Thursday, February 2

Dodgers’ seven-run inning helps Andrew Heaney sweep Reds, stretch win streak to six

There was a bloop single. Two walks. Three doubles. Six total hits. And a carousel around the bases.

By the time the fourth inning was over Sunday, the game effectively was too, the Dodgers riding a seven-run outburst against Cincinnati Reds starter Tyler Mahle to a 9-1 win at Dodger Stadium.

The victory was the sixth in a row for the Dodgers (7-2), who completed their second consecutive series sweep by following a familiar formula: They got good pitching, with starter Andrew Heaney striking out 11 over six scoreless innings; and their lineup came alive for one big frame, sending 11 batters to the plate during a relentless fourth.

The onslaught began with a soft single from Freddie Freeman, followed by a walk from Trea Turner. Max Muncy drove them in with a double into the right-field corner. After an infield single by Justin Turner, Will Smith lined a double to left to make it 3-0.

Mahle, who had given up only one hit the first three innings, retired Cody Bellinger for the first out. But then Chris Taylor shot a double up the middle for another pair of runs, Gavin Lux walked, and Freeman drove in two more with his second single of the inning.

It was the Dodgers’ highest-scoring inning of the season, but hardly their first time scoring in bunches. They’ve now plated at least three runs in an inning in seven of nine games. And they’ve scored at least five runs in an inning five times.

The Reds (2-8) conversely have scored as many as five runs in just four games. And Sunday, they didn’t come close.

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In his second start as a Dodger, Heaney looked dominant again. His new slider was sharp, getting whiffs on 14 of 22 swings. He was efficient, throwing 56 of 89 pitches for strikes. And he gave the Reds little breathing room, recording his most strikeouts since August 2019 while giving up only three walks and one hit.

The bullpen salted away the final three innings, giving up the only run on a Tyler Naquin single in the eighth — an inning that could have been worse if not for a smooth first-base-to-home-plate double play turned by Freeman, who also led the way offensively by going four for five with three RBIs.

Stiffer tests soon await the Dodgers. After blowing past the rebuilding Reds and Minnesota Twins this past week, they will host the Atlanta Braves for three games starting Monday, facing the team that eliminated them from the postseason last year en route to winning the World Series.

Manager Dave Roberts downplayed the significance, resisting the temptation to call it a measuring-stick matchup.

“When you face a really good ballclub in the Braves, it’s always people trying to say it’s a litmus test or barometer,” Roberts said. “But I think that it’s a good ballclub that we’re trying to win a series [against].”

The Dodgers haven’t played a legitimate contender yet, but they have a formula that seemingly would work against anyone — resulting Sunday in the most complete performance of their impressive start to the season.

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