Will Smith had seen fellow Los Angeles Dodgers rookies Matt Beaty and Alex Verdugo deliver walk-off homers during their weekend series against the Colorado Rockies. Hours after being called up from the minors on Sunday, it was Smith’s turn to join the fun.
The rookie catcher connected for a pinch-hit, three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning that lifted the Dodgers to a 6-3 victory and a three-game sweep over their closest NL West pursuers.
“Just when you think it can’t get any better, it does,” manager Dave Roberts said. “We talk about these young players not being afraid of the moment. For Will to get a pitch in and carry it to the opposite part of the field is pretty impressive.”
It is the first time in major league history that rookie teammates have hit walk-off homers in three straight games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Matt Beaty hit a two-run shot in the ninth inning on Friday and Alex Verdugo did it in the 11th on Saturday.
The last team to win three straight games in walk-off fashion was Oakland two years ago. The Dodgers had not done it since a 2010 series against Arizona.
Colorado manager Bud Black said not having much scouting information on rookies wasn’t a factor in the losses.
“A couple bad pitches got us. Scott didn’t locate his slider where he wanted to,” he said. “There are going to be great wins and tough losses. They are on a little bit of a nice roll but we’ll be back.”
Smith, a 24-year-old catcher playing his seventh game in the big leagues, hit a slider from Scott Oberg (5-1) over the wall in center. Beaty singled to lead off the inning and advanced on a wild pitch, and Russell Martin was intentionally walked with two outs.
Smith was promoted when infielder David Freese was put on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Friday with a left hamstring sprain. He caught a morning flight from Oklahoma City and got to the ballpark a couple hours before the game.
“I didn’t know if I was going to play today, so I made the most of my opportunity,” Smith said. “I was concentrating on the approach of the at-bat and getting the right pitch to hit.”
The Dodgers, with the best record in the majors, have won six straight games to tie the 1974 NL champions for the best start in franchise history (54-25) and complete a 9-2 homestand. Kenley Jansen (3-2) pitched one inning.
Dodgers star Cody Bellinger hit a line-drive foul ball down the first-base line that struck a young woman in the head during the first inning. She was taken to a hospital for precautionary tests.
In the ninth inning, a female fan ran toward Bellinger in right field. He was trying to fend her off, and security personnel tackled her as she tried to hug Bellinger.
All six Dodger runs came via pinch-hit home runs. Chris Taylor greeted Rockies’ reliever Chad Bettis with a three-run homer in the seventh to give LA a 3-2 lead. Colorado tied it in the eighth when Daniel Murphy scored from first on Tony Wolters’ double into the right-field corner.
Colorado has lost 11 straight to Los Angeles dating to last season. The Rockies are 13 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West nearing the midpoint of the season.
“We came in here ready to go and they beat us pretty good,” third baseman Nolan Arenado said. “At the end of the day we have to finish games. The good teams finish them. If we want to get to where we needed to go we have to win those.”
STREAKS AND STATS
Max Muncy has reached base safely in 32 straight games, which is the longest streak by a Dodger since Yasiel Puig’s 33-game run in 2014. … Murphy had his fifth three-hit game of the season and is batting .338 this month.
Colorado’s Antonio Senzatela allowed only three hits the first six innings before running into trouble. The right-hander worked 6 1/3 innings and surrendered two runs on five hits with five strikeouts. It is the eighth time in 14 starts where he has allowed two or fewer runs.
Los Angeles’ Kenta Maeda went a season-high seven innings and allowed two runs on seven hits with six strikeouts. The righty has 49 strikeouts and 10 walks in his last eight starts since May 10.
Maeda’s only big mistake came in the first inning when he gave up a two-run homer to David Dahl.
Colorado optioned pitcher Jeff Hoffman to Triple-A Albuquerque to make room for OF Garrett Hampson. Hampson played center field and batted second, going 2 for 5.
Colorado: RHP Jon Gray (7-5, 4.18 ERA) gets the call Monday for the start of a three-game series in San Francisco.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (7-1, 2.85 ERA) starts the first of a three-game set Monday at Arizona.
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