ST. LOUIS (AP) — With every ball that sails over the fence, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts gets a little more encouraged that his lineup is finding its groove.
Not that the rookie leading the charge seems to be feeling any pressure.
Cody Bellinger, Chase Utley and Logan Forsythe hit solo home runs, leading Rich Hill and the Dodgers over the St. Louis Cardinals 5-1 Monday for their fifth straight victory.
“We’re starting to hit the ball out of the ballpark,” Roberts said. “To see Logan get a homer, obviously Cody’s been doing it. Chase (Utley has had) really quality at-bats and starting to hit the ball out of the ballpark, but I think if you look at our lineup, there’s guys that are really grinding that aren’t swinging the way we’re capable of.”
Los Angeles is within a half-game of the Colorado Rockies for the NL West lead, and they’ve powered nearer to the top of the standings behind Bellinger’s early contributions.
Bellinger connected in the fourth — it was his ninth home run in May, tying Joc Pederson and James Loney for the Dodgers rookie record for home runs in a month. Bellinger leads the team with 11 home runs and 29 RBIs, thriving in his first exposure in the major leagues.
“I just try to be consistent every day,” Bellinger said. “Sometimes in the outfield I kind of just look around, but, yeah, it’s real, and I just try to keep going.”
Hill (2-2) recovered from a bout of wildness in his last start to pitch five innings, giving up one run and two hits. In his previous outing, also against the Cardinals, he permitted five runs on four hits and seven walks in four innings.
Hill held the Cardinals hitless until Aledmys Diaz singled to lead off the fifth.
“We made some adjustments this week, mechanical adjustments, and proved to be successful and feel much more comfortable where I’m at now,” Hill said. “Getting my hand out of my glove, getting timing down, and all that stuff was huge.”
Mike Leake (5-3) entered the game leading the majors with a 1.91 ERA, but allowed a season-high four runs in 6 2/3 innings.
“He’s been terrific. Seven innings and six hits, he gives us a chance there,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. “We just couldn’t get anything going offensively. Those are the days we need to offensively pick him up because he’s been so shutdown.”
Los Angeles got all the offense it needed in the third as Utley opened with his third home run of the season and second against St. Louis. Corey Seager later drove in Yasiel Puig with a two-out single.
Puig’s sacrifice fly in the seventh snapped Leake’s streak of nine quality starts to open the season.
Paul DeJong got two hits in his first career major league start after making his debut Sunday for the Cardinals.
Brandon Morrow pitched a scoreless bottom of the ninth in his season debut for the Dodgers after having his contract purchased from Triple-A Oklahoma City.
The Cardinals optioned OF Randal Grichuk to High-A Palm Beach before the game. He was batting .222 with four home runs and 19 RBIs, and had just five hits in 37 at bats with 14 strikeouts in his last 11 games. He hit 24 homers for St. Louis last year. The Cardinals want him to work on his plate approach at a lower level, rather than at Triple-A.
Dodgers: LHP Alex Wood was put on the 10-day disabled list retroactive to May 27 with inflammation in a joint in his upper body.
Cardinals: LHP Zach Duke threw a side session in extended spring training as he continues to recover from elbow surgery in October. … OF Jose Martinez was activated from the disabled list prior to the game after missing 18 games with a left groin strain sustained on May 6 at Atlanta.
Dodgers: RHP Kenta Maeda (4-2, 5.08 ERA) is scheduled to face the Cardinals for his second straight start. He is 2-0 with a 4.22 ERA in two career starts versus St. Louis.
Cardinals: RHP Michael Wacha (2-2, 3.66 ERA) is 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA in five starts at home this season.