Corey Seager sparks comeback as Dodgers go on to 6-3 win

LOS ANGELES – Remarkable consistency has defined the Dodgers’ unrelenting run since their so-so first six weeks of 2017 and Corey Seager continues to be their unassuming heartbeat.

Seager made sure their script didn’t change Saturday night. The Dodgers haven’t gone without wins in consecutive games since falling twice to Atlanta at home last month and the smooth shortstop made that stay true, pulling his team out of a sixth-inning hole.

And with home runs mixed in by Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor, the team with baseball’s best record went on to a 6-3 win over the San Diego Padres before an announced sellout crowd of 53,230 at Dodger Stadium.

Bellinger and Taylor hit their solo shots in the seventh and eighth respectively after the Dodgers (82-34) scored three times on San Diego’s bullpen. Bellinger hit his team-leading 34th on a three-hit night while Taylor, who hit his 17th, reached base four times in also walking twice and adding a third-inning single.

The emergence of the two have grabbed a fair share of the many positive headlines the Dodgers have created. All the second-year Seager continues to do is bat over .300 with power while tossing in clutch hits along the way.

“His value defensively, offensively, in the clubhouse, his consistency doesn’t get overlooked by us,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “But obviously a lot of guys in our clubhouse are having really big years and getting some acclaim and that’s great.

“But I think that in Corey’s opinion, he wouldn’t have it any other way.”

The win wasn’t completed without an event-filled ninth inning. Kenley Jansen allowed singles to Hector Sanchez and Manuel Margot to open it but got Carlose Asauje to pop out and struck out Jose Pirela and Hunter Renfroe for his 31st save.

If only that was the crazy part. It wasn’t as Dodgers second baseman Chase Utley was ejected by second base umpire Ramon De Jesus after Utley balked when De Jesus refused to move his positioning in the infield.

Utley said he had asked De Jesus to move on a few occasions during the game to get a better line of sight when contact is made and expressed surprise that he would be tossed, particularly with one out in the ninth and the tying run at the plate.

“Over the course of my career, it’s happened to me a few times where I get blocked out by the umpire and it turns out to be a tough play,” Utley said. “I wanted to try to avoid that. Most umpires oblige.

“I feel like I have a pretty good rapport with a number of guys throughout the league, throughout the years. Clearly not with him. I don’t know.”

Utley wouldn’t say if he uttered a bad word to De Jesus, only acknowledging that “we didn’t really see eye-to-eye after that.

“But you live and you learn,” Utley continued. “I’ll learn from it and I hope Ramon learns from it too.”

Meanwhile, the Dodgers put the brakes on potential back-to-back losses with their rally Saturday. They’ve won 16 of 19 and have not lost a series since dropping two of three at home to Washington in early June. That streak can be kept alive with a win Sunday but it’s not within their thought process.

“We just focus on winning one game at a time,” Taylor said. “It sounds cliché but it’s true. Every day we come in here focused on getting a ‘W’ that day. We’re not worried about yesterday or tomorrow, a three-game series or anything like that. We’re just trying to win today.”

The Dodgers were coming up empty for a second straight night with runners in scoring position. Five runners were stranded and seven were left on base in all over the first five innings Saturday, this coming after only three of 14 they put in position reached the plate in Friday’s loss.

Joc Pederson couldn’t bring any of the three he stranded with a first-pitch groundout after San Diego starter Jhoulys Chacin walked the bases loaded. But that went away in the sixth when Seager sent a full-count fastball from Padres reliever Craig Stammen into right field.

Walks to Yasmani Grandal and Chase Utley were cashed in as they scored to tie the game. And as Seager got caught in a rundown between first and second, Yasiel Puig raced home and broke the 3-3 tie with a head-first slide.

“We left a lot of guys last night and to finally get some across, it was nice to score some runs basically,” Seager said.

Puig continued to show his own growth. The tempestuous outfielder, who has played Gold Glove-caliber defense in right, coolly worked a walk from Stammen after being miffed with  plate umpire Dana DeMuth earlier in the at-bat following a strike call on a pitch that Padres catcher Austin Hedges dropped.

“That was huge,” Seager said. “That was a really mature at-bat for him. He didn’t give up, didn’t give in. He got a bad call on him in the first few pitches, stayed in the at-bat, grinded it out and drew the walk. That’s huge.”

The sixth-inning outburst got Dodgers starter Hyun-Jim Ryu off the hook for a loss. Ryu threw 15 first-pitch strikes but still managed to find himself in several full counts in throwing 108 pitches over five innings. His 15-inning scoreless streak coming into this start was not going to last long on this night.

Two-out hits also kept him from cleaner innings. Jose Pirela and Hunter Renfroe hit back-to-back doubles in the third to forge a 1-1 tie and Wil Myers made it a 3-1 Padres lead with a solo home run in the fifth, his 24th. Chacin also had a one-out single in the fourth that scored Yangervis Solarte.

All in all, Ryu’s outing was a far cry from his dominating seven-inning, one-hit scoreless effort against New York his last time out but nothing that will put him behind Kenta Maeda in their battle for the Dodgers’ No. 5 starter job and the chance to be in the postseason pitching mix.

“I thought Hyun-Jim was good,” Roberts said. “The stuff was good. Just the pitch count was up there and so at that point you get a good five innings. … That hit from Chacin was a tough one. [Cory] Spangenberg, it was a pitch up in the zone and he slapped it the other way. But I thought the stuff was really good.”


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