Freddie Freeman’s milestone home run not enough to bring Dodgers back

ST. LOUIS — The Dodgers’ pitching staff took a big hit with Dustin May’s injury on Wednesday. Thursday night, they gave up too many of them.

The St. Louis Cardinals teed off on the Dodgers, hitting seven home runs including four in the third inning off Julio Urias and beating the Dodgers, 16-8, in the opener of a four-game series Thursday night.

The Dodgers briefly made a game of it thanks to a historic home run of their own. Freddie Freeman became the 155th player in baseball history with 300 home runs, reaching the milestone in grand fashion – a bases-loaded drive over the wall in left-center field off Cardinals reliever Genesis Cabrera in the sixth inning.

Freeman is the second of those 155 to reach the milestone with a grand slam, joining Ruben Sierra who did it in 2004. And he is the fifth player to reach 300 career home runs while playing for the Dodgers. He joins Duke Snider (1957), Gil Hodges (1958), Gary Sheffield (2001) and Adrian Gonzalez (2016).

Worrisome for the Dodgers, Urias is putting up some eye-catching home run numbers of his own.

Thursday was the fifth time in his past seven starts that Urias has allowed multiple home runs. The Cardinals’ saturation bombing moved him into a tie (with Kansas City Royals right-hander Jordan Lyles) for the major-league lead with 14 homers allowed this season.

A two-run double by J.D. Martinez gave the Dodgers a first-inning lead but the Cardinals in the third inning.

After a leadoff single by Oscar Mercado and a one-out walk of Paul Goldschmidt, Willson Contreras crushed a first-pitch changeup from Urias, sending it 434 feet out to straightaway center field for a three-run home run.

Nolan Arenado popped out for the second out of the inning but Juan Yepez, Nolan Gorman and Paul DeJong hit back-to-back-to-back home runs in a span of 12 pitches.

The four homers in the inning – 1,596 feet worth of long balls – came on three different pitches. Contreras and Yepez hit changeups, Gorman a slurve and DeJong a fastball. But they all had one thing in common – they were all over the heart of the plate.

Urias was pulled after that inning, a season-low in innings and pitches (68) that left the Dodgers’ bullpen to answer another early wakeup call. Dodgers starting pitchers combined for only nine innings in the three-game series with the Minnesota Twins this week while the relievers pitched 21.

Phil Bickford was first up and he gave up three more runs including two on a home run by Arenado that made it 9-3 in the fourth inning. And Dodgers manager Dave Roberts took Mookie Betts out of the game.

An error by Paul Goldschmidt extended the sixth inning long enough for Freeman’s grand slam and a leadoff home run by Max Muncy in the seventh made it a one-run game.

Singles by Miguel Vargas and James Outman in the seventh put the go-ahead runs on base with one out but stranded them. And the Cardinals had one more explosion in them.

Fresh up from Triple-A, Andre Jackson held the Cardinals scoreless over three innings. But Roberts sent him back out for another. The Cardinals put the game away with seven runs in the eighth off Jackson and Yency Almonte. Almonte gave up Contreras’ second three-run home run of the game and Gorman’s second homer of the night.

More to come on this story.

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