LOS ANGELES — The regular season is winding down to its final month and the Dodgers need to make it count if they want to capture their ninth consecutive National League West title.
The Dodgers were finally able to capitalize on a rare opportunity by beating the Braves 5-3 on Monday at Dodger Stadium on a night when the Giants lost to the Brewers at Oracle Park, 3-1. That moved Los Angeles to 1 1/2 games back of San Francisco in the division standings.
Los Angeles is now at a point in the season that eyes are drifting toward the scoreboard to keep tabs on how its rival up north is doing. Just ask manager Dave Roberts.
“I was aware of what was going on,” Roberts said. “But that’s just part of being a competitor, which we all are, and being a fan, which we all are. But our main focus is, obviously, winning this game against the Braves.”
Los Angeles clubbed four homers behind Julio Urías’ six innings en route to his Major League-best 15th victory. The left-hander held nothing back in his 100th career appearance, allowing two runs on four hits, while striking out seven and not issuing a walk.
“This is my first season with so many innings. I’ve never pitched this much before in my big league career,” said Urías, who now has 150 2/3 innings. “Physically and mentally, I feel good.”
Urías carried a perfect game into the fifth inning as he sat down the opponent with his fastball, curveball and changeup. It was reminiscent of his three perfect innings out of the bullpen in Game 7 of the 2020 NLCS against Atlanta, in which he shut the door and helped send the Dodgers to the World Series.
Urías’ perfecto bid ended when Max Muncy was unable to scoop a throw that Justin Turner fired from third, giving Austin Riley a leadoff single in the fifth. The southpaw retired four of the next five batters he faced until Atlanta hit two home runs off of him in the sixth.
“He was fantastic. Coming off the IL, he just picked up where he left off,” Roberts said, “I thought he held his stuff, made good pitches. They took a couple good swings on him in that sixth inning, but I thought, overall, he gave us exactly what we needed. He’ll be ready to go against the Giants.”
The offense supplied enough power at the start of the game to offset the long balls against Urías. Muncy mashed his 29th of the year in the first to snap out of his 1-for-24 stretch, while Will Smith extended the Dodgers’ lead with a solo shot in the second.
“The homers tonight, the at-bats, taking walks when we needed to, I thought we did a really nice job against [Drew] Smyly,” Roberts said. “To put up a couple crooked numbers and get a win was great. There were also some great defensive plays. Just really good stuff. [That was] sound baseball.”
In the third inning, Mookie Betts blasted a solo shot to left field on his bobblehead night and Corey Seager hit a two-run shot to left-center field. The offense managed only one hit after the fourth inning, but that didn’t stop the Dodgers from seeing the positives out of the win.
Though Los Angeles has two games left against the Braves in the series, their eyes are trained on the weekend series in San Francisco.
“We’re ready, it’s going to be a tremendous series [against the Giants]. This is a series that every baseball fan has been waiting for,” Urías said. “We need to win these two games left with the Braves before we go up there to do what we need to. … We need to come out of the series with the advantage over them.”