Walker Buehler spins gem to help Dodgers take down Reds

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
For the first time since returning from injury, Buehler looked like his old self and dominated the Reds' rotation.

LOS ANGELES — Buehler delivered a shutout performance as the Dodgers allowed just three hits all game long in a 4-0 win at Dodger Stadium on Saturday night.

It was the first victory for Buehler this season (1-1) and his first in 725 days. He worked six dominant innings for his squad, providing his deepest start of the year so far. The 29-year-old threw 55 strikes on 78 pitches, which was also the most that he’s thrown this season. He was able to set the tone all night long as he delivered first-pitch strikes to 16 of the 21 batters that he faced.

On offense, Freddie Freeman led the way with a double and an RBI single. Andy Pages and Teoscar Hernandez also contributed with RBI singles of their own while Gavin Lux brought in a run with a groundout. The lineup had no trouble getting the job done despite the absence of Mookie Betts. He was given the day off as Miguel Rojas got the start at shortstop.

The Dodgers are now 31-17 and have taken two of the first three games in the series over the Reds. They will look to secure a series victory in the finale on Sunday to win their second series in a row.

Here are three takeaways:

Buehler is back

Exactly two years ago was the last time that Buehler had earned a victory at Dodger Stadium. He came through in front of the home crowd with what was easily his premier start of the season so far. He struck out seven batters and walked none, allowing just three hits during his outing.

He did a nice job working out of trouble in the fifth inning after allowing a one-out triple to Jake Fraley. He would retire the next two batters to keep Cincinnati off the board and keep his scoreless start alive. After looking much more wild and overwhelmed in his two previous outings, it was evident that he felt much more calm and controlled.

Buehler has acknowledged that it would take time for him to readjust, but his outing on Saturday made it seem like he hasn’t missed a beat. The righty will only continue to improve as time progresses and he keeps getting his legs back under him. The Los Angeles rotation continues to look scarier by the day, with Clayton Kershaw still yet to make his season debut. Regardless of what happens the rest of the way for Buehler, Saturday’s start was a sight for sore eyes that Dodger fans have been longing for since 2022.

Freeman leads the way

With Mookie Betts missing his first game of the year and Shohei Ohtani going 0-4, Freddie Freeman was left to do some of the heavy lifting. Ohtani went 0-4 for just the fifth time as a Dodger. Freeman finished the day 2-3 and contributed an RBI single in the fifth inning.

His double in the eighth helped Los Angeles add on a fourth run. He came around to score on a check-swing single from Teoscar Hernandez that managed to escape into right field. Delivering the team’s only two-out RBI of the game, he did a great job coming through in the clutch.

Freeman is hitting .295 this year and slugging .451. He has the second-most doubles on the team this season with 13, and trails just Betts and Ohtani for the team lead in hits. As the only member of the “big three” to produce on Saturday night, his effort was greatly appreciated.

Bullpen goes perfect

The Dodger bullpen did an excellent job working behind Buehler. Michael Grove, Daniel Hudson and J.P. Feyereisen combined for three perfect innings. The trio tallied four strikeouts, lifting the team total to 11 on the night.

Feyereisen has now pitched seven consecutive scoreless innings. It has been an impressive rebound after allowing three earned runs in each of his first two appearances this season. As for Grove, he has now allowed just one earned run across 6.1 innings in May. Hudson’s 20 strikeouts this season is second among Dodger bullpen pitchers.

The Los Angeles bullpen has done a great job all season long. They have contributed a lot to the team’s 3.17 ERA, which is the second-best in the National League. The bullpen finished off what was a three-hitter against a struggling Cincinnati squad. The Reds have the second-worst team batting average in baseball at .219.

The Dodgers and Reds will square off in the series finale at 1:10 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. Los Angeles is looking to take three out of four and keep Cincinnati from salvaging a split. They will start LA native Hunter Green (2-2, 3.27 ERA). The Dodgers are yet to announce their starter for the game.