First, they got Mitch White off the hook for a loss.
Then, they set the stage for a walkoff win.
Mookie Betts had the decisive swing Wednesday, hitting a single on a high chopper behind the mound with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Dodgers a 2-1 win over the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium.
But it was the bottom of the Dodgers lineup that did the heavy lifting, manufacturing a tying rally in the seventh inning before keying the dramatic finish that completed the team’s three-game sweep of their division rivals.
“Those guys have been really, really good,” Betts said. “They just continue to put good at-bats together. They’re the reason we are where we are now.”
Both times, Cody Bellinger got the threat started from the No. 7 spot in the batting order.
With the Dodgers trailing 1-0 in the bottom of the seventh, he hit a two-out, two-strike single to right, went to third on a Gavin Lux single in the next at-bat, then scored on a bases-loaded wild pitch — sliding across safely after Betts initially put up the stop sign on a ball that rolled only a few steps away from the plate.
“[It was] kind of hard to read, just because there is a catcher in the way,” Bellinger told SportsNet LA after the game. “But I saw the ball hit the grass and I just decided to go. Took the chance.”
Added manager Dave Roberts: “That just speaks to the talent of Cody — and the instincts.”
Two innings later, Bellinger provided the spark again.
He led off the ninth with his third single of the game. He again took third on a base hit by Lux — who went two for three with a walk — that bounced through the infield.
Then, even with the Rockies using a five-man infield with the bases loaded and no outs, Bellinger crossed home without a throw on a slow, high chopper from Betts, whose walkoff infield single was not fielded cleanly behind the mound by Rockies shortstop José Iglesias.
“I don’t think it was one of Mookie’s best at-bats,” Roberts joked postgame. “But we’ll take the result.”
The win was the Dodgers’ 12th in their past 16 games. It extended their division lead to six games over the Padres. And it got them to the halfway mark of the season with a 52-29 record — two wins more than they had at the same point last season, when they went on to win a franchise-record-tying 106 games.
“I think we’re finally playing all-around good baseball,” Roberts said. “I think all year long we’ve done a great job of pitching. … We’ve caught the baseball really. And I think finally our offense is playing for one another.”
On Wednesday, their late production saved White from a bad-luck loss.
One minute, White had been on a path toward history, completing the first five innings without giving up a hit.
The next, he was watching the Rockies (35-47) take the lead in what had been a scoreless game, losing his no-hit bid and flawless scoreline on a disastrous play in the top of the sixth.
With Kris Bryant on first (courtesy of White’s fourth walk of the game) and one out in the inning, Brendan Rodgers dumped a single into shallow center for the Rockies’ first hit.
As Bellinger fielded the ball in the outfield, Bryant rounded second and chugged toward third. Bellinger tried to throw him out but bounced his throw short of teammate Justin Turner. The one-hopper hit Turner in the arm and then evaded White’s sprawling effort to stop the deflection, after he’d positioned himself in front of the Dodgers’ dugout to back up the play.
The ball eventually rolled into the camera well. Bryant was awarded home plate. And though White completed a career long start of 5 ⅔-innings without giving up an earned run — Bellinger was charged with an error on the play — he still left the mound in danger of being charged with a defeat.
“It was a funky little play,” White said.
Nonetheless, Roberts had nothing but praise after the game for the third-year left-hander, who lowered his ERA to 3.38 while making his seventh start this season as a fill-in in the Dodgers rotation.
“What we’ve challenged him with this year, as far as the circumstance, it hasn’t been easy,” Roberts said. “But he’s handled it like a professional. … He’s been as valuable as any player we’ve had that’s been here the entire year.”
And eventually, the Dodgers got him off the hook.
The bullpen completed what was the Dodgers second one-hitter of the season with 3 ⅓ perfect innings, including a five-pitch ninth inning from struggling closer Craig Kimbrel.
The bottom of the Dodgers lineup delivered each of its final two trips to the plate.
And the team hit the midpoint of the season on a celebratory high note, grinding out a ninth-inning rally for their second walkoff win this year.
“I get we only scored two runs tonight,” Roberts said, “but how they’re going about it is considerably better.”
— Roberts said it’s a “safe bet” that Chris Taylor will be out until after the All-Star break because of a left foot fracture that was diagnosed after a CT scan Tuesday.
— Roberts said reliever Blake Treinen is scheduled to throw off a mound for the second time on Thursday. It is expected to be a 25-pitch session of fastballs and cutters at about 90% effort. There is still no timetable for the next steps of Treinen’s recovery.
— Andrew Heaney felt good after a Tuesday bullpen session, according to Roberts, and is expected to throw another in “the next few days.”
— After Taylor was officially put on the injured list Wednesday, outfielder Zach McKinstry was activated from the injured list following a rehab stint. The Dodgers also activated reliever Caleb Ferguson from the injured list Wednesday and optioned Ryan Pepiot a night after he made a spot start.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism