Betts Hits Leadoff Homer, Hernández Adds a Pair to Help Dodgers Beat Cardinals

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts celebrates his home run during the first inning of a game against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mookie Betts set a Dodgers record for leadoff home runs and Teoscar Hernández added his first two long balls for Los Angeles in a 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday night.

Betts hit his 29th leadoff homer for the Dodgers on the first pitch from Zack Thompson (0-1).

Bobby Miller (1-0) struck out a career-high 11, allowing two hits and a walk in six innings, and Evan Phillips pitched a perfect ninth for his second save.

“I think that even a calendar year ago, (Miller) wasn’t able to command the fastball like he was,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “You know 100 [mph] is still 100, but if it’s over the middle of the plate, these guys can hit it. Now the command is there like a polished seasoned veteran.”

Betts, in his fifth season with the Dodgers after a trade from the Boston Red Sox, broke a tie for leadoff homers with Davey Lopes, who played for Los Angeles from 1972-81.

Betts moved into sole possession of fifth place on the major leagues’ leadoff home run list with his 49th, breaking a tie with Ian Kinsler. Betts trails Rickey Henderson (81), George Springer (57), Alfonso Soriano (54) and Craig Biggio (53).

Betts’ home run to left was nearly identical to the one he hit Thursday in the Dodgers’ home opener. He has home runs in three consecutive games. A seven-time All-Star and the 2018 AL MVP, Betts has 255 home runs in 11 seasons, hitting a career-high 39 last year.

Hernández, who signed a $23.5 million contract, hit a solo homer in the second over the bullpen gate to the opposite field in right, then hit a three-run drive in the fourth that bounced off the top of the left-center field wall and into the stands for a 5-0 lead.

Shohei Ohtani prepares for his at-bat during the first inning.

“When you’ve got a good lineup it’s always fun,” Hernandez said about anchoring the bottom half of the order, with Betts, Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman at the top. “But it’s not about the lineup. It’s about the team and the whole team is good. That’s the thing that we’ve showed, that we’re going to do this year.”

Miguel Rojas added his first home run of the season in the seventh off Giovanny Gallegos. Rojas didn’t hit his first last season until Aug. 2.

Thompson (0-1) gave up five runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings as the Cardinals dropped to 0-2. Nolan Gorman had a two-run double in a three-run eighth.

Despite his final pitching line, Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol liked what he saw from Thompson, against the loaded Dodgers’ lineup.

“He made a couple of pitches that they got a hold of, but other than that, he got ahead of guys, he got into his secondary stuff, his slider was in the zone, mixing in some changeups and curveballs,” Marmol said. “He kept his composure even when things didn’t go his way and I though he did a really nice job. I like where’s at.”