Dodgers stay in the hunt for NL West title

LOS ANGELES (News4usonline) – The story of the night for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Diego Padres in the second of a three-game series played at Dodger Stadium was the forgotten man in the team’s rich depth of clutch hitters. It has not been a year to remember for outfielder Cody Bellinger.

Actually, it’s been an unbearable difficult season for the 6-foot-4 Bellinger. His season stat line reads like this: 305 at-bats, a .161 batting average and 10 home runs. Those types of numbers will get you benched. Dodger manager Dave Roberts did just that, putting the left-handed slugger into a cameo role.

Bellinger’s piecemeal role turned heroic when he blasted a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to bring the Dodgers back to life in the team’s 11-9 win.

In an inning in which the Dodgers hit four home runs to overcome a Padres’ 9-7 advantage in the eighth inning, Bellinger followed behind Max Muncy and A.J. Pollock with solo shots to tie the game.

Sept. 29, 2021. A.J. Pollock round the bases on the first of two home runs that he hit against the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers hit six home runs in the 11-9 win at Dodger Stadium. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

Bellinger’s home tied the game at 9-9. Corey Seager finished the Dodgers’ home run parade with a two-run home run in the inning. It was a big night for the bats. The Dodgers hit six home runs against the Padres with Pollock smacking two over the wall.

But at the end of the game, the attention turned to Bellinger, who seemed a bit surreal about his part in the Dodgers’ magical inning.

“Really special,” Bellinger said. “Huge momentum shift. That was a crazy inning, maybe the craziest that I’ve been a part of.”

And about his home run?

“It felt amazing,” remarked Bellinger. “I’d be lying to say it didn’t. But it felt amazing.”

It looks like the Dodgers are going to push the National League West title chase to the very end. The Dodgers came into their second of a three-game series against the Padres needing something special to happen to gain ground on the San Francisco Giants in a bid to possibly snatch the National League crown away from their rivals.

Sept. 29, 2021. Victor Caratini of the San Diego Padres slugs out an opposite-field home run in the second inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodgers overcame a 9-5 deficit to beat Caratini and the Padres, 11-9. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

The Dodgers close out the regular season against the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend at home in another three-game series. In order for the Dodgers to overtake the Giants, they would need to win out their remaining games and then they would the team from northern California to have a complete windfall in the win-loss column over the next few days.

Let’s start with first things being first. To have a shot at the division title, the Dodgers have to do the one thing that they can control, and that is to win. Period. For a while against the Padres it looked like the Dodgers would have an easy time in winning their second game in a row against their neighbors from the south.

And with pitcher Max Scherzer taking the mound for them, this should have been a shoo-in cakewalk victory. It tuned out to be anything but that. The Dodgers jumped out quickly with a four-run first inning and then added another run in the bottom of the second to stake themselves to a 5-1 lead.

The Padres eventually tied the game in their half of the fourth inning and flipped their early deficit into a 9-5 edge. Mookie Betts’ solo run in the seventh inning then propelled the Dodgers’ home run march that would take them to the victory.

“I don’t think that anyone expects that, to be honest. But that’s the kind of talent that we have,” said Bellinger. “The lineup is really deep. It was a crazy inning. Not much words to describe it. It’s good to be a part of it. It’s a huge momentum shift right there.”

Sept. 29, 2021. Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager goes for a double and an RBI in the second inning against the San Diego Padres. Seager went 3-for-5 in the Dodgers’ 11-9 victory, including hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning for the game-winner. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

Seager, who went 3-for-5 with three RBIs on the night, echoed Bellinger’s thoughts on how big the win was for the ballclub.

“We were just trying to handle our own business. That’s a huge morale win for us, you know,” Seager said. “We’re still trying to accomplish a goal, and we’re still fighting for that and be able to show that grit and that drive and that just will to kind of come back and win that game, you know. That’s huge for us moving forward.”

Roberts was excited about how his team was able to pull out the win the way they did.

“It was a huge win,” Roberts said. “A lot to unpack there. Regardless of what’s going on around us, for our guys to be relentless and the offense to pick us up tonight…contributions from so many guys, really special night, speaks to the guys. Max didn’t have his best stuff, didn’t have the command night, and, again, for the offense to come in, it was something special.”

Featured Image Caption: Sept. 29, 2021. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts (50) rounds third base on his way to home plate in the second inning after a Corey Seager double. Photo credit: Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline