Will Smith’s 1st career HR lifts Dodgers over Phillies 4-3
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Will Smith is making himself at home during his first week in the major leagues.
The red-headed rookie — called up when catcher Austin Barnes got hurt — hit a towering, tiebreaking home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, giving the Los Angeles Dodgers a 4-3 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Saturday night.
“That was awesome,” Smith said. “I’ll remember that forever.”
The unflappable Smith caught ace Clayton Kershaw for seven innings and then smashed his first career homer into the left field pavilion off Hèctor Neris (1-2).
“A lot of tough pitches and Will stuck with it,” third baseman Max Muncy said. “I still don’t know if he knows he hit a home run.”
Smith got doused by his teammates on the field and he got the ball, too. The man who nabbed it turned it over to Smith outside the Dodgers clubhouse and they posed for a photo together.
It was a fitting finish for the catcher whose walk-up music is the theme from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” the hit 1990s sitcom in which the main character played by the actor Will Smith moves from Philly to the ritzy enclave in Los Angeles.
“A lot of fun to see Will do that at the end,” Kershaw said. “Will just oozes professionalism. It just seems like he’s been here a long time.”
Actually, Smith arrived last Monday when Barnes went on the 10-day injured list with a left groin strain. He’s certainly making a strong case for himself even though his stay in the big leagues could be short.
“I’m just coming every day and giving my best effort,” Smith said. “The rest will take care of itself.”
He earned a ringing endorsement from Kershaw, who said, “A lot of talent and there’s a lot of potential there for sure.”
Julio Urias (3-2) got the victory with two innings of relief after giving up a two-run homer to Bryce Harper in the eighth that tied it at 3-all in a matchup of division leaders and the two best teams in the National League.
The Dodgers have won 14 of 17; the Phillies lost their third in a row.
“This is a really disappointing loss,” Phillies manager Gabe Kapler said. “Neris has been a stud and Smith put a good swing on a split at the bottom of the zone and that happens sometimes.”
David Freese homered into the left-field pavilion on the first pitch from Cole Irvin leading off the fifth, putting the Dodgers in front 2-1.
Philadelphia tied the game at 1 in the fourth on J.T. Realmuto’s RBI single.
Harper, who was 0 for 4 in Friday’s opener, singled, took second on a wild pitch by Clayton Kershaw and moved to third on an error by Muncy. Rhys Hoskins was safe at first on the error to set up Realmuto.
The Dodgers added a run in the bottom of the inning on Muncy’s sacrifice fly that scored pinch-hitter Matt Beaty, who reached on an infield single to first base.
Kershaw allowed one run and six hits, struck out six and walked none.
Josè Àlvarez started for the Phillies in place of Zach Eflin, who went on the IL Friday with mid-back tightness. Àlvarez gave up one hit and two walks in two innings.
Phillies: RHP Tommy Hunter (right forearm strain) threw a bullpen Friday and will toss another one before his rehab schedule is decided. ... OF Roman Quinn (right groin strain) had five at-bats in extended spring training and came out of it well.
Dodgers: 3B Justin Turner (hamstring tightness) was out of the lineup for a third straight game.
Manager Dave Roberts lined into a double play and made a nice play in the outfield in a losing effort in the Dodgers’ annual Alumni Game. His team, captained by Nomar Garciaparra, lost 8-1 to a squad headed by Jerry Hairston Jr. in the two-inning affair.
Orel Hershiser started for the losing team, while Kevin Gross took the mound for the winners.
Among those suiting up were Steve Sax, Shawn Green, James Loney, Mike Marshall, Lee Lacy, Scott Van Slyke and Josè Vizcaìno.
The star power not playing was even bigger: Ron Cey, Tommy Davis, Steve Garvey, Rick Monday, Manny Mota, Fernando Valenzuela, Maury Wills and 91-year-old Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda.
Loney hit a grand slam to key the victory and also pitched to a few batters.
Garvey was inducted into the Legends of Dodger Baseball before the game on his bobblehead night.
Vin Scully appeared in a video message and late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel spoke during the ceremony.
Garvey’s children threw ceremonial first pitches.
Phillies: RHP Nick Pivetta (3-1, 7.71 ERA) makes his second start in his return to the rotation.
Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (1-1, 2.73) is coming off a season-high 104 pitches Tuesday against the Mets. His ERA in his last three starts is 1.50.