Dodgers use 6-run 8th inning to beat Reds in home opener – Daily News

LOS ANGELES ― Freddie Freeman stood on second base, soaking it all in. His first home game at Dodger Stadium had allowed a rare baseball moment, a natural pause in the action as a sold-out crowd chanted his first name over and over.

The noise grew loud enough that Freeman had to acknowledge it. He removed his helmet, waved to the crowd with his left hand, then tapped his helmet against his chest with his right. The Orange County native waited out a Cincinnati Reds pitching change on Thursday night in a place where he figures to be for most of the next six years: the center of the action.

Freeman’s ground-rule double, followed by Trea Turner’s RBI single against reliever Tony Santillan, snapped a tie in the eighth inning of the Dodgers’ eventual 9-3 victory over the Reds.

With four generations of his family in attendance, it was the perfect welcome-home moment for the 32-year-old first baseman.

“That’s as special as it gets right there,” Freeman said. “You have those feelings before coming out on the line for the (pregame) intros, but usually once the game starts those feelings go away. The fans created a moment for me in the eighth inning and it’s something I’ll never forget. It was a special night for me.”

Later in the eighth inning, Will Smith knocked Santillan out of the game with a three-run home run, turning what had been a close contest into a comfortable victory in the Dodgers’ home opener. The Dodgers scored three runs in the first inning, six in the eighth, and nothing in between. They collected 14 hits in total.

Starting pitcher Walker Buehler threw 5⅔ solid innings in his second start of 2022. A two-run home run by Aristides Aquino ended Buehler’s day and spoiled the Dodgers’ shutout bid in the sixth inning. The right-hander allowed five hits, walked three and struck out four.

“I had some kind of weird at-bats in there and Will steered me through it,” Buehler said. “That’s what he’s gotten so good at. Hats off to him.”

The Dodgers used five consecutive singles in the first inning to score three runs. Their 2-through-6 hitters – Freeman, Turner, Justin Turner, Max Muncy and Smith – effectively sacrificed power for contact against Reds opener Luis Cessa. Smith’s dribbler under the glove of shortstop Kyle Farmer never left the infield, while Justin Turner scored to give the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.

Cessa gave way to left-hander Reiver Sanmartin to begin the second inning, and a new game broke out. Bellinger scorched a line-drive single to right field, but the next 10 Dodgers were retired in order. The announced crowd of 52,995 grew quiet.

Roberts said the Dodgers were prepared to see Sanmartin after Cessa’s one inning.

“The lineup construction … that’s why I did what I did as far as spacing some guys out, thinking that Sanmartin was going to get most of the (innings),” he said.

Buehler, meanwhile, escaped a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, then found trouble again with two outs in the sixth. The right-hander walked Tyler Stephenson on five pitches. The next batter, Aquino, took a powerful hack at a letter-high fastball on a 2-and-2 count.

Buehler’s velocity was routinely touching 96 mph in the first inning but had fallen to 93.5 on his 98th and final pitch, which Aquino planted over the fence in right-center field. It was the first home run he’s allowed this season.

“I wish I’d thrown it a little bit harder and he wouldn’t have hit it,” Buehler said. “He’s a talented guy and got to it. Hats off to him; I kind of made the pitch I wanted to.”

Sanmartin effectively pitched to contact over five shutout innings, striking out two and leaving with a 3-2 deficit. That would have qualified as the most surprising performance of the night were it not for Brandon Drury.

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