The Cincinnati Reds will try to keep the magic going and complete a sweep of the visiting Los Angeles Dodgers when the teams conclude their three-game series on Thursday afternoon.
The Reds erased a five-run deficit on Tuesday and won 9-8 on Matt McLain's single that capped a three-run, ninth-inning rally. Cincinnati climbed out of a four-run hole on Wednesday thanks to the speed and power of Elly De La Cruz and the first career home run from Will Benson, a walk-off shot that gave the Reds an 8-6 win.
De La Cruz and Benson became the first Reds teammates to hit their first career homers in the same game since 1907.
It marked the first time the Reds have erased deficits of four or more runs to win back-to-back games since 1975.
"It's fun to play like this and it's fun to watch our players play like this," Cincinnati manager David Bell said. "They can't wait to get the ballpark every day. They can't wait to be together. They can't wait to work.
"And it's just so nice to see when you play well, you have a little bit of success and you're working so hard. We just continue to believe more and more what we're capable of, individually and most importantly as a team, and that's what's happening right now."
The Dodgers are not enjoying the same kind of vibe right now. Their bullpen endured another late-game meltdown on Wednesday as Evan Phillips surrendered the 420-foot homer to Benson in the bottom of the ninth.
Los Angeles used five relievers for a second straight night, surrendering six hits and two runs over the final five-plus innings on Wednesday. A night earlier, the bullpen gave up five runs over 3 1/3 innings.
The Dodgers' bullpen ERA is to 4.75 -- 26th in the majors.
"They're not throwing the ball well," Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said. "There are walks in there. There are hit batsmen in there. There's no punch. And then you're getting the walk. That's a bad combo."
The Reds will send struggling Graham Ashcraft (3-4, 6.64 ERA) to the mound in the finale. The right-hander was tagged for a career-high 10 runs on nine hits over four innings in his latest start, a 10-8 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.
Ashcraft has allowed at least seven runs in four of his past six starts. He has never faced the Dodgers.
Los Angeles will counter with Clayton Kershaw (7-4, 3.25 ERA). The veteran left-hander is tied for the NL lead with seven wins and is seventh in the league with 84 strikeouts.
Kershaw is 6-2 with a 2.25 ERA in 14 career starts against Cincinnati. In his latest start against the Reds, on June 23, 2022, he allowed just one run on seven hits over six innings during a 10-5 Dodgers win.
Roberts said on Wednesday that outfielder Trayce Thompson (left oblique strain) is expected to miss the next month. Thompson got hurt during a pinch-hitting appearance on Saturday and was placed on the injured list the next day.
Dodgers left-hander Julio Urias (left hamstring strain) threw a simulated game on Tuesday in Cincinnati. Roberts said Wednesday he is confident that Urias will be ready to be activated for the series finale against the Phillies on Sunday.
--Field Level Media