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Will Smith comes through late to lift Dodgers to win over Reds

Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
Dodgers pull away late behind Will Smith's clutch single and Jason Heyward's moonshot in return to team.

LOS ANGELES – Will Smith was the hero after the Reds came back and tied the game, hitting a go-ahead single in the seventh to lead the Dodgers to a clutch win on Friday, 7-3. Smith is now hitting .340 with runners in scoring position and looks like the team’s best clutch hitter.

Veteran left-hander James Paxton (5-0) gave the Dodgers another quality start, throwing six innings and giving up only three runs to keep the Reds at bay. While Paxton did not surrender a walk for his second straight outing, he did give up two home runs which kept Cincinnati in the game. 

After he left, the bullpen shut the door to allow the offense to get the lead, as Michael Grove (who earned the win), Blake Treinen and Daniel Hudson closed out the game. 

The Dodgers offense had a bit of a revamp with some new faces inserted and old faces in new places. Three home runs were hit by Dodger hitters on the night and totaled nine hits while only leaving six runners on base, which is a great sign after a few subpar games prior. 

The Dodgers are now 30-17 on the season and first in the National League West.  

Here are three takeaways:

Dodgers Power Their Way To A Win

Using three home runs, including one from Shohei Ohtani (his 13th of the season), the Dodgers flexed their muscles akin to how they did against San Francisco in the first two games of that series. 

Mookie Betts hit his 51st career leadoff home run in the first inning as well to give him eight on the year, and Jason Heyward crushed one down the right field line for his first blast of the season. With a new look lineup, it seemed the team gained some strength to go with it as well…

Jason Heyward Makes An Early Splash

Heyward was a bit of a revelation for the Dodgers in 2023. He hit 15 home runs in 374 plate appearances last season and was an integral part of the bottom of the order. This year, the team has struggled mightily after the first five hitters and Heyward is looking to flip that. 

Heyward blasted his first home run of the year in his return to action after missing 40 games and made an immediate impact. It is not just his offense though, as Heyward is a Gold Glover and looked fantastic in the outfield in 2023, so he can provide some quality play on that end too. 

Combined with his veteran presence, Dodger fans should be excited about how he can contribute when healthy.

Plethora Of Roster Moves Made 

The Dodgers announced a bunch of roster moves on Friday afternoon. Max Muncy was placed on the injured list with an oblique strain that he sustained in practice. Manager Dave Roberts said that it is only a grade one strain and nothing serious however. 

James Outman was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Outman had a very very slow start and did not look like himself at the plate after a rough stretch which put his batting average around .150. This stint should get him back on track and as Outman is still very young, he still has a bright future ahead of him. 

Jason Heyward was activated off the injured list and Miguel Vargas was recalled. Vargas hit .294 with a .422 OBP and eight home runs this season in Oklahoma City.  Finally, Ricky Vanasco was recalled as well for some better pitching depth and even starting rotation help. 

The Dodgers will send Walker Buehler out to get back on track against Graham Ashcraft for the Reds. First pitch on Saturday night is set for 6:10 PM PST.