A torrential downpour rinsed starters Max Scherzer of the Dodgers and Aaron Nola of the Philadelphia Phillies out of the game in the fourth inning Tuesday night, leaving the bullpens to settle things in Citizens Bank Park.
What a relief that was for the Dodgers, who found the Phillies’ bullpen arms much more hospitable than Nola’s right arm in a 5-0 victory that snapped the eight-game win streak of their National League East-leading hosts.
After a 1-hour, 44-minute rain delay, the offensive floodgates cracked open enough for the Dodgers to cobble together five runs on 11 hits in the last five innings, with Corey Seager and Max Muncy hitting solo homers and AJ Pollock keying a three-run sixth with a two-run single.
“I felt like both teams had to deal with having a good starter come out early,” said Dodgers second baseman Trea Turner, who doubled and scored in the sixth. “They both were dealing and having their way with the lineup, and it came down to who can get some runs off the bullpen.”
The Dodgers roughed up Phillies relievers JD Hammer, Matt Moore and Enyel De Los Santos for four runs in the fifth and sixth innings, and Muncy hit a 405-foot homer into the second deck in right field off Mauricio Llovera in the ninth.
Six Dodgers relievers — Alex Vesia, Corey Knebel, Justin Bruihl, Brusdar Graterol, Blake Treinen and Conner Greene — combined to give up three hits and strike out nine in 5 2/3 scoreless innings to keep the Dodgers four games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants in the NL West.
Of the six relievers Dodgers manager Dave Roberts used Tuesday night, how many of their names did he know two weeks ago?
“Yeah, I would say if 50% is the line, I probably would have taken the under on that,” he said with a laugh. “The most important thing is, I do know them now. I’m still kind of learning these guys, but I’m happy to have them, and they’ve been great for us.”
The Dodgers played the opener of the three-game series without right fielder Mookie Betts, who was scratched because of a sore right hip and is expected to be placed on the 10-day injured list on Wednesday, and third baseman Justin Turner, who is nursing a sore left groin.
Roberts can’t see Turner “coming back any sooner than Friday in New York,” but he remained hopeful Turner would avoid the injured list.
Not so with Betts, who, after two days off, arrived at the park on Tuesday “achy, sore” and unable to play, Roberts said. The manager said it’s “very probable” that Betts, who missed the final 11 games of July because of a hip pointer, will return to the injured list.
With the speedy Trea Turner, acquired with Scherzer from Washington on July 30, replacing Betts in the leadoff spot, Roberts dropped Betts to third on Saturday, believing his combination of power and plate discipline would be a great middle-of-the-order fit.
Instead, with the 162-game marathon reduced to a 49-game sprint, the Dodgers will play the next week or two — if not more — without one of their most dynamic players. Betts is batting .277 with an .899 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 17 homers 25 doubles, 44 RBIs and 68 runs in 87 games.
“It certainly makes it more challenging,” Roberts said, “but it doesn’t change our outlook.”
Chris Taylor will fill in at third base this week and, once Justin Turner returns, Taylor will join Cody Bellinger and Pollock in the outfield. Infielder Gavin Lux will play some third base — a position he has not played as a professional — during this week’s triple-A rehabilitation stint and could be an option there.
Scherzer, making his second start for the Dodgers, gave up two hits and struck out six in 3 1/3 scoreless innings Tuesday night. He had an 0-and-2 count on J.T. Realmuto with one out in the fourth when the skies opened so quickly and forcefully that the right-hander headed to the dugout as the first heavy drops fell.
The Dodgers caught a break when the delay ended Nola’s night. The curveball specialist gave up one hit and struck out seven in four scoreless innings.
“He’s a pretty funky guy — he has a weird delivery and three really good pitches to go with it,” Trea Turner said of Nola. “I’ve been in this division for a while and always thought he was a tough at-bat, so when don’t see him very often, he can jump on you.”
After the lengthy delay, Seager dropped the hammer on Hammer, leading off the fifth with a homer to left-center field. Trea Turner doubled to lead off the sixth and scored on Will Smith’s single to make it 2-0. Seager doubled to right, and Pollock grounded a two-run single to center to make it 4-0.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.