ATLANTA (AP) — The Los Angeles Dodgers are hitting home runs at a record pace, and manager Dave Roberts loves every minute of it.
“It makes me look really good, and it makes the Dodgers look really good,” Roberts said. “These are guys that really understand situations, what a pitcher is trying to do to them. Guys like that you want in big spots.”
Cody Bellinger hit his 41st home run, Max Muncy and Justin Turner connected against reliever Sean Newcomb in the seventh inning, and Los Angeles beat the Atlanta Braves 8-3 Friday night in a matchup of NL division leaders.
It was nothing new for the powerful Dodgers, who set a major league mark with 22 homers in a five-game span when Will Smith launched a two-run shot off Jerry Blevins in the eighth.
“I think we’re a pretty complete team all around,” Muncy said. “Obviously the home runs are what you notice, but look at what happens before the home runs.”
Los Angeles continued to dominate the Braves, too. The Dodgers improved to 18-6 against Atlanta since 2016, using Muncy’s three-run homer and Turner’s solo shot to lead 6-3 after Newcomb replaced starter Mike Soroka.
Los Angeles led 1-0 in the second when Bellinger crushed a homer to right-center , his fourth in five games to take the NL lead. He began the night tied with Angels star Mike Trout for most in the majors.
The NL East-leading Braves pounced on Kenta Maeda in the bottom half, going ahead 3-1 on Matt Joyce’s two-run double and Ronald Acuña Jr.’s hard RBI single to left-center.
Maeda avoided further trouble when Freddie Freeman lined out with the bases loaded. The right-hander struck out seven straight before Josh Donaldson singled with two outs in the fifth.
Adam Kolarek (5-3), who replaced Maeda and pitched 1 1/3 hitless innings, got the win. Julio Urías worked three scoreless innings for his fourth save.
The two-time defending NL champion Dodgers, who eliminated the Braves from the postseason last year and swept them at home in May, got a run back in the third off Soroka on Joc Pederson’s RBI single.
Soroka has gone six straight starts without a win, but was in line for his 11th when Newcomb (5-3) replaced him with two outs in the seventh. Soroka allowed three runs and seven hits. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth when Edwin Ríos grounded into a double play.
But the Atlanta bullpen settled into its familiar role of falling apart this month. Newcomb set the tone by walking the first batter he faced.
“When you come in, you can’t walk guys,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I know it happens and they’re not trying to or anything like that, but it’s rough when you keep adding the baserunners. The most important person that guy faces when he comes out of the bullpen is that first one pretty much all the time.”
Muncy’s 30th homer sailed into the seats in right-center as the sellout crowd moaned. Turner followed with a drive to the same part of the ballpark, the 14th time the Dodgers have gone back-to-back this season.
Muncy figured Newcomb would come back with a slider after starting him off with two breaking balls and a fastball.
“It kind of popped out of his hand a little bit,” Muncy said. “He didn’t throw it where he wanted to and I was able to put the barrel to it.”
The NL West leaders are 13-3 since July 30.
Muncy is the first Dodgers player with consecutive seasons of 30 homers since Shawn Green in 2001-02. … Acuña stole his NL-leading 29th base and needs one more to join Trout in 2012 as the only player in baseball history with a 30-30 season before his 22nd birthday. Acuña has 35 homers. … The Dodgers won their 82nd game to clinch a winning record and haven’t had a losing season since 2010.
Dodgers: Roberts said INF Chris Tayler (broken left forearm) and utilityman Kiké Hernández (left hand sprain) could return by the middle of next week’s homestand against Toronto and the New York Yankees. Both are on rehab assignments.
Braves: CF Ender Inciarte left after hurting his right hamstring while rounding third base to score a run. Rafael Ortega took his place. … SS Dansby Swanson has missed 22 games with a bruised right foot and has no timetable yet for a rehab assignment.
Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-2) pitched seven scoreless innings last Sunday against Arizona and leads the majors with a 1.45 ERA. In four career starts against Atlanta, he is 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA.
Braves: RHP Mike Foltynewicz (4-5, 6.24 ERA) will face the Dodgers for the fourth time. He is 1-2 with a 6.23 ERA against Los Angeles.
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