The Dodgers must have been really happy LeBron James is coming to the Lakers.
Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson, Max Muncy, and Matt Kemp all hit home runs, as the Los Angeles Dodgers destroyed the Pittsburgh Pirates, 17-1, on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers were losers of three out of their last four games entering the night, but the offense erupted for a season-high 17 runs and 21 hits against the suddenly spiraling Pirates.
"It was a clinic tonight," said Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts. "Everyone sort of fed off of what he [Kemp] was doing at the plate. Up and down the lineup, but obviously the centerpiece was Matt."
Los Angeles became the first team to record 20 hits before the seventh inning in all of Major League Baseball this season.
Things got off to a bad start for Pittsburgh in the bottom of the first, when Muncy reached base on an error by pitcher Nick Kingham.
Muncy went to second on the mistake and advanced to third on a balk by the rookie starter. He scored two batters later on a slow dribbler by Bellinger that Kingham was late to get to, and the Dodgers led 1-0.
"I think it all started with Cody beating out that little dribbler," said Kemp of the play. "That got everything started and after that we were all rolling."
After a single and a walk loaded the bases, the second run of the game came home on this head-scratching play:
The Bucs brought one back in the top half of the second inning, as Pittsburgh catcher Elias Diaz clobbered an 84MPH changeup from Alex Wood into the seats in left field.
"I threw one bad changeup," said Wood of the home run. "Overall, I felt pretty good and I'm moving in the right direction."
Unfortunately for the Pirates, the ship sank after that, as the Dodgers delivered a right hook of their own in the bottom of the third.
Cody Bellinger hit his 17th home run of the season on a four-seam fastball to dead-center and the rout was on.
Bellinger reached base safely in all of his plate appearances, finishing the night going 2-for-3 with three runs, two RBI, and a walk.
Joc Pederson and Max Muncy hit back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the fourth, as the Dodgers scored six runs and batted around against Pirates' rookie pitcher Tanner Anderson who was making his Major League Debut.
"For us to be able to get to their pen like we did, that's going to influence the rest of the series," said Roberts of facing Anderson and chasing Kingham early. "He had a good arm [Anderson], but then a lot of mistakes he was making were over the big part of the plate. It's not easy, this is a tough league."
Pederson and Muncy became the eighth duo to go back-to-back this season for the Boys in Blue, and Muncy has now reached base safely in 31 of his last 33 games since May 23.
In case once wasn't enough, the Dodgers batted around again in the bottom of the fifth as they scored three more runs against Anderson.
The Dodgers became the first team since 2011 to bat around in three consecutive innings when they scored four more runs in the bottom of the sixth, punctuated by a three-run homer from Matt Kemp.
Kemp left the game after the inning, finishing with a career-high tying five hits, four RBI and four runs scored. Kemp has hits in eight consecutive plate appearances, following an RBI groundout in his first at-bat on Sunday.
"It's been pretty good. I made some adjustments and have been working on some things," said Kemp of his 8-for-9 start to the month of July, but he was alright not finishing the game. "When you're up 17-to-1, you don't want anything freaky to happen."
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In 29 games against the Pirates at Dodger Stadium in his career, Kemp is batting .345, with 27 runs, 12 doubles, one triple, three home runs and 17 RBI.
Wood (5-5) earned his fourth consecutive win, allowing one run on six hits with no walks and three strikeouts in six innings of work.
"I probably lead the league in runs per start now after that game," said Wood of the run support he received. "17 is a lot. Anytime you get that, you're happy."
In his last four starts, Wood has a 2.19 ERA, with 18 strikeouts and only three walks.
"Winning is fun. Four in a row is nice, especially where I was after that three-start stretch," said Wood. "I'm feeling good and I'm just trying to keep moving forward."
Caleb Ferguson celebrated his 22nd birthday, and earned a save after tossing three scoreless innings of relief.
"To be completely honest with you, I didn't even realize it til after the game when Justin Turner said something," said Ferguson of the save. "I'm learning about myself more and more. Every time I go out I'm improving."
Every Dodger starter (including Wood) had a hit in the game.
The Dodgers are 3-1 against the Pirates this season and have outscored the Bucs by a combined score of 39-19.
The LeBron Effect:
Fans in attendance sported Lakers No. 23 LeBron James jerseys at Dodger Stadium as many of the team's players celebrated the Kings' arrival as well.
Actually, it was Joc Pederson:
Dodgers radio broadcaster Charley Steiner was doing the play-by-play in the fourth inning when he mistakenly took Joc Pederson for Max Muncy. Steiner did the entirety of Pederson's home run call all the way into the dugout before realizing his mistake.
Anticipate the score to be a lot smaller on Tuesday as RHP Ivan Nova takes the mound for the Pirates against LHP Clayton Kershaw for the Dodgers. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10PM PST.
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