Kenta Maeda’s confidence was waning after going more than two months without a win and he knew he had to make some changes. The Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher made his adjustments between starts and, for at least one night, appeared dominant.
The Japanese right-hander allowed only three hits over seven innings and struck out six as the Dodgers defeated Arizona 4-0 Saturday.
“Tonight, to give us seven strong innings, was really, really good,” manager Dave Roberts said. “More importantly, it was good for our ballclub and our confidence.”
Maeda admitted his mechanics were off the last two months as he went 0-6 in his previous 11 starts. The last three were his worst of the season, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) in 11 innings.
Maeda (8-8) made two big adjustments going into Saturday’s start — he adjusted his arm slot so that it was higher and he was more aggressive with his fastball early.
He retired the side in order his first time through the lineup before Jarrod Dyson led off the fourth with a single. Ketel Marte was the only Arizona player to reach scoring position when he singled to left, stole second with two outs and advanced to third on a wild pitch. The shortstop failed to score as Maeda struck out David Peralta to end the frame.
“By getting the win tonight I was able to bring myself up and feel more confident,” said Maeda, who pitched seven or more scoreless innings in a start for the fifth time in his career. “I was able to mix in everything tonight. The fastball conviction was there and I was able to execute my game plan.”
Maeda also helped his cause at the plate with a pair of sacrifice bunts, including one in the fourth inning in which Corey Seager beat pitcher Alex Young’s throw to home plate , extending Los Angeles’ lead to 4-0.
Caleb Ferguson, Joe Kelly and Kenley Jansen pitched the final two innings as the Dodgers recorded their major-league leading 13th shutout of the season and second of the homestand.
“He just was throwing balls off the edge of the plate, crowding us when he needed to at the right time, and just really didn’t give us a chance to get some extension and do the things that we do best,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said of Maeda.
Max Muncy homered and Russell Martin had two hits and drove in a run for the Dodgers, who have won seven of nine on their current homestand.
Muncy’s solo shot to center off Young in the second inning broke a three-game home run drought. It was only the second homer in the last 16 games for Muncy, who had gone deep four times in the first eight games after the All-Star break.
Young (4-2) surrendered four runs on five hits over 3 1/3 innings. The rookie left-hander had allowed only four earned runs in 18 2/3 innings on the road coming into the game.
“I was just trying to be too perfect, and I feel like I was in an uphill battle from basically the third inning on,” Young said. “I’m just not hitting my spots. I’m just trying to nibble at the corners where most of the time I throw where I want to.”
Kristopher Negrón’s hot start with the Dodgers continued with an RBI single in the third. Negrón is 10 of 29 with seven RBIs since being acquired from Seattle on July 28.
Roberts said Negrón’s single was big because it gave LA some breathing room and allowed Maeda to be more relaxed.
Dodgers’ left fielder Joc Pederson, who entered the game in the fourth inning, had a nice play in the sixth when he ran into the wall to rob Alex Avila of a hit. Pederson was temporarily dazed after his right shoulder slammed into the wall, but he remained in the game.
The Dodgers were defeated by the Diamondbacks 3-2 in 11 innings Friday night, in a game that included a bench-clearing postgame confrontation between the NL West rivals. Cooler heads prevailed 24 hours later, with no incidents or retaliatory pitches.
“I don’t personally believe in it, not in baseball. Don’t get me wrong. It was awesome to win. Whatever happened at the end of the game is what it is,” Arizona first baseman Jake Lamb said.
Dodgers: RHP Ross Stripling is likely to return as a reliever once he is able to recover from a sore neck. Manager Dave Roberts said Stripling — who originally ended up on the injured list due to right biceps tendinitis — will likely not resume baseball activities for another week.
Diamondbacks: RHP Mike Leake (9-8, 4.24 ERA), who was acquired from Seattle last month, makes his 12th career start against LA. He is 5-6 with a 4.02 ERA.
Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (11-2, 1.53 ERA) will be activated off the injured list. He missed one start due to neck soreness.
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