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Walker Buehler stymies the Reds with 6 dominant innings in the streaking Dodgers’ 4-0 victory


LOS ANGELES — Walker Buehler pitched six sharp innings with seven strikeouts in his third start since returning from Tommy John surgery, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 4-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday night.

Buehler (1-1) yielded three hits and no walks in a dominant performance to earn his first major league victory since May 24, 2022. After looking somewhat shaky and wild in his first two starts back from his second Tommy John procedure, the two-time All-Star controlled his breaking pitches against Cincinnati and rediscovered the form he has usually shown when healthy during his first six seasons with the Dodgers.

Buehler said he changed his position on the rubber since his last start, and “a lot of things clicked into place.”

“It was finally fun again,” Buehler said with a smile. “No, it’s just good to put one together. … The (velocity) wasn’t as good as it has been, not that that was intentional, but I think I was really trying to command it, and that’s what happens. I think there’s enough velo in there to still be pretty good. Just felt like it finally worked.”

Buehler and his three relievers combined on a three-hitter, with the bullpen pitching three perfect innings.

“He’s confident by nature, but I still think that when you go out there and do it, that solidifies the confidence, especially coming back from Tommy John,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Freddie Freeman had two hits and drove in a run for the Dodgers, who have won 18 of 24 games to surge 7 1/2 games ahead of San Diego atop the NL West. Teoscar Hernández and Andy Pages also had run-scoring hits for Los Angeles.

“A healthy Walker Buehler, that’s huge for us,” Freeman said. “You can’t say enough about him. I feel for someone who’s gone through injuries like that. It’s been a long road back for him. Whatever happens down the road, so be it.”

Graham Ashcraft (3-3) yielded three hits, three walks and three runs over five innings for the Reds, who have lost two straight and 14 of 17. Cincinnati was shut out for the fourth time this season.

“They put some good swings on the ball, (but) there was only one hard-hit ball throughout the game,” Ashcraft said. “Of course, the walks killed me.”

The Reds lost despite handling Shohei Ohtani, who went 0 for 4 for only the fifth time since joining the Dodgers. Mookie Betts also got his first rest day of the season for the Dodgers, who moved Ohtani to the leadoff spot.

Ashcraft held the Dodgers hitless for the first three innings, but he walked Freeman and Hernández in the fourth before Pages delivered an RBI single. Hernández then scored on Gavin Lux’s groundout.

“You give them credit,” Cincinnati manager David Bell said. “The hits (Los Angeles) ended up getting were maybe not hit real hard, but at the same time, they put themselves in position to score by getting on base, grinding out at-bats and making it tough on Graham.”

Jake Fraley was gifted a one-out triple in the fifth when Dodgers left fielder Miguel Vargas inexplicably cut in front of Pages, causing both outfielders to miss a catchable ball. Buehler calmly got two more outs.

“That’s kind of the stuff I play for, what we all talk about,” Buehler said. “You get to the game, and kind of going pedestrian and well, and then you get into a spot like that, and it … gets you back going. For me, every time I can do that and be successful is such a huge thing, being out as long as I was.”

Miguel Rojas doubled and scored on Freeman’s single in the fifth. Freeman then doubled and scored on Hernández’s single in the eighth.

Reds outfielder Jacob Hurtubise got his first major league hit with a single in the third inning. The 26-year-old U.S. Military Academy graduate was called up Monday, becoming the first major leaguer to use a new exemption policy allowing West Point grads to defer their military service while playing professional sports.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw threw off the mound before the game in his latest step in his return from offseason shoulder surgery. He isn’t expected to begin his 17th season with Los Angeles until July or August. … RHP Bobby Miller (right shoulder) also threw a bullpen session. He hasn’t pitched in a game since April 13.

UP NEXT

Los Angeles native Hunter Greene (2-2, 3.27 ERA) will make the second Dodger Stadium start of his career for Cincinnati. The Dodgers haven’t announced their starter.

___

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB



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