By HAL McCOY
With Dodger Stadium just a few hills away from Hollywood, the script for the Cincinnati Reds was perfect. . .for 8 1/2 innings.
Unfortunately, it was an Alfred Hitchcock ending for the Reds on Jackie Robinson Night.
LA’s Joc Pederson spoiled it all.
The Reds, the only team in baseball who had not scored a single run in the ninth inning, scored a run in the top of the ninth to take a one-run lead.
All closer Raisel Iglesias needed was three outs. He didn’t get any. He walked pinch-hitter David Freese to open the inning and Pederson hit one into the right field pavilion, a two-run walk-off 4-3 victory for the Dodgers.
Reds manager David Bell unveiled a strange lineup and batting order, loading his lineup with right handed batters to face left hander Clayton Kershaw. He had catcher Curt Casali batting leadoff, the first Cincinnati catcher to bat leadoff since 1900.
And he had five former Dodgers in his lineup — Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler and Kyle Farmer.
Kershaw came off the injured list to make his first start of the season and all he did was hurt the Reds.
He pitched seven innings and gave up two runs, five hits, walked nobody and struck out six during an economic 84-pitch night.
The drama surfaced early. Kershaw gave up a one-out single in the first inning to Eugenio Suarez. That brought up Puig, who received a loud, supportive greeting from most of the 52,974 in Chavez Ravine. Puig stepped out of the box and doffed his batting helmet. Then he launched one to Van Nuys, a two-run 405-foot home run for a 2-0 lead.
“That shocked the fans but it didn’t shock us because that’s what he does,” said Matt Kemp in a post-game interview with the media.
Luis Castillo started for the Reds and wasn’t sharp. He walked Pederson to open the bottom of the first and he scored on Cody Bellinger’s double.
After Puig’s home run, Kershaw muzzled the Reds and the Dodgers tied it, 2-2, in the fifth when Castillo walked A.J. Pollock with the bases loaded.
Castillo had command problems all night but held the Dodgers to two runs on four hits and five walks over five innings.
“I wasn’t sharp, but I kept battling to keep my team in the game,” Castillo told the media after the game.
Robert Stephenson, the last pitcher to make the team out of spring training, continued his marvelous turnaround this season by pitching two perfect mid-game innings to hold the score at 2-2.
Dodger closer Kenley Jansen came on in the ninth and that leadoff/catcher Curt Casali greeted him with a double off the right center wall, the first runner in scoring position for the Reds the entire game.
After Suarez struck out, Puig flied to right field, , moving Casali to third with two outs. Then another ex-Dodger struck. Matt Kemp pushed a 0-and-2 pitch into right field to score Casali for a 3-2 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth.
Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, who hasn’t been sharp this season, walked David Freese on five pitches and was visibly upset.
Perhaps still seething, he hung his second pitch to Pederson and in a flash the game was over.
Casillo was involved in a couple of other incidents. In the third inning, batting leadoff, he blooped a ball into shallow right field. But he shattered his bat and didn’t know where the ball went. As he stared at his broken bat, right fielder Cody Bellinger threw him out at first base.
In the bottom of the third, Castillo hit Bellinger with a pitch on the leg, knocking him out of the game.
The Dodgers wore replica caps that were worn by the 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers, the year Jackie Robinson arrived in the majors, breaking the color barrier and every team in the majors wore Robinson’s No. 42 with no names on their backs.