Freddie Freeman, Teoscar Hernández key thrilling walk-off win for Dodgers


Dave Roberts cracked a smile, sighed a deep breath of relief, then started to laugh with a disbelieving shake of his head.

“You know what, I don’t know,” the Dodgers manager said of his team’s recurring ability to stage unlikely late-game comebacks. “It doesn’t help my quality of life, waiting for the seventh inning to come alive with the bats.”

Roberts’ heart might be worse for the wear, but his lineup’s flair for the dramatic was once again for the best.

In a 6-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night, the Dodgers scored twice in the seventh inning, then twice again in the ninth, rallying for their 18th comeback win and, thanks to Teoscar Hernández’s game-winning single, third walk-off victory of the season.

“Better late than never,” Roberts added, proudly, in his postgame news conference. “When it matters, they do come alive. They keep fighting … There was fight to the end.”

Teammates swarm Teoscar Hernández after his walk-off single. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Really, the Dodgers had to grind through the entirety of a series-opening win against the Diamondbacks in front of a sold-out Chavez Ravine crowd.

After leading by two runs early, Bobby Miller tip-toed around disaster in a two-run fourth inning. After retaking the lead on a monstrous Shohei Ohtani blast in the seventh, the bullpen faltered repeatedly in the closing innings to hand the Diamondbacks a 5-4 edge.

With two out in the ninth, and shutdown Arizona closer Paul Sewald on the mound — the veteran right-hander had given just one run in 18 prior outings this season — it looked like that scoreline would stand.

But then, in the kind of sequence the Dodgers have produced time and again this season, the team flipped the script for a last-gasp win.

First, Will Smith lined a double off the wall. Then, even with first base open, the Diamondbacks elected to let Sewald pitch to Freddie Freeman, pushing the Dodgers to their last strike after the first baseman fell behind 0-and-2 in the count.

Alas, with chants of “Fredd-ie! Fredd-ie!” raining from the stands, Freeman turned on a 93 mph fastball over the outer edge of the zone, roping a game-tying double into the right-center field gap.

“We’ve done it before,” Freeman said. “We’ve done it to other teams.”

And once the dam broke, there was no holding the Dodgers back.

Moments later, Hernández ended the game with a bouncing single through the left side of the infield, easily scoring Freeman to send Dodger Stadium into delirium.

It might not have been as unlikely as their seven-run ninth inning in Colorado last month, or as jarring as their seven-run explosion in extra innings against the San Francisco Giants last week.

Freddie Freeman sprints down the third-base line to score the winning run. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

But in some ways, after going down to their last strike, Tuesday felt like the Dodgers’ most dramatic, heart-stopping, out-of-nowhere victory yet.

“I just think all night long, we fought and took good at-bats,” Roberts said. “Just not relenting. Just [so much] fight from the guys.”

The game could’ve gotten away from the Dodgers (53-33) much earlier in the night, when Miller’s five-inning, two-run start nearly came unraveled in the top of the fourth.

After giving up a leadoff single to Joc Pederson, Miller hung a two-strike slider to notorious Dodgers killer Christian Walker, teeing the Arizona slugger up for his 15th career home run at Dodger Stadium.

From there, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Gabriel Moreno bounced singles through the infield. Eugenio Suárez, who entered the night batting just .196, walked on a full-count fastball to load the bases.

With no outs, and the Dodgers’ early 2-0 lead suddenly evaporated, Miller was on the verge of spiraling like he did in a five-run inning at Wrigley Field in April, or in two laborious frames against the Chicago White Sox last week.

“I tended to try and pinpoint a little too much,” said Miller, whose velocity was slightly down in his third start back from a two-month shoulder injury. “Instead of just letting everything rip, which is how I should normally be.”

On the precipice of disaster, though, the 25-year-old flame-thrower authored a different ending.

In just 10 pitches, he induced a strikeout, a pop-out and a groundout to retire the side. As he walked off the mound, he flexed his arms and let out a celebratory scream, having done just enough to keep the tie score intact.

“For me, that was all compete,” Roberts said, calling Miller’s escape a potential inflection point in the pitcher’s season, after he entered the night with a 6.75 ERA. “It wasn’t about mechanics, it was about trying to keep your team in the ballgame.”

Said Miller: “I knew the game was close, and I knew our offense was going to do the job and get us back in it.”

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About an hour later, that faith came to fruition.

Ohtani landed the first blow in the seventh, giving the Dodgers a 4-3 lead by hammering his NL-leading 27th home of the season halfway up the right-field pavilion.

Then, after the Diamondbacks (41-44) tied the score on a Blake Treinen throwing error in the eighth, and went up 5-4 on Pederson’s solo blast against Evan Phillips in the ninth, the Dodgers dashed their latest sprinkle of late-game magic.

Fittingly, it was Hernández — the offseason signing who has emerged as the team’s most consistent high-leverage hitter — who walked it off by driving in his 56th run of the season, trailing only Ohtani for most on the club.

“We’re never going to be out of it, we’re always going to be fighting until the last out,” Hernández said. “When you have guys like Ohtani, Freddie, Smith, Mookie when he’s in the lineup; when you’re behind those guys, all the big moments in the game are going to find you.”

And, just as he and the club have been doing all year, Hernández and the Dodgers delivered when it mattered, causing their manager’s heart to skip a beat as they poured out of the dugout in another dramatic win.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.