Chisenhall’s pinch-homer keys victory
CLEVELAND — Lonnie Chisenhall usually senses when Indians manager Terry Francona is going to call on him as a pinch-hitter.
That moment came earlier than normal for Chisenhall on Thursday, and he was ready.
Chisenhall connected for a three-run, pinch-hit homer in the fifth inning and had five RBIs as Cleveland salvaged the finale of a three-game series by beating Los Angeles 12-5 and stopping the Dodgers’ six-game winning streak.
After the Dodgers closed to 5-4 in the fifth, Chisenhall hit a 415-foot drive on the second pitch from Ross Stripling to open a four-run lead for Josh Tomlin (4-8), who struggled after being staked to a 5-0 lead.
Chisenhall added a two-run single in the sixth, making him just the third Cleveland player since 1913 to come off the bench and record five RBIs or more.
“Tito finds those good situations for guys and you try to not read his mind,” Chisenhall said of Francona. “But I’ve done it for long enough that we’re kind of on the same page.”
Francona joked that he probably should have started Chisenhall, “but I’m not very smart.” He and bench coach Brad Mills debated whether to have Austin Jackson bunt or bring up Chisenhall, a left-hander, to face Stripling.
“You want to tack on, but then we’re bunting for the bottom of the order,” Francona said. “Millsy kind of pushed me in that direction. Boy, Lonnie took a beautiful swing.”
Edwin Encarnacion homered off Rich Hill (3-3), reached base five times and scored four runs as Cleveland moved back over .500 with just its second win in 11 interleague games.
Rookie Cody Bellinger homered again for the Dodgers. He touched up Tomlin for a line-drive homer in the fourth, his 18th home run in 47 games. Only New York Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez hit more through 47 games, slugging 19.
“I don’t know what else there is to say,” Dodgers manager Dave Robert said of his 21-year-old first baseman. “I’ve tried to use all the ways to describe him. The home runs and the production are just a by-product of his care in wanting to be a great baseball player and helping us to win games.”
Tomlin got help from Cleveland’s offense and did just enough to cool off the Dodgers, who were in a five-run hole after two innings but closed within a run in the fifth on Yasiel Puig’s RBI double and Chris Taylor’s two-run homer.
Hill, who was facing the Indians for the first time since leaving as a free after the 2013 season, walked Encarnacion opening the fifth and was pulled for Stripling after Carlos Santana singled.
Chisenhall took one pitch before sending his eighth homer, and second as a pinch-hitter, into the seats in right to make it 8-4.
“It’s an adrenaline rush going up there, especially it’s always a crunch-time situation,” Chisenhall said, “so you want to go up there and make sure you’re taking hacks that are going to help the team.”
The Indians added three runs with two outs in the sixth on Chisenhall’s single and Roberto Perez’s broken-bat blooper.
Tomlin is impressed with Chisenhall’s ability to come off the bench and deliver.
“He’s an intelligent player,” Tomlin said. “He’s been around for a little while. He pays attention to the game and he knows when his number is going to be called, they do a good job of letting him know. He’s a good player, that’s what good players do.”
Encarnacion, who struggled in April and May, capped a two-run second with a homer onto the pedestrian plaza in left. He’s batting .341 with eight homers and 16 RBIs in his last 24 games.
“He’s starting to look a lot like himself,” Francona said. “He’s taking a lot of good swings. It’s nice to get him going.”
Francona didn’t have second baseman Jason Kipnis (stiff neck) or Michael Brantley, who was with his wife, Melissa, as the couple is expecting its fourth child. Francona said Brantley will go on the paternity list and the Indians will make other roster moves this weekend, when they play a double-header in Minnesota.
Roberts said right-hander Kenta Maeda will start Sunday in Cincinnati, bumping back Clayton Kershaw to pitch Monday against the New York Mets.
Dodgers: 1B Adrian Gonzalez received a second opinion on his back injury, which confirmed he has a herniated disc. He’ll likely receive an epidural. LHP Julio Urias (shoulder inflammation) has been shut down indefinitely. The 20-year-old phenom is on the disabled list at Triple-A Oklahoma City after being up with the Dodgers earlier.
Dodgers: Stay in Ohio and open a three-game series in Cincinnati with Alex Wood (6-0) starting for the second time against the Reds since June 10.
Indians: Carlos Carrasco starts the opener of a four-game series at first-place Minnesota. The right-hander is 4-1 with a 3.13 ERA in six road outings this season.