Bellinger, Dodgers beat D-backs 3-1 to return to NLCS
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Bellinger, Dodgers beat D-backs 3-1 to return to NLCS

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Los Angeles Dodger Austin Barnes, right, celebrated with Yasiel Puig in the dugout after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning.

PHOENIX >> Led by a big Japanese right-hander and a rookie from just down the road, the Los Angeles Dodgers are headed back to the NL Championship Series.

Cody Bellinger homered, drove in two runs and flipped over a dugout railing to steal an out for a dominant Yu Darvish, helping the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 3-1 tonight to finish a three-game sweep in their NL Division Series.

Darvish, acquired from Texas in a trade deadline deal, struck out seven over five innings to outpitch Arizona’s Zack Greinke and earn the righty his first postseason victory in three tries.

Four Los Angeles relievers combined to preserve a three-hitter. Kenley Jansen worked around a single by David Peralta for a three-out save, striking out Paul Goldschmidt to end it. Only four batters reached base all night for the Diamondbacks, including Daniel Descalso with a homer.

The Dodgers, who won 104 games for the best record in baseball and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, face the winner of the Nationals-Cubs series in the NLCS. Los Angeles lost there to World Series champion Chicago last year.

Bellinger — from nearby Chandler, Arizona — hit his homer in the fifth, then made a daring catch to end the bottom of the inning. The rookie first baseman fell into the Dodgers dugout as he snagged Jeff Mathis’ popup, nearly dropping into the lap of manager Dave Roberts.

The 22-year-old Bellinger is the youngest Dodger ever to homer in the postseason — he’s 75 days younger than Corey Seager was when he set the mark last fall. He was just 1 for 12 with five strikeouts in his first postseason before hitting Greinke’s 3-1 pitch over the wall in left for a 2-0 lead.

Bellinger also brought home Chris Taylor with a groundout in the first inning, and Austin Barnes chased Greinke with a leadoff homer in the sixth.

After Ketel Marte’s first-inning bunt single, Darvish sent down 13 in a row before Descalso hit his second homer of the series. The two-out shot barely cleared the right-field fence over Yasiel Puig’s glove to cut the lead to 2-1.

Darvish left after hitting pinch-hitter Christian Walker in the bill of his helmet to begin the sixth.

Greinke — the ex-Dodger signed to a $206.5 million, six-year contract by Arizona before the 2016 season — gave up three runs and four hits in five-plus innings. He struggled with his command, walking a season-high five and throwing 103 pitches through five innings. Greinke faced 3-2 counts against five of his first eight batters and was at 54 pitches through two innings.

The Dodgers tinkered with Darvish’s mechanics after the trade, and he was masterful through most of the night, mixing a 98 mph fastball with his deep repertoire of offspeed pitches. He allowed two hits and didn’t walk any over 74 pitches.

Arizona won its last six regular-season games against the Dodgers, but Los Angeles dominated its NL West rival when it mattered most, sweeping an opponent in the postseason for the first time since the 2009 NLDS against St. Louis.

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