SEATTLE — When the postseason rolls around, the Los Angeles Dodgers know they’ll need more than just Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman carrying the load at the top of the lineup.
Which is why a night where the likes of J.D. Martinez and Miguel Rojas carry the offense is important this late in the season.
“You got the two horses up front with Freddie and (Mookie) and you got to be able to have your three, four or five hitters protect those guys,” Martinez said. “Tonight was one of those things where Freddie and Mookie didn’t have to carry the load for once and we were able to get the job done.”
Rojas and James Outman homered, Martinez had two key run-scoring singles and the Dodgers moved closer to the NL West title with a 6-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
Los Angeles can wrap up the NL West for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons Saturday with a win over Seattle or help elsewhere. San Francisco plays a doubleheader in Colorado, and Arizona hosts the Cubs and a number of scenarios could leave the Dodgers celebrating by the time Saturday night ends.
Rojas hit a two-run homer off Seattle starter George Kirby to give Los Angeles the lead in the fifth inning. Max Muncy added an RBI triple, and Martinez had RBI singles in the sixth and eighth innings.
Outman hit his 20th homer of the season in the ninth inning.
“It’s hard to simulate a playoff (game) but this environment tonight was pretty close,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.
Seattle failed to gain ground on Houston and Texas in the AL West after both teams lost. The Mariners remained 1 1/2 games behind the Astros and a game behind the Rangers.
Los Angeles starter Bobby Miller pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and struck out seven on the day Roberts said Miller (10-3) would likely be one of the Dodgers’ first two starting pitchers when the postseason begins.
This start had a playoff feel.
“I love that kind of energy out there. Got the blood flowing a little bit,” Miller said. “I’m all for that kind of stuff. I feel like I stayed really calm out there when it got super loud. I like those moments a lot.”
Miller allowed a solo home run to Eugenio Suárez and an RBI single to Teoscar Hernández in the sixth inning when Seattle pulled to 4-3. Hernández extended his on-base streak to 29 games, the longest active streak in the majors.
But the Mariners stranded runners in scoring position in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings as relievers Caleb Ferguson, Brusdar Graterol and Ryan Braiser got key outs to escape jams.
Evan Phillips allowed two hits in the ninth, but struck out Hernández to end it for his 23rd save.
“They got two-out RBI singles … and we struggled to knock guys in,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.
Kirby (10-10) pitched for the first time since his start last week in Tampa Bay after which he said he wished to have not been sent out for the seventh inning of his start at 90 pitches — comments he apologized for a day later.
Kirby cruised into the fifth inning against the Dodgers before finding trouble.
Rojas was able to get his barrel to a 96 mph fastball above the strike zone and tailing toward him. The line drive had just enough height to clear the fence and land in the Dodgers bullpen.
An inning later, Will Smith was hit by a pitch with one out and scored from first on Muncy’s first triple of the season. Martinez followed with a single and the Dodgers had a 4-1 lead.
Kirby allowed five hits and four runs in six innings. He struck out seven and threw 81 pitches.
“This game’s testing me right now. I’m making good pitches. Just a lot of better swings. Just how it happens sometimes,” Kirby said.
Dodgers: OF David Peralta was scratched from the lineup due to lower back tightness. … RHP Michael Grove (lat strain) could rejoin the Dodgers during their next homestand, Roberts said. Grove has not pitched for the Dodgers since Aug. 5.
Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales said surgery to repair a nerve issue in his left arm went well and he hopes to start a throwing program sometime in November. Gonzales, Seattle’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, pitched in only 10 games this season, the last coming in late May.
Dodgers: LHP Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 2.61) will start for the first time in 11 days. Kershaw gave up three runs on five hits in five innings in a loss to the Marlins on Sept. 5. Since returning from the injured list in early August, Kershaw has not pitched more than five innings in any of his five starts.
Mariners: RHP Bryce Miller (8-5, 4.05) has just one victory in his last five starts. He was knocked around for five earned runs and nine hits over five innings in his last start against Tampa Bay.
AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb