When Will Smith decided to praise every Dodgers reliever who came through against the Phillies, the catcher had a lengthy list to remember.
“DP (David Price) coming in, Joe (Kelly), Blake (Treinen), Victor (González), and Kenley (Jansen) closing it out, and Jimmy (Nelson),” Smith said. “They were all really good. They pounded the zone, put guys away, pitched out of a couple of jams. They were great tonight.”
Smith got his pitchers a bit out of order, but he was in perfect sync with all of them on the mound during yet another impressive win for the strong-armed World Series champs.
Smith hit a two-run homer, Chris Taylor added a solo shot and Los Angeles beat Philadelphia 3-1 on Monday night despite getting just three hits and four baserunners.
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Pinch-hitter Albert Pujols' single in the seventh inning was the only other hit for the Dodgers, but they hung on for their sixth victory in seven games with eight consecutive scoreless innings from seven pitchers, including starter Tony Gonsolin.
Gonsolin yielded four hits and lasted just 3 2/3 rocky innings in his second start of the season, but his bullpen allowed only four singles and didn’t walk a batter.
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Price (2-0) got the win after stranding two runners to end the fourth, and Jansen threw a perfect nine-pitch ninth for his 16th save.
“The bullpen won the ballgame for us,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “They just kept throwing up zeros, and it was really fun to watch. Wasn’t much of a defensive game as far as making plays. These guys just made pitches. When we don’t swing the bats that great and still come away with the victory, it’s huge.”
Bryce Harper drove in a run in the first inning for the Phillies, whose four-game winning streak ended in the opener of a six-game California road trip. While Los Angeles struggled for any baserunners at all, Philadelphia stranded 10 while going 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
“We had some opportunities,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We didn’t cash in on them, and that was the difference in the game.”
Spencer Howard (0-2) tossed two-hit ball into the fifth for Philadelphia, but both those hits were homers. Howard, a native of central California, was otherwise sharp in his first career start in the stadium where he watched Éric Gagné and Clayton Kershaw as a kid with his father, a Los Angeles-area native.
Howard retired the Dodgers' first nine batters, and he even got his first major league hit in the second inning on a double when right fielder Zach McKinstry misread his line drive, which looked catchable.
But Mookie Betts drew a leadoff walk in the fourth, and Smith connected three batters later for his seventh homer, a 411-foot shot.
Taylor chased Howard with his ninth homer leading off the fifth.
Gonsolin missed the first two months of the season with right shoulder inflammation before returning to the Dodgers' rotation last week with a rough 1 2/3-inning start against Pittsburgh. The right-hander's 2021 has not gone as planned after he posted a 2.31 ERA in nine appearances last year and earned a shot at the rotation slot vacated by injured Dustin May this spring.
Gonsolin struggled from the opening pitches of his first home start of the season, allowing two hits and two walks in the first inning. Odúbel Herrera drew a leadoff walk, advanced on Jean Segura's double and scored on Harper's single.
Gonsolin struck out Alec Bohm with the bases loaded on his 30th pitch to hold Philadelphia to just one run in the first.
“It's always nice to get out of some possible damage,” Gonsolin said. “I was able to minimize that and keep it to one run, so that’s definitely a positive. But ultimately I’ve got to stop walking guys and throw more competitive pitches.”
Gonsolin left with two runners on in the fourth after getting a pair of generous third strike calls against Ronald Torreyes and Howard.
“It’s tough,” Girardi said. “I didn’t think we got much help from the umpire in the one inning with Torreyes and Spencer Howard.”
Phillies: SS Didi Gregorius (right elbow inflammation) will resume his rehab assignment Tuesday. His elbow is still swollen and stiff, Girardi said.
Dodgers: OF Cody Bellinger missed his third straight game, and won't play until Wednesday at the earliest. The 2019 NL MVP isn't recovering as quickly as Los Angeles anticipated from left hamstring tightness. Bellinger has appeared in only 16 games this season.
Zach Eflin (2-5, 3.89 ERA) takes the mound for Philadelphia against NL wins leader Julio Urías (9-2, 3.56), who has won five of his last six starts. The game also will be the first at full capacity for Dodger Stadium following California's overnight lifting of many COVID-19 safety measures.