PHOENIX – Mookie Betts looked right back at home playing his original position on Sunday.
Betts hit a homer in his first game back from the injured list and made a stellar defensive play at second base to help the Los Angeles Dodgers ease past the Arizona Diamondbacks 13-0 to win two of three in the series.
“It was a lot of fun going back to my roots,” said Betts, who usually plays in the outfield. “It was good easing myself back into play.”
With a sore left hip, manager Dave Roberts and Betts thought it wise to let him play second — the position he played when he came up with Boston in 2014 — to reduce the strain.
His hip didn't seem to be a problem. In the first inning, he took a hit away from Arizona’s Drew Ellis. Playing on the shortstop side of the bag in the shift, Betts went back for a popup like a wide receiver hauling in a pass over his shoulder.
“That catch changed the landscape of the game,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers then scored five runs in the second, chasing Caleb Smith after Albert Pujols’ bases-clearing double capped the scoring in the inning.
Betts later turned a double play when playing behind second, running to the base and firing to first to complete it. He’s likely to return to right field on Tuesday when the Dodgers host their 2017 World Series nemesis, the Houston Astros.
Trea Turner, acquired from Washington last week, is expected to play second and Max Scherzer is scheduled to start Wednesday in the second of the two-game set. Scherzer joined the team in Arizona on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a fun homestand,” Roberts said.
The Dodgers also play the crosstown rival Los Angeles Angels at Dodger Stadium later this week.
Justin Turner hit his 20th homer with a three-run shot in the seventh and Betts connected off catcher Bryan Holaday, pitching the ninth, for his 15th. Betts was 2 for 5 with a walk and two runs scored.
One run would have been enough for the Dodgers. Julio Urias (13-3) pitched five scoreless innings and three relievers gave up no hits over the last four, capping the four-hit shutout.
A.J. Pollock peppered his former team with four hits, extending his hitting streak to 11 games.
“He's carrying us right now,” Roberts said of the outfielder, who is batting .526 against Arizona this season over nine games.
Smith (3-8) struggled to find the strike zone for the Diamondbacks, walking five in 1 2/3 innings and throwing 70 pitches. The last pitch was Pujols' three-run double on a full count. He walked Chris Taylor with the bases loaded to force in the first run.
“I hate walking guys. I’m not going to be able to sleep tonight,” Smith said. “Walks have killed me. I’ve gotta figure it out.”
Manager Torey Lovullo stuck with his starter because he got two outs after loading the bases before walking Taylor, giving up an infield hit to Turner and finally Pujols' big hit.
“You want to give your starting pitcher a chance to work through those early-inning problems," Lovullo said. “We needed Caleb to give us 4 or 5 innings. We were trying to get him through. ”
Urias finished at 83 pitches, walking none and striking out seven while limiting Arizona to four singles.
To make room for Betts, the Dodgers optioned utility man Zach McKinstry to Triple-A Oklahoma City. Los Angeles also selected the contract of RHP Yefry Ramirez from Oklahoma City and sent RHP Mitch White, Saturday night’s starter, back to the Triple-A team.
Ramirez, who pitched the final two innings on Sunday, last pitched in the majors with Pittsburgh in 2019.
Diamondbacks outfielder Ketel Marte made his first start since June 26 and picked up Arizona’s first hit with a line single to center in the first inning. Lovullo said Marte, who usually moves between the outfield and second base, will initially play mostly center field. Marte was sidelined with a hamstring injury and is batting .367 in limited action this season.
Lovullo said he had no updates on the Diamondbacks who are in the COVID-19 protocol. Five players — 1B Pavin Smith, OF Stuart Fairchild, LHP Joe Mantiply and RHPs Riley Smith and Noe Ramirez — were placed on the injured list last week.
The Dodgers are off Monday before returning home to play the Astros. All-Star RHP Walker Buehler (11-1, 2.19) starts for Los Angeles in Tuesday's opener.
The D-backs begin a four-game series against the Giants Monday night. RHP Taylor Widener (1-1, 4.42) pitches for Arizona.
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