LOS ANGELES – Rich Hill clutched the cardboard sign and walked into the Los Angeles Dodgers dugout. The crowd at Dodger Stadium was sitting on its hands in the bottom of the seventh inning Saturday, minutes after a five-run lead over Arizona had shrunk to two. The second game of the National League division series was no longer a party, a lark, a celebration of the Dodgers' might. The 54,726 fans assembled at Chavez Ravine wore the scars of the past and the tension of the present.
October is a cruel month. The highs feel fleeting. The lows are eternal. Hill sought to counteract the encroaching dread with a hand-crafted message: "Make Some Noise."
The crowd caught Hill's drift. The cheers gathered in volume as the Dodgers mounted a rally. As if on cue, a grounder from Chris Taylor rolled through the legs of Arizona shortstop Ketel Marte. A run scored. The crowd exploded, and the Dodgers had enough to hang on for an 8-5 victory to capture a 2-0 lead in this series.
To get there, the Dodgers required a five-out save from closer Kenley Jansen. The offense maintained its momentum from Game 1.
On Friday, they bruised the Diamondbacks for nine runs. A day later, the offense toppled Diamondbacks left-hander Robbie Ray, a man who entered the game with an ownership deed for his opponents in his back pocket. Ray lasted 4 1/3 innings, yielded four runs and exited on the hook for a defeat.
Maligned for so much of September, the back half of the lineup carried the Dodgers. Logan Forsythe scored three runs. Yasiel Puig collected three hits. Curtis Granderson hopped off the bench to extend a four-run blitz with a single in the fifth inning. Austin Barnes scored twice and roped a critical two-run double.
On the mound, Hill absorbed a first-inning haymaker, a two-run homer by Arizona slugger Paul Goldschmidt, and did not permit another run across four innings. The bullpen strung together the final 15 outs.
For the second night in a row, the seventh inning proved tricky for manager Dave Roberts. He had removed Kenta Maeda in the sixth inning, even as Maeda rolled through the three batters he faced. After Tony Watson surrendered two singles to start the seventh, Roberts went to Brandon Morrow. The first pitch Morrow threw was clobbered for a three-run homer by pinch-hitter Brandon Drury to cut the Dodgers' lead to two.
Kenley Jansen entered with one out in the eighth and got the last five outs.
A bevy of franchise legends assembled before the game. Puig huddled with Don Newcombe during batting practice. Maury Wills threw the first pitch to Roberts. Magic Johnson grabbed a third-row seat next to Sandy Koufax near the Dodgers dugout.
Johnson and Koufax had barely settled in when Arizona took the lead. Hill spun a full-count curveball to outfielder A.J. Pollock. The pitch landed near the top of the strike zone, close enough to raise Hill's hopes. Umpire Phil Cuzzi called it a ball. Pollock took first base. The walk set the tone for the evening, as Hill squabbled over calls with Cuzzi.
There was no debate about what followed. Hill flung a 1-0, 90-mph fastball down the heart of the plate. Goldschmidt unleashed a titanic blast. The baseball clanged across the railing behind the Dodgers' bullpen in left field. Hill needed 27 pitches to finish the inning, and booted a water cooler when he returned to the dugout.
The homer handed Ray a two-run lead. The Dodgers saw him five times during the regular season, and scored more than two runs against him just once. "He's pitched really well against us," Corey Seager said before the game.
Ray entered the night under unorthodox circumstances. Three days earlier, he threw 34 pitches as a reliever in the NL wild-card game. The appearance made him unavailable for Game 1, when the Dodgers squashed overmatched starter Taijuan Walker in one inning.
After a pair of walks in the second, Ray lost control of a fastball while facing Puig. The runners moved into scoring position. Puig plated Enrique Hernandez with a groundout to halve the deficit.
Ray walked four of the first 10 batters he faced. The Dodgers did not produce a hit until the fourth inning. Forsythe chipped a single into left field. Barnes dunked another into right. Puig splashed one into center, flipping his bat and clapping his hands as he ran to first.
The hits did not score a run. Ray took care of that. He lost a slider in the dirt for his third wild pitch of the evening, and Forsythe scored.
After a strikeout by pinch-hitter Kyle Farmer, Taylor pulled the Dodgers ahead with an RBI infield single.
The hammer fell on Ray and his teammates in the fifth. Arizona manager Torey Lovullo ignored Ray's volatility and kept him in the game. Ray rewarded his manager by drilling Justin Turner to start the frame. One batter later, Ray was out of the game, and Roberts called upon Granderson to face reliever Jimmie Scherfy.
Granderson roped a single into right field. Forsythe roped a curveball into left for an RBI single. Barnes sliced an 0-2 double into the left-field corner to bring home both runners.
Puig capped the four-run flurry with an RBI single.