Ethier. More >
Out of position: Turner’s injury led to massive position shuffling that included second baseman Chase Utley moving to first base. The first ball hit to him was a sharp grounder to Utley’s right with Cesar Hernandez on first after a single in the fifth. Utley reached to glove the ball, but from one knee threw wide to second for an error and both runners were safe. Two batters later, Hoskins doubled them home.
Rally killer: Hernandez singled to lead off the ninth against Jansen, representing the tying run with no outs. Although he possesses the wheels to become a sharp basestealer, his reads and jumps need honing. Instead of sending Hernandez, Mackanin kept Hernandez on first and Freddy Galvis promptly grounded into a rally-killing double play, and the inning ended quietly.
“Cesar just is having trouble, he struggles with getting a jump and I didn’t want to take a chance,” Mackanin said.
“Once we get that out of the way, definitely could be a big monkey off our back. You don’t want to relax, but at same time things haven’t been going too good for us, maybe that little relief is what we need around here.”
— Turner, on clinching
Dodgers: The final homestand of the regular season opens with Rich Hill starting Friday night’s 7:10 p.m. PT game with a chance to clinch the division. Hill is coming off a solid start in Washington, where he allowed one run on one hit in five innings but was lifted for a pinch-hitter with runners on base. He beat the Giants on July 29 and is 4-2 with a 2.52 ERA against them in his career.
Phillies: The Phillies begin their final road trip of the season on Friday night against the Braves at 7:35 p.m. ET. Rookie right-hander Ben Lively (3-6, 3.94 ERA) will be on the mound for the Phillies, who are 12-4 against Atlanta this season.
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Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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