Dodgers’ Chris Taylor celebrates birthday with big day against Diamondbacks – Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES ― In the seventh inning of Tuesday’s game between the Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks, a chorus of “Happy Birthday” rose up from the left field bleacher seats. Chris Taylor turned and acknowledged the crowd with a wave of his hand.

By that point in the Dodgers’ 9-1 win, fans had enough reasons to celebrate the game on the field. They had turned to celebrating Taylor’s 33rd birthday, a game that began with him catching a ceremonial first pitch from his father and ended with a nifty line for the veteran utility player: 3 for 3 with two doubles, a walk, and a stolen base.

Mookie Betts established a new personal single-season best with his 36th home run, Will Smith also homered for the Dodgers, and Clayton Kershaw (12-4) threw five strong innings while allowing three hits and one run. In four starts since returning from a shoulder injury, Kershaw has allowed only four runs across 17 innings.

The Dodgers (82-49) have won six of their last seven games to take a commanding 14-game lead over Arizona (69-64), which slipped a half-game behind the San Francisco Giants in the distant race for second place in the National League West.

For the second straight day, the Diamondbacks sent one of their best starting pitchers to the mound against the Dodgers. And for the second straight day, the Dodgers certainly looked like a team capable of hitting the caliber of pitcher they can expect to see in the postseason.

This time, it was Merrill Kelly (10-6) who fell victim to the Dodgers’ balanced attack. Taylor, Jason Heyward and former Diamondback David Peralta each had three hits. Of the Dodgers’ nine starters, only Freddie Freeman did not collect a hit.

The result: The Dodgers raced to a 5-0 lead in the first three innings before the announced crowd of 42,323 at Dodger Stadium. Kelly began the night with a 2.97 ERA. It rose to 3.31 after the right-hander allowed 12 hits and seven runs in five innings.

Betts sent a 428-foot shot into left-center on the first pitch from reliever Scott McGough leading off the sixth. One out later, Smith homered, extending the lead to 9-1. Betts and Freeman took the rest of the night off.

The only blemish on Kershaw’s ledger was a solo home run by Corbin Carroll, just the third home run ever hit by a left-hander against Kershaw’s curveball. Gus Varland, Tyson Miller and Victor Gonzalez combined to throw four shutout innings of relief.

Kershaw’s 22 career victories against Arizona are the most by any Diamondbacks opponent. His 209 career wins are tied with Don Drysdale for the second-most in franchise history, trailing only Don Sutton (233).

Arizona had won 10 of its last 12 games before Monday, but the Dodgers are poised to sweep with a win Wednesday.

More to come on this story.

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