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Dodgers look to take momentum of Bellinger's double to Game 3


SAN FRANCISCO -- Dave Roberts had a lot to be happy about following the Los Angeles Dodgers' 9-2 win over the Giants in Game 2 of the National League Division Series, evening things up at one game apiece on Saturday night. 

When asked about Cody Bellinger's two-run double in the top of the sixth inning, Roberts didn't waste any time smiling while talking about his struggling star. 

"I think there was a big weight lifted off his shoulders," Roberts said. 

Bellinger's double gave the Dodgers a 4-1 lead, injecting as much life in LA as it had in this young series. Prior to his clutch line drive to left-center field, Bellinger had been historically bad against the Giants this season. Following a 2-for-48 showing against San Francisco with 21 strikeouts in the regular season, Bellinger started the NLDS 0-for-5 with four strikeouts. 

His .038 batting average against the Giants this year before his double was the lowest ever by a player against one team with at least 50 at-bats in a single season, since 1903. 

The 2019 NL MVP's struggles have been well documented over the past two seasons. But his last multi-RBI double actually came before he even took home the hardware. 

"It felt good," Bellinger said of his double. "[Chris Taylor] really set the table in front of me with a really, really good at-bat to really simplify my plan and just try to get the run in right there." 

Giants starter Kevin Gausman allowed a double down the left-field line to Trea Turner to start the top of the sixth inning. He struck out Justin Turner next but walked Will Smith on five pitches and was then replaced by reliever Dominic Leone. 

Throughout the regular season, Leone was one of the Giants' most reliable relievers. Manager Gabe Kapler could turn to the right-hander at any moment, expecting the veteran to stop any momentum the opposing offense might be building. But entering the game, Leone walked Taylor on six pitches and Bellinger jumped all over the first pitch he saw from Leone -- a 95 mph fastball down the middle. 

Leone said he looked to be aggressive in the zone, just as he has all season long. The Dodgers had a clear plan against him and the rest of the Giants' bullpen, hitting two first-pitch doubles off him as well as a first-pitch double off Jarlin Garcia and a first-pitch home run against Zack Littell. 

"They're talented hitters over there and they watch video and scout as well," Leone said. "He got a pitch that was out over the plate and he put a good swing on it. It doesn't matter if he was struggling all year at the plate. He's a good hitter and he's there for a reason.

"He did what he had to do and now we have to make adjustments, come back and get ready for Monday."

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Hours before the Dodgers' Game 2 win, nine of the 15 questions that Bellinger was asked were either about his struggles at the plate or his health with his right shoulder, which he underwent surgery on in November of last year. He finished the night 1-for-4, striking out in all three of his other at-bats. 

Every swing, every base and every run is magnified once the playoffs begin. Whether it's a blip in this series or something big for Bellinger, his manager is happy the monkey was off his back for at least one at-bat. 

"He's wanted to use the big part of the field and for him to get rewarded, it was a huge hit," Roberts said. "... That was a big couple runs and so hopefully, like our entire offense, we can take that momentum and take it to Game 3."

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