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    Dodgers complete sweep of Cardinals with resourceful offense
    • May 1, 2023

    LOS ANGELES — Their baby boom having passed, the Dodgers’ welcomed a new arrival — momentum.

    Using eight walks, three stolen bases and situational hitting instead of home runs to fuel the offense, they completed a three-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 6-3 victory Sunday afternoon.

    The three-game winning streak matches their longest this season. But it is their second in the past eight games, moving them three games over .500 (16-13) — also matching a season-high — for the first time since they started the season 5-2.

    “I just feel like we’re playing better baseball together instead of one facet good, one facet not. It’s just nice to see it all come together for a few games,” said Freddie Freeman who had one of the Dodgers’ walks and one of the stolen bases.

    “We would like to have put this together a lot quicker than we did but we have been playing better baseball the last few days. Obviously losing Will (Smith) for awhile with his concussion, everyone felt like having babies at the same time – it’s just nice to get everybody back together again and obviously play some good baseball.”

    A lineup fortified by the returns of Max Muncy and Smith this weekend (even as J.D. Martinez went on the Injured List) proved more resourceful than explosive with the bottom half of the lengthened lineup doing much of the MacGyvering Sunday.

    Jason Heyward torched a double to right-center field leading off the second. Ground outs to the right side by James Outman and Miguel Vargas got him over and got him in.

    In the fourth, Heyward and Outman led off with back-to-back walks. Again, two ground outs moved them over and brought Heyward home. Chris Taylor’s two-out double down the left-field line drove in a second run.

    “I felt like we manufactured all the runs today. Get ‘em over, get ‘em in. That was nice,” Freeman said. “You can’t always win games by hitting home runs.”

    Indeed, Taylor’s double was the Dodgers’ only run-scoring hit of the day. They won despite going 1 for 15 with runners in scoring position. Instead, four runs were driven in by outs and another scored on a wild pitch.

    “It was a clinic in team offense,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

    Dodgers starter Noah Syndergaard put on a different kind of clinic. The right-hander who once had a fastball that exploded on hitters is now reduced to walking carefully through a minefield every start.

    Nothing exploded on him Sunday. But he gave up seven balls with exit velocity exceeding 100 mph while getting just two swings-and-misses through the first five innings. He left after 5⅓ having given up eight hits while striking out no one.

    “It doesn’t really matter to me,” Syndergaard said. “I’m more focused on just getting outs.”

    He left with the 5-3 lead — and wound up getting his first win as a Dodger — thanks to another spare-parts rally by the Dodgers’ offense in the fifth.

    Smith’s leadoff double — a popup down the right field line that first baseman Brendan Donovan gloved but dropped — was the only hit of the two-run inning. Muncy and Heyward followed with back-to-back walks to load the bases.

    One run scored on a wild pitch by Cardinals reliever Drew VerHagen and another when the Cardinals couldn’t turn a double play on David Peralta’s ground ball.

    The Dodgers’ bullpen took over in the sixth inning and Roberts used five relievers to protect the lead the rest of the way. After Tommy Edman led off the sixth inning with a double off Syndergaard and scored on Lars Nootbaar’s RBI single, the Cardinals didn’t get another runner past first base against the Dodgers’ bullpen.

    The Dodgers entered the weekend with a 5.18 bullpen ERA but the relievers allowed just one run in 9 2/3 innings against the Cardinals.

    “We’re starting to feel it a little bit,” Roberts said of the Dodgers building momentum. “I think this series with the bullpen – when you can get a lead and finish a game, that certainly adds to the momentum. I think offensively, getting some guys back on our roster, it just looks better. And guys are starting to get a little bit more comfortable.”

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    ​ Orange County Register