LOS ANGELES: How many Dodgers pitchers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
It took five pitchers Tuesday night to do – sort of – what Clayton Kershaw did much more impressively all by himself one night earlier. The relay team combined to hold the woeful Cincinnati Reds to three hits as the Dodgers won, 8-2, handing the Reds their ninth consecutive loss and building a modest three-game winning streak of their own for only the second time in the past five weeks.
Swimming in Kershaw’s wake has not been as easy as Zack Greinke made it look for three seasons. The pitchers who have started the next game after Kershaw’s nine starts for the Dodgers this year have posted a combined 5.13 ERA and 1.29 WHIP while barely averaging five innings per start.
Mike Bolsinger entered those waters Tuesday, churned by Kershaw’s latest gem (a two-hit shutout of the Reds on Monday night), and did the backstroke a couple times through the Reds lineup. Bolsinger pitched into the sixth inning, allowing only three hits and making one mistake – a 1-and-2 curveball that Reds outfielder Adam Duvall golfed just over the glove of a leaping Joc Pederson and the center-field wall.
The two-run home run was all the offense for the Reds. Refreshed by the day off afforded them by Kershaw on Monday, the Dodgers bullpen combined to retire all 10 batters they faced.
The Dodgers offense took its time giving them a lead, though.
In his major league debut, Reds starter Daniel Wright gave up hits to the first three big league hitters he faced. The consecutive singles by Chase Utley, Corey Seager and Justin Turner produced one run, but Wright retired nine of the next 10 Dodgers.
But the Reds made three errors behind him (for a two-game total of six in this series) and the Dodgers did what everyone else has done this season – piled on against the Reds’ hapless bullpen that now has a collective ERA of 6.23.
Trayce Thompson singled and scored from first on a double by Joc Pederson in the fourth. Pederson then stole third and trotted home on a wild throw by Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart.
In the sixth, Thompson led off with a line drive off the right-field wall that Jay Bruce mishandled, allowing Thompson to go to third. He scored when Yasiel Puig hit his own drive off the right-field wall.
Puig’s hit was impressive enough to capture his attention for some time. He stood at the plate to admire it, turning a potential double into an RBI single. No matter – two batters later he was on second when Reds first baseman Joey Votto couldn’t field Howie Kendrick’s ground ball cleanly. Puig raced around to score on the play, sprawling headfirst at home to avoid Barnhart’s tag.
Puig was removed from the game as part of a double switch after that inning.
The Dodgers’ final burst was almost entirely fueled by the Reds’ bullpen, by far the worst in the majors. A.J. Morris (also making his major league debut) retired the first two batters he faced in the eighth but walked the next three (as the Reds bullpen hit 100 in that category for the season) to load the bases. Justin Turner drove in two with a single up the middle and Adrian Gonzalez one more with the same strategy.