Alex Wood pitched six innings of six-hit ball for the Dodgers, who were largely dominated by Jeremy Hellickson until they erased a three-run deficit with three big hits from their patchwork lineup.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Although Cody Bellinger’s fierce line drive drove in the tying run, it hit the center field wall so quickly that the throw back to the infield beat him to second base.
No problem: Bellinger adroitly avoided the tag with a swim move he learned from watching Mike Trout on television, and the Dodgers kept charging toward the latest win in their comeback surge.
Bellinger followed Yasmani Grandal’s two-run double with an RBI double in the sixth, and Corey Seager drove in Austin Barnes with the go-ahead run in the seventh inning of Los Angeles’ sixth win in seven games, 4-3 over the Washington Nationals on Sunday night.
With smart plays by Bellinger, Barnes and almost everybody else, the Dodgers (10-10) got back to .500 after a rough start for the defending NL champions. They were largely dominated by Jeremy Hellickson until they erased a three-run deficit in the sixth with three big hits from their patchwork lineup.
“There were signs of that old ballclub when we were coming from behind,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “That was good to see.”
Los Angeles went ahead shortly after Barnes was hit by a pitch from Trevor Gott (0-1). Barnes wisely advanced to third on Chris Taylor’s single and scored on Seager’s fly.
“You’ve got to make something happen in that situation,” Barnes said of his dash to third. “We’re trying to get runs on the board late in the game. It was worth a shot. Be aggressive and play our kind of baseball, and eventually it’ll pay off for us.”
Alex Wood pitched six innings of six-hit ball for the Dodgers, and Josh Fields (1-0) survived a rocky seventh inning.
Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth for his first save since April 10 and his third of the season — but not without drama. The Dodgers’ vaunted closer began the ninth by yielding two singles, but then struck out Andrew Stevenson and Trea Turner before ending it on Howie Kendrick’s fly to the warning track.
Michael Taylor homered, doubled, singled and walked for the Nationals, who have lost seven of 11.
Hellickson retired 14 straight Dodgers before doubles by Chris Taylor and Grandal, with a walk by Seager sandwiched between them. Bellinger followed with his go-ahead line drive against Sammy Solis.
“The one that Taylor got was probably just a tad up,” Hellickson said. “(The pitch to) Grandal was down. Probably the only at-bat I’d like to have back is that one to Seager.”
Michael Taylor put his first homer of the season into the home bullpen beyond left field in the fourth. He then doubled, advanced on Wood’s pickoff throw into center field and scored on Moises Sierra’s mid-length fly in the sixth for a 3-0 lead.
In just his second start of the season, Hellickson settled in splendidly after yielding Seager’s double in the first inning. The Dodgers didn’t even manage to hit the ball out of the infield again until Chris Taylor’s one-out double in the sixth.
But Grandal eventually laced a line drive into the right field corner, extending his hitting streak to a career-best 11 games and chasing Hellickson.
“They’re just good, experienced hitters,” Hellickson said. “They’ve won a lot of games for a lot of years. It’s a good, veteran lineup that makes you work.”
Dodgers reliever Tony Cingrani struck out Bryce Harper in the eighth inning. The left-hander has struck out 15 of the 29 batters he has faced this season. Harper went 1 for 4 with a third-inning single.
Jansen has struggled this season with an inert cutter, blowing two of his first four save opportunities. He gave up singles to Matt Adams and Wilmer Difo leading off the ninth, but buckled down and finished up.
Nationals: INF Anthony Rendon’s bruised toe finally landed him on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to last Thursday. RHP Austin Adams was called up from Triple-A Syracuse.
Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill threw a bullpen session in his return from a cracked fingernail. He is close to returning, but prospect Walker Buehler will take Hill’s next scheduled turn in the rotation Monday.
Nationals: Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 2.49 ERA) makes his fifth start of the season in the series opener at San Francisco on Monday. He has yet to allow more than two earned runs in any appearance this season.
Dodgers: Buehler, one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, will make his first big-league start Monday night in the opener of a home series against the Miami Marlins. He struggled during eight relief appearances for the Dodgers late last season but has been outstanding this spring at Triple-A Oklahoma City.