Dodgers beat Royals with 10th-inning walk-off walk to become first team to 60 wins this season

on Jul9

On the back of Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger’s neck and shoulders were splotches of rosin powder. He did not know who dumped the white dust upon him. But he knew when it happened, moments after he took a walk-off walk with the bases loaded in the 10th inning of a 5-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals, when his teammates mobbed Bellinger in the Dodger Stadium infield.

“I’ve got to shower,” Bellinger said. “It’s all over my hair.”

These are heady times for the Dodgers. They own the best record in baseball, a 60-29 mark that puts them on pace for a franchise-record 109 victories. They have won 25 out of their last 29 games, and 17 of their last 18 at home. Their current winning streak sits at five games — and Clayton Kershaw will start the first-half finale on Sunday afternoon.

On Saturday, the team overcame a series of hiccups from their pitchers and exercised enough patience to vanquish the Royals. In the 10th, the team took four consecutive walks. Bellinger passed on a slider outside from Kansas City closer Kelvin Herrera to cap a day when he ended an 11-game streak without a home run.

In the eighth, Bellinger erased a one-run deficit by smashing a changeup from Royals reliever Joakim Soria for an opposite-field solo shot. From there, the Dodgers bullpen avoided any further calamity, and the offense took care of business. It was an ordinary victory, at least, by the standards of this club.

“It’s nice, but it doesn’t feel like anything magical is happening to us,” starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy said. “It just feels like we’re a very good baseball team who plays good baseball consistently.”

On a steamy afternoon at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers staff experienced a series of brush fires. McCarthy logged six innings of two-run baseball, but still saw his command waver in the fifth. Brandon Morrow coughed up a lead in the seventh. And Pedro Baez surrendered a go-ahead homer to Royals catcher Salvador Perez in the eighth. The team was set up to lose, until Bellinger interceded.

McCarthy was pitching for the first time since June 25, when he experienced a mysterious disappearance of control. He issued a pair of walks and three wild pitches in one inning against the Rockies that day. The wildness mirrored his extended bout with “the yips” last summer, a struggle that waylaid him as he returned from elbow ligament surgery. The team gave him 10 days on the disabled list, purportedly for knee tendinitis, to get right.

On Saturday, McCarthy benefited from Kansas City’s eagerness to swing. McCarthy finished the first inning in seven pitches. He completed the second in eight. He leaned on his two-seam sinker and curveball, though he did induce a popup from Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas on a cutter inside.

Joc Pederson provided a lead in the bottom of the second with a two-run homer off Royals pitcher Ian Kennedy. A sacrifice fly from Justin Turner added another run in the third.

McCarthy showed signs of distress in the fourth. After a single by outfielder Jorge Bonifacio and a walk by outfielder Lorenzo Cain, Pederson cut down Bonifacio at the plate on a single by first baseman Eric Hosmer. The Royals kept hacking, though: Perez dunked an RBI single to sully McCarthy’s ledger.

McCarthy got through the sixth. The bullpen could not hold the lead. Morrow gave up a run on three hits. Perez crushed a 98-mph fastball from Baez.

But Bellinger was ready for the eighth. When Soria left a changeup over the plate, Bellinger did not try to yank it to right. He ripped it on a line to the opposite field for his 25th homer of the season.

The Royals melted down in the 10th. Scott Alexander walked Chase Utley. He walked Corey Seager. He walked Justin Turner. At last, in came Herrera. Bellinger was patient enough to produce the winning run.

“The kid has no heartbeat,” Seager said. “Calm, cool and collected under pressure.”

Twitter: @McCulloughTimes

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