Nathan Eovaldi pitches against the Diamondbacks Thursday night. (Christian Petersen / Getty…)
PHOENIX — Evidently, the Dodgers still have some magic in reserve.
Jerry Hairston Jr.was batting third, Juan Rivera fourth and Luis Cruz fifth, but the Dodgers somehow downed the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-1, on Thursday at Chase Field and increased their lead in the National League West. They moved 11/2 games ahead of the second-place San Francisco Giants, who blew a four-run lead in a walk-off 6-5 loss to the Washington Nationals.
The Dodgers' latest how-did-they-do-that victory came on a day they learned shortstop Dee Gordon would undergo a thumb operation that will sideline him for six weeks.
Scott Van Slyke, a .170 hitter at the start of the game, hit a home run. So did Elian Herrera, who had never previously hit one in his major league career.
Rivera and Cruz both drove in runs. Rivera entered the game batting .255. Cruz was called up from the minor leagues three days earlier.
"They're big league guys," Manager Don Mattingly said. "It's a big league game. You can beat anybody every day. It goes back to our pitching. They keep us in the game, they keep us close. Then you have a chance."
Nathan Eovaldi was the one who gave the Dodgers the chance to win their third consecutive game and fourth in their last five. In the process, Eovaldi earned his first win of the season.
Eovaldi's 0-5 record entering the game was more an indictment of the Dodgers offense than of him, as he had a 2.35 earned-run average in his first five starts. But Eovaldi was as responsible for his last two defeats as anyone. He was charged with eight runs in a loss to the San Francisco Giants on June 25 and five runs in a defeat to the New York Mets five days later.
Facing a team that had lost its last five games, Eovaldi bent but never broke. He loaded the bases to start the second inning, but limited the damage to one run.
Eovaldi pitched six innings and held the Diamondbacks to a run and five hits.
"It's really nice to get the first one out of the way," Eovaldi said.
Kenley Jansen struck out the side in the ninth inning for his third save in as many days and 15th of the season.
Pitching opposite Eovaldi was Wade Miley, who was 9-4 with a 2.87 ERA.
The Dodgers inflicted damage on him immediately. Second baseman Mark Ellis, activated from the disabled list a day earlier, doubled to left and scored on a hit by Rivera. Cruz drove in Hairston later in the inning for a 2-0 lead.
Van Slyke's home run in the fourth made it 3-1.
Herrera's home run in the seventh made it 4-1 and ended Miley's night. The ball sat in a backpack that was in Herrera's locker.
"Incredible — that's something you dream about your whole life," Herrera said.
Ellis, on the other hand, celebrated a return to the familiar. His start was his first since he underwent an emergency operation to save his left leg from amputation. He was two for four with a walk.
"I just wanted to get out there and get it over with," Ellis said.