Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger each hit a solo home run, Joc Pederson added a two-run shot and Los Angeles defeated the Chicago Cubs 7-5 on Wednesday night.
The Dodgers improved to 17-6 in June and have slugged a major league-leading 51 homers this month. That’s the second-most during any month in franchise history. With three days remaining, they have a chance to overtake last year’s team that set the record with 53 while the single-season record of 58 in a month is within reach, too.
”It just seems like they’re taking really good swings,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. ”When there’s a mistake in the strike zone, we hit it hard.”
The Dodgers hit 25 home runs in late March and April and 31 in May. The current surge is being generated by a variety of players.
”It’s scary facing us,” Bellinger said. ”We’re clicking right now.”
After not homering in a 9-4 loss to the Cubs on Tuesday that snapped their four-game winning streak, the Dodgers got going early despite not having Matt Kemp in the lineup. The outfielder, who is hitting .311, served a one-game suspension after losing his appeal with Major League Baseball for a scuffle with Texas catcher Robinson Chirinos on June 13.
Muncy homered over the center-field wall in the first for his ninth long ball this month and 16th of the season. The ball hit something beyond the wall and bounced back onto the field, grazing center fielder Albert Almora Jr. in the head.
Later in the inning, Yasmani Grandal’s two-run double with two outs gave the Dodgers the lead for good, 3-2.
Pederson followed in the second with his 10th homer of the month to make it 5-2. Enrique Hernandez extended the lead with an RBI single.
Alex Wood (4-5) allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings to earn his third straight win. The left-hander struck out six and walked none, retiring the final seven batters he faced.
Kenley Jansen earned a four-out save, his 21st of the season.
Chicago made it close after Wood exited. He was replaced in the eighth by Scott Alexander, who walked Jason Heyward and gave up a single to Javier Baez before Willson Contreras hit a two-run double to pull the Cubs to 6-5.
Ben Zobrist grounded back to Alexander, putting the potential tying run on third, but Jansen came in and struck out Addison Russell to end the inning.
”The at-bats had great approaches,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. ”I thought we hit the ball all over the place. Javy hit it to right and right center. Same with Contreras. Good approaches. We played our butts off, we just didn’t get it.”
Bellinger homered leading off the eighth against Randy Rosario Jordan Poyer Jersey , tying Muncy for the team lead with 16 homers and making it 7-5.
Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks (5-8) gave up six runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings, failing to go at least five innings for the first time in 16 starts this season. The team has lost five of his last six starts.
”I’m just searching right now, it’s just bad,” Hendricks said. ”I don’t know mechanics and I’m trying to focus mentally and go pitch-to-pitch. Something is just off. I’ve had troubles in my career, but this is up there as one of the toughest.”
Chicago took the lead in the first on a two-run homer by Contreras.
In the fifth, Heyward reached on an infield single that Wood raced to pick up along the first base line. He flipped to Bellinger, and first base umpire Alan Porter signaled that Heyward was out. But the ball came loose and second baseman Logan Forsythe, backing up the play, fired to the plate. Ian Happ, who singled leading off, was called safe to leave the Cubs trailing 6-3.
Cubs: Chicago closer Brandon Morrow (lower back tightness) was activated off the DL. He had been sidelined since June 20 after experiencing back spasms while taking his pants off. … RHP Tyler Chatwood will be available soon. Chatwood has been on paternity leave after his wife gave birth last Sunday.
Dodgers: RHP Walker Buehler (right rib microfracture) will throw three innings in a rehab start at Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday. If it goes well, he will have a bullpen session this weekend and could possibly return to the rotation next week. … INF-OF Chris Taylor (left hamstring) wasn’t in the lineup for the sixth straight day but pinch hit in the seventh and will start on Thursday.
Cubs LHP Jose Quintana (6-6, 4.26 ERA) starts the series finale against LHP Clayton Kershaw (1-4, 2.94). Quintana is better on the road (3.22 ERA) than at home (6.00). Making his second start since coming off the disabled list, Kershaw is 5-3 in nine career starts against Chicago with a 2.64 ERA.
The Tennessee Titans won more games inside the AFC South, won the franchise’s first playoff game in 14 years and reached the divisional round for the first time since 2008.
Being embarrassed by the Patriots 35-14 has only reminded the Titans of how big a gap remains.
”We have a lot of work to do if we want to take the next step,” coach Mike Mularkey said Sunday.
Mularkey took a team that finished 3-13 for the No. 1 pick in the draft just two seasons ago to back-to-back 9-7 seasons and a 22-21 wild-card win in Kansas City before the ugly loss in New England on Saturday night.
Yet a statement from the team’s controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk a week ago has not ended speculation over Mularkey’s job security.
The coach said Sunday he has spoken with Strunk about the season and the future. He would not discuss if they talked about an extension with 2018 the last year on his contract, but he anticipates no changes on his coaching staff.
”We’re moving forward full speed ahead,” Mularkey said.
Mularkey also defended his offensive coordinator, saying Terry Robiskie did a ”very good job.” Mularkey also says he’s happy with the development of his quarterback Marcus Mariota.
Mularkey says inconsistency was his offense’s biggest issue Cam Newton Jersey , and he believes Mariota will benefit from an offseason focused on football and not recovering from an injury.
Mariota finished the season on the field for the first time in his three seasons in the NFL, but he was limited after straining a quadriceps muscle early against the Patriots. He threw four touchdown passes with only one interception in the playoffs after throwing more interceptions (15) than TDs (13) in the regular season.
Here are some things to watch from the Titans this offseason:
WHITHER DICK LEBEAU
The defensive coordinator turned 80 in September and has been on a year-to-year basis with the Titans. Mularkey hasn’t talked to LeBeau yet. If he returns for the 2018 season, it would be LeBeau’s 60th season in the NFL as a player and coach overall.
The Titans led the AFC and ranked fourth in the league in rushing defense and fifth with 43 sacks in the regular season.
But the Titans finished 17th in points allowed per game and 25th against the pass after adding two new starters to the secondary in cornerback Logan Ryan and safety Johnathan Cyprien.
DeMarco Murray, the three-time Pro Bowl running back, finished with the worst season of his career with 659 rushing yards. He missed the final three games with an injured right knee.
Murray, who turns 30 on Feb. 12, still has two years left on the deal the Titans reworked when trading for the running back in March 2016. But Murray is due $6.25 million in 2018.
Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman Trophy winner, struggled running in two of his three starts without Murray.
But he ran for a career-high 156 yards in the Titans’ comeback win in Kansas City , and Henry still has two years left on his rookie contract.
The Titans invested heavily in the draft trying to give Mariota help. But Corey Davis, the fifth pick overall out of Western Michigan, didn’t catch his first TD pass until the playoff loss to the Patriots after injuries cost him significant practice time.
Mularkey says he wants to see Davis and fellow rookie receiver Taywan Taylor benefit from an offseason in the weight room and on the field. Davis finished with 34 catches for 374 yards, while Taylor had just 16 for 231.
BOLSTER OFFENSIVE LINE
The Titans slipped from a year ago when they blocked for the AFC’s top rushing offense and tied for seventh in the league for fewest sacks allowed. The Titans ranked 15th in rushing and gave up more sacks (35) than a year ago.
Right guard Josh Kline will be a free agent, and left guard Quinton Spain dealt with injuries that kept him out of two games this season. They’ll likely start training camp with right tackle Jack Conklin on the physically unable to perform list after he tore his left ACL in New England .
The Titans have fewer holes, but not pressuring Tom Brady makes clear they need someone on defense who can make a difference. They will have the 25th pick in the first round in the draft.
They also have plenty of salary cap space with only a handful of pending free agents in defensive lineman DaQuan Jones, linebacker Avery Williamson, kicker Ryan Succop, receiver Eric Decker and linebacker Erik Walden.