Shohei Ohtani Hits 21st Homer, Smith and Freeman Also Go Deep in Dodgers’ 5-3 Victory over Rockies

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani heads up the first-base line after drawing a walk from Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Ty Blach in the second inning of baseball game, Thursday, June 20, in Denver.

DENVER (AP) — Shohei Ohtani led off the game with his 21st homer of the season, Will Smith and Freddie Freeman hit back-to-back homers in the fourth inning and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 5-3 on Thursday.

Ohtani’s homer was his fourth in five games and Smith and Freeman each hit their 11th for a 5-0 lead off Ty Blach (3-5) to help the Dodgers take three of four from the Rockies.

“To jump on those guys early was big,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Ohtani is 8 for 18 with two homers, three doubles and six RBIs in four games as the leadoff hitter, moving up a spot in the order after Mookie Betts broke his left hand when he was hit by a pitch Sunday.

“He’s great everywhere he’s going to hit,” Freeman said. “It doesn’t matter where that guy hits, he’s going to hit.”

Jake Cave had a two-run single when Colorado closed within 5-2 in the sixth. Ryan McMahon hit a 462-foot homer off Alex Vesia to lead off the eighth.

Evan Phillips pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 12th save in as many chances, sending the Rockies to their fourth loss in five games.

Gavin Stone (8-2) gave up two runs and four hits, all singles, in 5 1/3 innings. He tied a season high with seven strikeouts, all swinging, walked two and hit a batter.

“He’s been nothing but phenomenal for us.” Roberts said. “The way he has evolved. For any starting pitcher, you just kind of evaluate do they have the weapons to get left out, to get right out, to be efficient, to command the baseball. Can you navigate three times through the lineup? He’s checked all those boxes for me. He’s only getting better.”

Stone recorded three strikeouts with his mid-90s fastball and two apiece with a curveball and a changeup. He is 7-1 with a 2.18 ERA in 10 starts since April 26.

Stone, who made his first Coors Field start, credited Smith for his game behind the plate.

“I feel like you just have to throw your normal stuff and just put it in good spots,” Stone said. “It was a good day overall.”

Teoscar Hernández had three hits and scored a run, Freeman had two hits and Chris Taylor had two hits and two stolen bases. Freeman took some time at first base after reaching on an infield single in the ninth but remained in the game after a visit from manager David Roberts and a member of the training staff.

“That was just the ground moving on me,” Freeman said with a smile. “I gave everything I had in my oxygen tank to beat that ball out. Four games in Denver, a couple of hot ones, I’m OK. Four days in Colorado is a lot.”

Enrique Hernandez handed Freeman an oxygen mask in the clubhouse after the game ended.

McMahon and Cave each had two of the Rockies’ six hits.

Ohtani’s homer to center field just got over the fence and the outstretched glove of Brenton Doyle, who collided with the fence at the 415-foot sign.