Dodgers try to take series, solo division lead vs. D-backs
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers are poised Sunday to grab the series victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, but not even they could have imagined things were going to be this dramatic against their division rivals.
After two late-inning home runs rallied the Dodgers past the Diamondbacks on Friday, Matt Kemp hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning Saturday to give the Dodgers a 3-2 victory.
The latest victory moved the Dodgers into a tie for first place with Arizona, the first time Los Angeles has held at least a share of the National League West lead since Aug. 11.
The last time the Dodgers held sole possession of first place in the division was Aug. 7, but that could change with a victory Sunday.
The Dodgers will send rookie Walker Buehler (6-4, 3.02 ERA) to the mound Sunday afternoon as they try to win three consecutive games in the showdown series. Buehler has given up two earned runs or fewer in six consecutive starts, going 2-0 in five August turns with a 1.53 ERA.
Buehler, who has yet to face the Diamondbacks in his young career, might be the Dodgers’ least experienced starter, but the club is feeling completely confident about things after the last two games.
The Dodgers were 4 1/2 games out of first place after a loss Aug. 22, but have gone 7-1 in their last eight games to make up the ground.
“Not surprised, very impressed, and I think the noise outside, and the things that were being said, our guys didn’t waver,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Each day, to their credit, they focus on each game and aren’t worried about the other clubs and how they played.”
The Diamondbacks had owned the Dodgers going back to late August 2017. They finished the 2017 regular season with six consecutive victories over the Dodgers, and although Los Angeles won a postseason series, Arizona opened 2018 by going 7-1 in the first eight games of the matchup.
Even in the last two games, the Diamondbacks were in control until some late-inning Dodgers heroics. Before Kemp’s home run Saturday, Enrique Hernandez and Justin Turner hit home runs to win Friday’s game.
On Friday, Diamondbacks manager Torry Lovullo appeared to leave starter Zack Greinke in the game too long. On Saturday, starter Patrick Corbin went only five innings, even though he had not allowed a run to score.
“It’s easy to sit right now and say, knowing what the results are, that we would do it differently,” Lovullo said after Friday’s game, according to the Arizona Republic. “Of course, I would have done it differently had I known what the outcome was.”
He did do things differently Saturday, only he got the same results.
Up next for the Diamondbacks is right-hander Clay Buchholz (7-2, 2.07), who hasn’t allowed a run in his last 15 innings. He has a 0.39 ERA in his last three starts and a 1.53 ERA in his last nine outings.
Buchholz’s only start against the Dodgers came in 2010, and he went 6 2/3 scoreless innings as a member of the Boston Red Sox.