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Dodgers return to form, beat Tigers to begin homestand

LOS ANGELES ― The Dodgers played down to the level of their last opponent on their most recent road trip. They had a chance to do so again on Friday night, when the Detroit Tigers visited Dodger Stadium to begin a five-game homestand.

Instead, they turned back into the Dodgers – a team that could, hit, run, field, and guarantee championships on the strength of a near-$300 million payroll. They seized an early lead en route to a 5-1 victory, halting a two-game losing streak before an announced crowd of 49,394.

Tyler Anderson (2-0) cruised through five innings to win his first game since replacing injured left-hander Andrew Heaney in the starting rotation. Chris Taylor hit his first home run of the season, a 441-foot rocket to left-center field against Tigers starter Tyler Alexander (0-3). Justin Turner also hit his first homer of 2022 for the Dodgers (13-6).

“I don’t know how much emotion plays into an outcome,” Manager Dave Roberts said, “but I think guys were a little upset after losing a series on the road, to get a day off, and stew on it.”

The Dodgers’ defense was a comedy of errors while losing two of three games to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Friday, they turned two double plays and benefitted from two stellar catches by center fielder Cody Bellinger – one coming in on a ball, one going back.

The game ended when second baseman Gavin Lux, whose shaky glovework thwarted a few routine outs against the Diamondbacks, stopped a grounder in shallow right field and threw out Austin Meadows in one motion.

Anderson allowed five hits, walked one batter and struck out three. His fastball command improved greatly over his first start of the season, six days earlier in San Diego, and helped him set up a changeup that got several swings and misses on pitches out of the zone. The veteran left-hander has a 2.55 ERA after his first four appearances.

With Heaney potentially sidelined long-term with shoulder inflammation, Anderson could get a longer runway to succeed as a member of the rotation.

“I came into this with the mindset that I’m going to do whatever’s asked of me,” said Anderson, who signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Dodgers in March. “If it means starting more, I’ll do that. If I have to come out of the ’pen and piggyback or throw long, whatever. I just want to throw meaningful innings to help us win.”

Roberts said he removed Anderson after a mere 69 pitches in part because the southpaw was having trouble commanding his changeup. Anderson said he is still seeking consistency with his new grip on the pitch, which is actually an old grip that he recommitted to this season.

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