Justin Turner, Max Muncy power Dodgers past the Giants

The Dodgers were a little hot under the collar in four innings against the San Francisco Giants Wednesday, and that had nothing to do with the searing 99-degree temperature in first place.

Baseball’s most prolific offensive line had not scored despite loading bases in the second inning with no outs, placing two ons with one out in the third and two ons with two outs in the fourth, with the Dodgers in six at-bats with runners unsuccessful in scoring position and stranding of eight baserunners.

Four innings of frustration then gave way to two innings of anger, Justin Turner smashed a three-run homer in the fifth and Max Muncy hit a three-run homer in a four-run eighth run as the Dodgers settled on a 7-3 win a sunscreen-soaked crowd of 39,237 at the Chavez Gorge.

Clayton Kershaw looked sharp in his second start since returning from his most recent back injury, giving up two carries and five hits, batting eight and not walking in six innings to help the Dodgers (94-42) hit their magic number to win their ninth National League West title in 10 years down to six.

The Dodgers won two of three games in a streak in which 16 homers were hit — nine by the Giants, seven by the Dodgers — and 28 of 30 runs were hit from the long ball.

“Anyone who’s played here knows that at night when the weather cools down, it’s pretty hard to hit,” said Muncy, who had three home runs and six RBIs in his last two games. “If the weather stays warm, it’s fun to strike here. With three digits [temperatures]the ball definitely flew.”

Muncy’s homer in the eighth inning, which followed an Austin Barnes single, a Trea Turner tie-breaking RBI double and a Freddie Freeman walk, traveled 381 feet to right field and turned a 4-3 Dodgers lead into a 7-3 advantage.

But it was a 10-foot tapper from the left-handed hitter that helped swing momentum toward the Dodgers.

San Francisco had taken a 2-0 lead at the top of fifth when Mike Yastrzemski scored a single and David Villar hit a center-cut, 2-and-2 slider from Kershaw for a two-run homer to the right middle drove.

The Dodgers countered with three at the bottom of the fifth when Freeman singled, Muncy hit an infield shift with a colorful single into third, and Justin Turner hit a three-run homer down the middle.

“Earlier in the year Doc wanted us to just play the game more,” Muncy said, referring to manager Dave Roberts. “That was a situation where it just presented itself. First toss of the bat, they gave up [the left side]. At that point in the game it made sense to do it.”

Muncy has played for two shift-breaking hits this season, but that’s not his forte. He has gone clean in 690 big league games in seven years.

Dodgers' Max Muncy looks at his triple home run.

Dodgers designated hitter Max Muncy watches his triple home run against the San Francisco Giants during the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

“Everyone thinks it’s an easy thing, right?” said Kershaw. “You see the shift there, but it’s not that easy, especially if you don’t do it very often. So that was a great game from Max. Obviously JT has a big place for us.”

Turner got through in the clutch, grabbed a 1-and-2 divider below the hitting zone and lofted it over the left-center wall for a 3-2 lead. The third baseman is batting .441 (26 to 59) with a 1.229 on-base plus slugging percentage, three homers, eight doubles and 15 RBIs during his 16-game hitting streak.

“Yeah, it’s impressive,” Kershaw said of the Dodgers’ counterattacking skills. “Our guys are doing a great job hitting situationally and landing big hits when we need them.”

Villar’s solo homer in front of Dodgers left-hander Justin Bruhl tied the score 3-3 at the top of seventh, preventing a Kershaw win, but the Dodgers were very encouraged by the performance of Kershaw, who scored 2, 01 ERA is 24-15 in 56 games against the Giants, with 388 strikeouts and 61 walks in 377 innings.

Mixing a 90.8-mph average speed fastball with an 86.8-mile slider and a 73.2-mile turn, Kershaw executed 18 swinging strikes and 15 called strikes among his 86 pitches Wednesday.

The left-hander has given up three runs and six hits in 11 innings from two starts from the injured list, hitting 14 and walking three, giving Roberts confidence in the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner, who missed the playoffs last season due to a flexor tendon strain, will take effect this October.

“Absolutely,” Roberts said. “I feel like he’s strong. He didn’t lose anything with the arm because [he was out for] only three weeks. The way he threw the ball today confirmed that.”

Have those two starts convinced Kershaw that his stuff and his back will hold up this October?

“I mean, that’s such a tough question,” Kershaw said. “I’m feeling great right now. I feel great until I don’t. So right now I’m feeling great. I don’t expect that to change.”

Short jumps

Left fielder Joey Gallo left the game in the fourth inning after being hit in the second in the right elbow by a pitch. X-rays were negative and Gallo was diagnosed with a bruised elbow. … Aide Tommy Kahnle, who is trying to return from a forearm injury that has sidelined him since mid-May, has served for the first time on consecutive days at his Triple-A rehab effort, retiring all six batsmen on 18 pitches for the two games . The Dodgers expect the right-hander to return in mid-September.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-09-07/dodgers-giants-gamer-mlb-justin-turner-max-muncy-recap Justin Turner, Max Muncy power Dodgers past the Giants

Emma Bowman

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