Bullpen saves Dodgers again down stretch against Mets

Bullpen saves Dodgers again down stretch against Mets
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Jeff McNeil walked back to the dugout and yelled. It was unclear what he said, but it was clear who his vitriol was directed at: plate umpire Nestor Ceja.

With two men on in the eighth inning, Walker Buehler had just struck out McNeil looking on a cutter that seemed to be inside. But minutes later, when Dave Roberts lifted Buehler from the game after allowing an infield RBI single to Pete Alonso, the Dodgers pitcher was the one yelling at Ceja — and getting ejected from the game.

After the fact, Buehler said he thought Alonso’s single hit his foot before going into play.

That left reliever Alex Vesia to face Michael Conforto with two on, two out and the Dodgers holding on to a one-run lead.

After a tense, 10-pitch at-bat, Conforto worked a walk to load the bases for J.D. Davis. And, with a crowd of 48,117 rising to their feet, Vesia struck out Davis looking, ending the best chance the Mets had of taking the lead in an eventual 3-2 Dodgers win — their eighth win in a row — on Friday night.

“Bases loaded, two outs, that’s pretty much all I was looking for,” Vesia said. “I would take anything I could get.”

Here are three observations from the game:

Another steady outing from Buehler

The Dodgers’ rotation has been in a state of disarray for a while.

Clayton Kershaw and Tony Gonsolin are on the injured list. Trevor Bauer remains on paid administrative leave. In the three slots that would have gone to them at the beginning of the season, Roberts used an opener each time this week.

The steady presence of Buehler, in that context, does even more than what shows up on a box score.

On Friday night, Buehler kept his consistency, going 72/3 innings and giving up two runs on six hits with eight strikeouts and no walks. For the 24th time in 25 starts this year, he threw six or more innings, and his ERA is 2.11, the best in baseball.

“Walker was great,” Roberts said. “Just command of everything. … That’s why he’s an ace.”

Besides a first-pitch slider that Alonso took deep to open the fourth, the Mets rarely threatened Buehler until the seventh, when they produced two singles and eventually scored a runner on an infield ground ball.

“I just think I’m not hunting the strikeout or the highlight throw or whatever,” Buehler said. “Just trying to get guys out and be efficient.”

Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler pitches against the New York Mets in the first inning at Dodger Stadium on Friday.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Turner sets table

Trea Turner wasted no time on Friday night, doubling to lead off the first.

Since he’s slotted into the leadoff hole for the Dodgers, that’s become commonplace.

After Friday night, he’d led off four of his last five games by getting on base. Against the Mets, it paid off, as two productive outs scored him, giving the Dodgers an early lead.

“It’s just that added layer of dynamic,” Roberts said.

Just two innings later, Turner got a chance to show off his baserunning chops.

After a one-out single, he scored standing up on a double from Max Muncy.

Corey Seager scored Muncy with a base hit later in the inning to make it 3-0.

Friday marked Turner’s fourth game with multiple hits in his last five.

He came into Friday leading the National League with a .320 batting average and slashing .304/.353/.413 since joining the Dodgers at the trade deadline.

Injury notes

It’s unclear as of now when Clayton Kershaw will take the next step in his rehab after playing catch in the outfield multiple times this week.

Roberts said pregame that Kershaw threw from 120 feet on Saturday, but a bullpen session, in which he would throw off a mound, has yet to be scheduled.

“I don’t know what the next progression is,” Roberts said. “Once he gets on the mound in that first bullpen back, I’ll be pretty excited. But I just don’t know the date yet.”

The Dodgers did get good news about their pitching staff, though, as Joe Kelly spent Friday at single-A Rancho Cucamonga on a rehabilitation assignment.

Kelly, who has been out since Aug. 10, threw 16 pitches, struck out one and walked two.

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