A.J. Pollock on Friday hit a two-run homer, while Chris Taylor robbed a pair of potential extra-base hits on defense in the ninth inning as the Los Angeles Dodgers kept pace in the National League West race by beating the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-2.
Tony Gonsolin’s second pitch of the game was smoked by Arizona’s Josh Rojas before Los Angeles left fielder Pollock robbed a potential extra-base hit, leaping at the warning track to snag the line drive.
Gonsolin raised his arms in the air then tipped his cap to Pollock.
It was not the last time that the Dodgers’ pitchers would get some big-time help from their defense.
The Dodgers (99-55) remained one game behind the San Francisco Giants (100-54) with eight games left for both teams.
The Giants also won on Friday, beating the Colorado Rockies 7-2.
“I’m sure they’re looking at us saying: ‘They just keep winning,’” Pollock said. “And we’re looking at them saying: ‘They just keep winning.’”
Pollock continued his excellence this year against his former team. The left fielder — who played for the Diamondbacks from 2012 to 2018 — was 19 of 38 (.500) with three homers and nine RBIs in nine games against Arizona coming into Friday.
The 33-year-old robbed Rojas of an extra-base hit with a leaping grab in the first and launched his 17th homer of the season to left center in the second. The two-run shot gave the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.
Pollock’s performance and some solid pitching allowed the Dodgers to continue their mastery over the Diamondbacks this season. Los Angeles have won 15 of 17 games and have a 119-46 scoring advantage in the series.
Gonsolin (4-1) gave up two runs over five innings. He struck out seven, allowed three hits and walked none.
Los Angeles’ bullpen followed with a stellar performance. Alex Vesia, Corey Knebel, Blake Treinen and Kenley Jansen all threw a scoreless inning.
Jansen earned his 35th save.
Taylor — who was a defensive replacement for Pollock — helped his closer with a diving grab in left field for the first out of the ninth and another running grab for the second, sliding after he caught the ball deep in the corner.
“The diving play — if he doesn’t make that play — it’s a different inning and a different game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
“I’m not sure if I’m making that play — either one of those,” Pollock said. “We might still be playing.”
Humberto Castellanos (2-2) took the loss, giving up three runs over five innings.
Kole Calhoun hit a solo homer in the second inning, while Josh VanMeter had an RBI single.
Gavin Lux started in center field for just the second time in his career because of injuries to Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger. He showed he could cover ground in the fourth when he ran far into the deep-right center-field gap and tracked down a line drive from Calhoun.
The defensive gem was so unexpected that Daulton Varsho — who started on first base — was nearly on third when Lux caught the ball and was easily doubled off for the third out of the inning.
“He’s such an athlete,” Pollock said. “He’s not overthinking it.”
The Diamondbacks fell to 49-105 and are 51 games out of first place in the NL West while trying to avoid their worst season in franchise history.
They were 51-111 in 2004 and have to win at least three of their final eight games to avoid tying that mark.
Calhoun said that there is still plenty of motivation to finish the season on a good note.
“We have a chance to impact how the post-season lays out,” Calhoun said. “We want to go out and play good baseball against these guys.”
In Oakland, California, Frankie Montas pitched two-hit ball over seven innings and became the first Athletics pitcher in 20 years to reach 200 strikeouts in a season, helping them pound the Houston Astros 14-2 to support their slim playoff hopes.
The A’s snapped a four-game skid to remain four games behind the Yankees for the second American League wild card berth, with the Seattle Mariners — who held off the Los Angeles Angels 6-5 in Anaheim — and the Toronto Blue Jays also in the way.
In other games on Friday, it was:
‧ Braves 5, Padres 6 (resumed)
‧ Braves 4, Padres 0
‧ Brewers 5, Mets 1
‧ Cubs 5, Cardinals 8 (G1)
‧ Cubs 4, Cardinals 12 (G2)
‧ Indians 0, White Sox 1
‧ Orioles 5, Rangers 8
‧ Phillies 8, Pirates 6
‧ Rays 8, Marlins 0
‧ Red Sox 3, Yankees 8
‧ Reds 8, Nationals 7 (11i)
‧ Tigers 1, Royals 3
‧ Twins 3, Blue Jays 1
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