Olympics: Simone Biles captures historic 7th medal in her return

TOKYO >> They stood on the edge of the competition area at the Ariake Gymnastics Center early Tuesday evening, Simone Biles and her coach Cecile Landi, awaiting the scores of the previous gymnast in the Olympic Games balance beam competition to be posted.

Landi put her right around Biles and tried to lighten the moment.

And then Biles was alone, turning to face the beam and a moment the world had waited a week for.

Biles took a deep breath.

She wasn’t alone.

Biles, seven days after she stunned these Olympics by withdrawing in the middle of the team finals, returned to the Games she has been the face of earning a bronze medal on the beam with a solid, if safe, routine.

It was the Hollywood ending her millions of fans –or NBC–might have wanted, but if nothing else Biles has reminded us this past week that life is complicated.

China’s Guan Chenchen, competing last, won the gold medal with a 14.633 score followed by teammate Tang Xijing (14.233) and Biles (14.00).

It was Biles sixth Olympic medal but her presence in Tokyo will be best remembered for her withdrawal from the team final, individual all around, and earlier apparatus finals forcing her country and her sport to have real discussions, often heated, about mental health, especially in regards to young athletes.

“It’s great that she is speaking out about these issues,” said Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis, the world record holder in the pole vault. “It can be tough as an athlete and it’s good that the issues are being raised now.”

And elevating that discussion as she has her sport will be as much of legacy as her four Olympic and 19 World Championship titles.

“I think just recognizing that it’s so hard and the mental aspect is such a big thing and having the confidence to draw the line and say you know I need to step back here and take some time for myself to center myself,” U.S. beach volleyball player April Ross said. “I think that’s really empowering and that’s something that youths should feel like they can do too, so I think what she did will really impact the future generation.”

Biles withdrawal came with the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal still looming over the sport and the Olympic movement.

Biles is a Nassar survivor and has been the highest profile and one of the most vocal critics of USA Gymnastics and its prioritize athlete safety over medals and corporate sponsorships and to fix the culture of abuse within the sport that enabled Nassar, the former Olympic and national team doctor to sexually abuse more than 500 women under the guise of medical treatment.

Biles was not only the ultimate champion in the #MeToo era, with Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt and American swimmer Michael Phelps retiring after the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro she was the face of the Olympic Games.

“I live in the United States and anything that came on the TV, NBC or commercials about the Olympics it was Simone Biles,” golfer Rory McIlroy said. “I mean it was the Simone Biles Olympics, right. To have the weight of what 300 whatever million (people in the USA). So, the weight on her shoulders is massive.”

In the days and weeks leading up to Tokyo that weight became overwhelming, Biles said.

“In the back gym, coming in today, it was like fighting all those demons, ‘I have to put my pride aside, I have to do it for the team,’” Biles said on the night of her withdrawal from the team competition, referring to the Olympic practice gym. “At the end of the day, I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health, and not jeopardize my health and well-being. …

“I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to. I don’t know if it’s age. I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I’m also not having as much fun, and I know that this Olympic Games,” she continued starting to weep, “I wanted it to be for myself.

“I was still doing it for other people, so it hurts my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people.”

The stress contributed to Biles developing spatial awareness issues when she was airborne, what gymnasts refer to as the “twisties.”

“If you struggle with disorientation in the air,” Italian gymnast Vanessa Ferrari said “it can be very scary. I feel very sorry for her that she struggles with it, as she is such a great gymnast.”

Biles had planned to do a Yurcenko 2½ vault on the opening rotation of team competition final. But only managed 1½ rotations before stumbling on the landing. She received a 13.766 score, well before her usual marks in an event in which she was the reigning the Olympic champion and a two-time World Championships gold medalist.

“I did not choose to do a one-and-a-half,” Biles said laughing. “I tried to do a two-and-a-half, and that just was not clicking. It’s very uncharacteristic of me, and it just sucks that it happened here at the Olympic Games. With the year that it’s been, I’m really not surprised how it played out.

“So it definitely wasn’t my best work.”

Returning the sideline, Biles informed her coaches and teammates she was withdrawing.

People need to understand that athletes are no robots, but humans,” said Rebeca Andrade of Brazil, who succeeded Biles as Olympic vault champion. “The decision she made was the wisest thing to do and it had nothing to do with others.”

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Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn erases nightmare of Rio

TOKYO >> Puerto Rican hurdler Jasmine Camacho-Quinn stood behind the starting blocks at Olympic Stadium 10 minutes before high noon.

Behind her a giant Olympic flag swayed slightly in the breeze.

In front of her the Olympic 100 meter hurdles final, a race that five years earlier in Rio de Janeiro had brought her to her knees.

Camacho-Quinn was so distraught over stumbling her way to a disqualification in the 2016 Olympic semifinals she essentially went into self-imposed hiding at the University of Kentucky for much of the first semester after her return from Brazil.

“I felt embarrassed,” she said “like I let the whole country down.”

And then she decided to stop hiding.

“Five years ago I said that I wasn’t going to let that race determine my future,” Camacho-Quinn said.

Instead she will forever be defined by two brilliant races within 17 hours, the second of which Camacho-Quinn captured the 100 hurdles gold medal and so much more for Puerto Rico.

“I am pretty sure everybody is celebrating, is excited. They’ve been through so much,” Camacho-Quinn said referring to a series of earthquakes that have hindered efforts to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017.  “For such a small country it gives people, little kids hope.”

She began sobbing and for a moment was unable to speak.

“I am just glad I am the person to do that. I am really happy right now (tears). Anything is possible.”

Camacho-Quinn was born in Charleston, South Carolina, the daughter of an American father, James Quinn, and a Puerto Rican mother, Maria Camacho. She decided to represent her mother’s native country in international competition.

“I’m 100 percent Puerto Rican,” she said.

At Kentucky she became the first freshman to win the NCAA 100 hurdles title and then turned pro.

“It’s been a roller coaster since I’ve been a pro,” she said.

With seven of 10 hurdles in the 2016 Olympic semifinal behind her, Camacho-Quinn appeared headed toward the final. But she clipped the eight hurdle throwing her off-stride, hit the ninth squarely with her lead leg, stumbling for three steps, unable to clear the 10th and final barrier. She lost her balance and swerved into the lane to her right, earning a disqualification, staggered across the finish line and dropped her knees, her face, her tears pressed against the track.

What she described as the “ups and downs” continued after Rio. Injuries kept her out of the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

But she put it together this season, riding a 13-race undefeated streak into Tokyo that included a 12.38 Diamond League victory in Florence.

Much of the pre-Olympic focus, however, was on Keni Harrison of the U.S., Camacho-Quinn’s former training partner.

Harrison had also been haunted by 2016. Then also the gold medal favorite, Harrison failed to make the U.S. team. A month later she found some consolation in breaking the 28-year-old world record with a 12.20 blast in a Diamond League meet in London. Harrison, like Camacho-Quinn, a former NCAA champion at Kentucky, found redemption in winning the U.S. Trials last month.

But Camacho-Quinn put Harrison and the rest of the field on notice Saturday night with an Olympic record 12.26 clocking in her semifinal.

Afterward she was asked not if she would win the following morning but if she would break Harrison’s world record.

“I just take it step by step,” she said. “Don’t overthink it, don’t panic and everything will happen.”

She followed her own advice for most of the final, blowing away Harrison and the rest until she let the world record creep into her mind in the race’s final stages.

“At this point I was really running for the world record,” Camacho-Quinn said. “I hit the hurdle, but everything happens for a reason. I came through with the gold. My first gold medal.”

This time she made it across the finish line in one piece her 12.37 still well ahead of Harrison (12.52) and Jamaica’s Megan Tapper (12.55).

“I almost fell when I crossed the line, didn’t.”

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Simone Biles will not defend Olympic all-around gymnastics title

TOKYO

Tokyo—Only minutes into the Olympic Games team final Tuesday, Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of her generation or any other, lost her special awareness on a vault and stumbled on the landing.

Biles, the four-time Olympic and 19-time World champion, walked to where Team USA had gathered and informed her teammates and coaches she was withdrawing from the competition, citing mental health concerns, knocking these Olympic Games of their already shaky bearings.

Biles rocked the Tokyo Olympics again Wednesday afternoon with the announcement that she will not defend her all around time Thursday and a decision that raises the likelihood that the Games and NBC will lose their biggest star before the most troubled Olympics in 40 years even hit their halfway point.

“After further medical evaluation, Simone Biles has withdrawn from the final individual all-around competition,” USA Gymnastics said in a statement. “We wholeheartedly support Simone’s decision and applaud her bravery in prioritizing her well-being. Her courage shows, yet again, why she is a role model for so many.”

The statement did not address whether will compete in the individual apparatus finals which start Monday. Jade Carey, Biles’ U.S. teammate, will replace her in the all around competition.

Jade Carey, who finished ninth in qualifying, will take Biles’ place in the all-around. Carey initially did not qualify because she was the third-ranking American behind Biles and Sunisa Lee. International Gymnastics Federation rules limit countries to two athletes per event in the finals.

Even before Biles’ most recent announcement the Games were still reeling from her initial withdrawal the night before.

“It’s not really about the scoring, it’s not really about the medals,” Biles said late Tuesday night “I understand some people will say something, but at the end of the day, we are who we are as people.

“I say put mental health first, because if you don’t, then you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to. It’s OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself because it shows how strong of a competitor and a person that you really are, rather than just battle through it. … Hopefully I’ll get back there and compete a couple more events. We’ll see.”

The first sign of trouble came on Biles’ vault. She planned to do a Yurcenko 2 1/2, but only managed 1 1/2 rotations before stumbling on the landing. She received a 13.766 score, well before her usual marks in an event in which she is the Olympic champion and a two-time Worlds gold medalist.

“I did not choose to do a one-and-a-half,” Biles said laughing. “I tried to do a two-and-a-half, and that just was not clicking. It’s very uncharacteristic of me, and it just sucks that it happened here at the Olympic Games. With the year that it’s been, I’m really not surprised how it played out.

“So it definitely wasn’t my best work.”

Biles said she has increasingly felt pressure from being the face of these Olympic Games. She is also a survivor of sexual abuse by former U.S. Olympic and national team coach Larry Nassar has been a vocal and persistent critic of USA Gymnastics, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee and FBI’s handling of the Nassar case.

“In the back gym, coming in today, it was like fighting all those demons, ‘I have to put my pride aside, I have to do it for the team,” Biles said. “At the end of the day, I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health, and not jeopardize my health and well-being. …

“I just don’t trust myself as much as I used to. I don’t know if it’s age. I’m a little bit more nervous when I do gymnastics. I feel like I’m also not having as much fun, and I know that this Olympic Games,” she continued starting to weep, “I wanted it to be for myself.

“I was still doing it for other people, so it hurts my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people.”

More to come on this story.

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Saugus’s Abbey Weitzel first from Southern California to win a medal at Tokyo Olympic Games

SAUGUS — Abbey Weitzeil of Saugus on Satruday, July 24, became the first Southern Californian to win a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, winning a bronze medal by swimming the second leg on the U.S. women’s 4X100-meter freestyle relay team.

The U.S. was sixth in the field of eight after Erika Brown swam the opening leg in 54.02 seconds. Weitzeil swam her leg in 52.68 seconds, the fastest among the four U.S. relay team members, moving the Americans into fourth.

Natalie Hinds swam the third leg in 53.15 and Simone Manuel the anchor leg in 52.96 as the U.S. completed the race in 3:32.81, .03 of a second behind second-place Canada. Australia won in 3:29.69, breaking its previous world record of 3:30.65.

The medal was the third for Weitzeil, who won a gold medal as part of the 4X100 medley relay team and a silver on the 4X100 freestyle relay team in the 2016 Olympics.

The 24-year-old Weitzeil is next scheduled to compete Wednesday in a heat of the 100 freestyle, which she won at the U.S. Olympic trials.

Weitzeil graduated from Saugus High School in 2015 and deferred entering the University of California, Berkeley for a year to train for the Olympics. She swam for the Golden Bears from 2016-2020, winning the 2019 NCAA championship in the 50 freestyle and was the recipient of the 2020 Honda Sport Award for swimming, given to the national swimmer of the year.

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Dodgers lose to Giants as Kenley Jansen lets another 9th-inning lead disappear

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler throws to the plate during Thursday’s game against the Giants at Dodger Stadium. Buehler held the Giants to one run in 7-1/3 innings, striking out nine, but the Dodgers blew another ninth-inning lead in a 5-3 loss. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Giants LaMonte Wade, #31, steals third base as Dodgers Justin Turner, #10, gets the throw late during first inning action against the SF Giants at Dodger Stadium Thursday, July 22, 2021. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Dodgers Walker Buehler, #21, gets checked for foreign substances by umpire Jansen Visconti after the first inning against the SF Giants at Dodger Stadium Thursday, July 22, 2021. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Giants starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani throws to the plate against the Dodgers during Thursday’s game at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Dodgers Justin Turner, #10, connected on this pitch for a ground single to drive in Chris Taylor during first inning action against the SF Giants at Dodger Stadium Thursday, July 22, 2021. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Dodgers Chris Taylor, #3, scores on a ground ball by Justin Turner during first inning action against the SF Giants at Dodger Stadium Thursday, July 22, 2021. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Dodgers shortstop Chris Taylor forces out the Giants’ Alex Dickerson at second on a throw from Max Muncy, not but the throw to first was late during second inning action against the SF Giants at Dodger Stadium Thursday, July 22, 2021. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Dodgers’ AJ Pollock is out as first as the Giants’ LaMonte Wade catches the ball during the second inning at Dodger Stadium Thursday, July 22, 2021. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger went deep to catch this ball hit by the Giants’ Wilmer Flores during the first inning on Thursday at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Walker Buehler throws to the plate during the first inning against the Giants on Thursday at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Dodgers’ AJ Pollock is safe at first on a grounder as the Giants’ LaMonte Wade can’t make the play during the fourth inning on Thursday at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Dodgers relief pitcher Kenley Jansen shows his frustration after he thought he struck out the Giants’ Darin Ruf only for it to be called a bases-loaded walk during the ninth inning of Thursday night’s game at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers blew a ninth-inning lead and lost for the second night in a row. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, left, argues with first base umpire Ed Hickox after the Giants’ Darin Ruf was issued a bases-loaded walk during the ninth inning of Thursday night’s game at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers blew a ninth-inning lead and lost for the second night in a row. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, left, argues with first base umpire Ed Hickox after the Giants’ Darin Ruf was issued a bases-loaded walk during the ninth inning of Thursday night’s game at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers blew a ninth-inning lead and lost for the second night in a row. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Giants celebrate after scoring a pair of runs to cap their four-run ninth-inning rally against the Dodgers on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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LOS ANGELES — A casual conversation with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts during batting practice Thursday afternoon ended with this pronouncement.

“Kenley’s getting the save tonight,” Roberts said, the ever-optimistic manager striding away confident in his pronouncement.

Roberts had no idea how wrong he would be.

Hours later, Roberts entrusted Kenley Jansen with another ninth-inning lead, his third in the past five days. By the time Jansen strode off the mound, the lead was gone again, Roberts had been ejected for the second consecutive game and the Dodgers were about to lose, 5-3, to the San Francisco Giants.

According to Elias Sports, this is the first time in franchise history the Dodgers have lost three consecutive games in which they led entering the ninth inning (in a single season).

“It’s a big series. It’s Dodgers-Giants,” Dodgers starter Walker Buehler said after taking a 3-1 lead into the eighth inning. “They’re in first place. Obviously, it’s something we’re accustomed to being in that position. We’ve just got to keep going. Obviously, we’ve got a lot of baseball left to play.

“It is what it is. But these stink to lose. We want to win. We want to play well. I think we’ve played well both nights. It just hasn’t gone our way.”

More than not going their way, the Dodgers followed their biggest win of the season with back-to-back gut-punch losses to a team they – in their heart of hearts and private moments – don’t believe is their equal.

But the Giants came to town one game ahead of the Dodgers in the NL West and they leave having stretched that lead to three games thanks to ninth-inning rallies Wednesday (three runs) and Thursday (four runs). The two ancient rivals will catch their breath over the weekend then meet again for three more games starting Tuesday in San Francisco.

“First of all, Kenley’s been great for us all year. He’s been our closer and he’s been dominant,” said catcher Will Smith, whose two-run home run in the fourth inning gave the Dodgers their lead. “Tonight … he gets a ground ball with two outs, we didn’t make the play. Strikes a guy out, we didn’t get the call. They tie it up.

“It’s more the chips didn’t fall his way than anything he’s doing wrong. He’s been great all year.”

There were chips scattered all over the infield by the end of the ninth inning Thursday.

Buehler passed the lead to Blake Treinen in the eighth and Treinen retired both batters he faced easily, throwing just seven pitches – two fewer than he needed to retire the side in the eighth inning Wednesday.

When Jansen was shown on the video boards as he warmed up before the ninth inning, it set off a nervous rumble through the crowd, notes of discontent unmistakable Then he made their worst fears come true.

After striking out Yastrzemski to start the inning, Jansen gave up a single to Wilmer Flores – distinct improvement over the two-run home run Jansen served up to Flores in the ninth inning Wednesday. That brought the tying run to the plate.

Jansen struck out Alex Dickerson but Donovan Solano doubled over Cody Bellinger’s head in center field, putting the tying runs in scoring position. With the crowd on its feet – no doubt, many prepared to boo Jansen for a second consecutive night – Jansen walked pinch-hitter Jason Vosler to load the bases (after getting ahead 1-and-2 in the at-bat).

Thairo Estrada bounced a slow ground ball to shortstop Chris Taylor, who threw to Sheldon Neuse (in the game as a defensive replacement that inning) at second for the forceout that briefly ended the game.

Only briefly. A replay review overturned the original call, a run scored and the drama continued.

“Estrada’s a really good runner,” Roberts said, defending Taylor’s decision to go for the force at second on Vosler rather than make the play to first. “It’s a jailbreak and we had the force play. Sheldon’s a heckuva ballplayer, a heckuva defensive player. But I just think right there in that situation if we stretch, we get the guy and there’s no replay. But that’s part of baseball.”

The next batter, Darin Ruf, worked the count full against Jansen then checked his swing on the seventh pitch of the at-bat – a cutter up and away.

At least that’s what one person – and probably only one – thought. First base umpire Ed Hickox signaled no swing, allowing Ruf to walk and force in the tying run.

Roberts erupted from the Dodgers dugout, firing his hat into the ground and quickly getting ejected.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he went and the game should have been over,” Roberts said. “Eddie’s a very good umpire, been around a long time. But in that spot, two contending teams, you just can’t miss that call. The game should have been over and there’s no other way to look at it.”

Instead, Jansen’s next pitch decided it. LaMonte Wade Jr. lined a soft cutter into right field. It fell in front of Billy McKinney, freshly arrived from the New York Mets and no substitute defensively for Mookie Betts. Two runs scored on the single, the fifth consecutive batter to reach safely with two outs against Jansen.

“There’s a lot of people that are really pissed off and I’m leading the way,” Roberts said. “We should have won that game. It’s a game we really wanted, we had and we didn’t.

“The game should have been over, man. I don’t think the blame should be all on Kenley at all.”

Nonetheless, in three appearances since the All-Star break Jansen has faced 19 batters and allowed 13 of them to reach base on nine hits (including three doubles and a home run) and four walks – all while blowing three save situations.

“I thought that play at second base, if we stretch, he’s out and the game’s over,” Roberts said. “The checked swing, the game’s over and we’re not having this conversation. I’m not reconsidering his role.”

Will Smith unloads on one for the lead! #Dodgers pic.twitter.com/ZoMa4gwxzQ

— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) July 23, 2021

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Dodgers rally past Giants on Will Smith’s walk-off homer

LOS ANGELES — In this case, the Black Knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” came back to win on a walk-off home run.

Already playing without Mookie Betts (for the past three games) and Corey Seager (for the past two months) and featuring a patchwork pitching staff that had them sending out a pair of rookies to cover the first six innings of a key game in a showdown series for first place in the NL West, the Dodgers were further depleted when Justin Turner (left knee) and Max Muncy (right shoulder) each left Tuesday’s game after being hit by pitches from Giants starter Alex Wood.

’Tis but a flesh wound.

With Chris Taylor doing the heavy lifting and Will Smith striking the final blow, the Dodgers came back from five runs down to beat the Giants, 8-6, on Smith’s pinch-hit, three-run walk-off home run.

“That was huge for us. Obviously, this is a huge series for us,” Taylor said, in no way overstating things. “They took that first one from us and jumped out to an early lead in the second one. So for us to kind of stick with it, come back and find a way to win a game – that’s probably our biggest win of the year so far.”

That’s hard to deny as well.

The Dodgers came into this four-game series against the Giants trying to wrest away first place with one arm tied behind their back.

In Monday’s series opener, they started Tony Gonsolin, whose command and velocity are both off. He didn’t make it through four innings and the Dodgers lost. In the second game Tuesday, the Dodgers got a combined six innings from a pair of rookies, Darien Nunez (in his first big-league start and fourth big-league game) and Josiah Gray (making his MLB debut). But the pair gave up four home runs and the Dodgers trailed, 6-1, in the fifth inning.

“I’ll echo that, what CT said. … Division rival, the team we’re chasing. …. Staring down a 6-1 deficit at one point, lose a couple players in the middle of the game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, also measuring the comeback win as “huge.”

The Dodgers were in danger of dropping three games behind the Giants – a team that has surprised everyone by pitching better than expected and hitting far more home runs than would reasonably have been predicted by anything other than Farhan Zaidi’s laptop.

Alex Dickerson homered off Nunez. Gray had his moments, striking out seven in the first four innings of his big-league career (including four batters in a row at one point). But his mistakes traveled more than 400 feet, something that tends to happen with frequency in the big leagues.

LaMonte Wade Jr., Thairo Estrada and Mike Yastrzemski each took Gray deep, giving the Giants 142 home runs this season and moving them past the Toronto Blue Jays for the major-league lead. The Giants ranked 12th in the majors in home runs last season and 26th during the last full season, 2019.

Taylor was the Dodgers’ only answer.

“He was great. He had a big night,” Roberts said. “He’s relentless. With two superstars out of the game (Turner and Muncy) and Mookie unavailable, he carried us tonight.”

Taylor led off the game with a double and scored on an RBI single by Muncy. In the fifth inning, he drove a solo home run over the left field fence.

That was all the damage the Dodgers did against Wood. But after he left, Austin Barnes had an RBI double against reliever John Brebbia and Taylor struck again, driving in two with his second home run of the game.

That cut the Giants’ lead to one, 6-5 – within walking distance, as it turned out.

“Yeah, losing JT and Munce is definitely a tough blow – especially when you’re fighting from behind,” Taylor said. “I think we just put our heads down and focused on every out, every at-bat, one inning at a time. We slowly worked our way back into it and gave ourselves a chance at the end.”

Taylor Rogers gave them that chance. The Giants reliever threw six consecutive balls to start the ninth and walked both Taylor and Matt Beaty. Smith came off the bench and hammered one of only three pitches Rogers managed to put over the plate, driving it deep into the left field pavilion as the crowd erupted.

“The 0-0 was actually a pretty good pitch to hit,” Smith said recapping his big moment. “Took it. (He) hung a slider, I put a good swing on it, got it in the air to left and I got it out.”

Smith’s collection of clutch hits includes another pinch-hit walk-off home run (on June 23, 2019 – part of “Rookie Walk-off Weekend”). According to Stats LLC, Smith and Hall of Famer Willie McCovey are the only players in major-league history with two pinch-hit, walk-off home runs before their 27th birthday.

“Will, coming off the bench, just calm and cool – he just keeps getting big hits,” Roberts said.

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Senior Living: Calming computer jitters — help for seniors who aren’t tech-savvy

Six months ago, Cindy Sanders, 68, bought a computer so she could learn how to email and have Zoom chats with her great-grandchildren.

It’s still sitting in a box, unopened.

“I didn’t know how to set it up or how to get help,” said Sanders, who lives in Philadelphia and has been extremely careful during the coronavirus pandemic.

Like Sanders, millions of older adults are newly motivated to get online and participate in digital offerings after being shut inside, hoping to avoid the virus, for more than a year. But many need assistance and aren’t sure where to get it.

A recent survey from AARP, conducted in September and October, highlights the quandary. It found that older adults boosted technology purchases during the pandemic but more than half (54%) said they needed a better grasp of the devices they’d acquired. Nearly 4 in 10 people (37%) admitted they weren’t confident about using these technologies.

Sanders, a retired hospital operating room attendant, is among them. “Computers put the fear in me,” she told me, “but this pandemic, it’s made me realize I have to make a change and get over that.”

With a daughter’s help, Sanders plans to turn on her new computer and figure out how to use it by consulting materials from Generations on Line. Founded in 1999, the Philadelphia organization specializes in teaching older adults about digital devices and navigating the internet. Sanders recently discovered it through a local publication for seniors.

Before the pandemic, Generations on Line provided free in-person training sessions at senior centers, public housing complexes, libraries and retirement centers. When those programs shut down, it created an online curriculum for smartphones and tablets (generationsonline.org/apps) and new tutorials on Zoom and telehealth as well as a “family coaching kit” to help older adults with technology. All are free and available to people across the country.

Demand for Generations on Line’s services rose tenfold during the pandemic as many older adults became dangerously isolated and cut off from needed services.

Those who had digital devices and knew how to use them could do all kinds of activities online: connect with family and friends, shop for groceries, order prescriptions, take classes, participate in telehealth sessions and make appointments to get covid vaccines. Those without were often at a loss — with potentially serious consequences.

“I have never described my work as a matter of life or death before,” said Angela Siefer, executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, an advocacy group for expanding broadband access. “But that’s what happened during the pandemic, especially when it came to vaccines.”

Other organizations specializing in digital literacy for older adults are similarly seeing a surge of interest. Cyber-Seniors, which pairs older adults with high school or college students who serve as technology mentors, has trained more than 10,000 seniors since April 2020 — three times the average of the past several years. (Services are free and grants and partnerships with government agencies and nonprofit organizations supply funding, as is true for several of the organizations discussed here.)

Older adults using digital devices for the first time can call 1-844-217-3057 and be coached over the phone until they’re comfortable pursuing online training. “A lot of organizations are giving out tablets to seniors, which is fantastic, but they don’t even know the basics, and that’s where we come in,” said Brenda Rusnak, Cyber-Seniors’ managing director. One-on-one coaching is also available.

Lyla Panichas, 78, who lives in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, got an iPad three months ago from Rhode Island’s digiAGE program — one of many local technology programs for older adults that started during the pandemic. She is getting help from the University of Rhode Island’s Cyber-Seniors program, which plans to offer digital training to 200 digiAGE participants in communities hardest hit by covid-19 by the end of this year.

“The first time my tutor called me, I mean, the kids rattle things off so fast. I said, Wait a minute. You have a little old lady here. Let me keep up with you,” Panichas said. “I couldn’t keep up and I ended up crying.”

Panichas persisted, however, and when her tutor called again the next week she began “being able to grasp things.” Now, she plays games online, streams movies and has Zoom get-togethers with her son, in Arizona, and her sister, in Virginia. “It’s kind of lifted my fears of being isolated,” she told me.

OATS (Older Adults Technology Services) is set to expand the reach of its digital literacy programs significantly after a recent affiliation with AARP. It runs a national hotline for people seeking technical support, 1-920-666-1959, and operates Senior Planet technology training centers in six cities (New York; Denver; Rockville, Maryland; Plattsburgh, New York; San Antonio, Texas; and Palo Alto, California). All in-person classes converted to digital programming once the pandemic closed down much of the country.

Germaine St. John, 86, a former mayor of Laramie, Wyoming, found an online community of seniors and made dear friends after signing up with Senior Planet Colorado during the pandemic. “I have a great support system here in Laramie, but I was very cautious about going out because I was in the over-80 group,” she told me. “I don’t know what I would have done without these activities.”

Older adults anywhere in the country can take Senior Planet virtual classes for free. (A weekly schedule is available at seniorplanet.org/get-involved/online.) Through its AARP partnership, OATS is offering another set of popular classes at AARP’s Virtual Community Center. Tens of thousands of older adults now participate.

Aging Connected (agingconnected.org), another new OATS initiative, is focusing on bringing 1 million older adults online by the end of 2022.

An immediate priority is to educate older adults about the government’s new $32 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit for low-income individuals, which was funded by a coronavirus relief package and became available last month. That short-term program provides $50 monthly discounts on high-speed internet services and a one-time discount of up to $100 for the purchase of a computer or tablet. But the benefit isn’t automatic. People must apply to get funding.

“We are calling on anybody over the age of 50 to try the internet and learn what the value can be,” said Thomas Kamber, OATS’ executive director. Nearly 22 million seniors don’t have access to high-speed internet services, largely because these services are unaffordable or unavailable, according to a January report co-sponsored by OATS and the Humana Foundation, its Aging Connected partner.

Other new ventures are also helping older adults with technology. Candoo Tech, which launched in February 2019, works with seniors directly in 32 states as well as organizations such as libraries, senior centers and retirement centers.

For various fees, Candoo Tech provides technology training by phone or virtually, as-needed support from “tech concierges,” advice about what technology to buy and help preparing devices for out-of-the-box use.

“You can give an older adult a device, access to the internet and amazing content, but if they don’t have someone showing them what to do, it’s going to sit there unused,” said Liz Hamburg, Candoo’s president and chief executive.

GetSetUp’s model relies on older adults to teach skills to their peers in small, interactive classes. It started in February 2020 with a focus on tech training, realizing that “fear of technology” was preventing older adults from exploring “a whole world of experiences online,” said Neil Dsouza, founder and chief executive.

For older adults who’ve never used digital devices, retired teachers serve as tech counselors over the phone. “Someone can call in [1-888-559-1614] and we’ll walk them through the whole process of downloading an app, usually Zoom, and taking our classes,” Dsouza said. GetSetUp is offering about 80 hours of virtual technology instruction each week.

For more information about tech training for older adults in your area, contact your local library, senior center, department on aging or Area Agency on Aging. Also, each state has a National Assistive Technology Act training center for older adults and people with disabilities. These centers let people borrow devices and offer advice about financial assistance. Some started collecting and distributing used smartphones, tablets and computers during the pandemic.

For information about a program in your area, go to at3center.net.

Kaiser Health News is a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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Court says California must more quickly move mentally incompetent defendants out of jails

SAN FRANCISCO — California can’t lock up people for months in jails after they have been found mentally incompetent to stand trial, a state appeals court said.

In a 3-0 ruling Tuesday, a panel of the First District Court of Appeal upheld a 2019 lower court order that gave the state a 28-day deadline for placing defendants in state mental hospitals or other treatment facilities after they were found incompetent to stand trial because of psychological or intellectual disabilities.

The appellate court also included people charged with certain felony sex offenses, rejecting an exception carved out in the earlier Alameda County ruling.

The previous ruling had set a phase-in period that ends next year.

State law says people facing criminal charges but who are judged incompetent to face trial can be ordered committed for treatment to help them become capable of understanding trial proceedings.

Two years before the 2019 time limit was enacted, defendants waited 86 days on average after a judge issued the transfer order to get into a hospital, according to the appellate court.

California has “systematically violated the due-process rights” of these defendants by keeping them for longer periods in jails where they may suffer further problems because of crowding, violence and a lack of treatment, Presiding Justice J. Anthony Kline said in the ruling.

The decision involved a 2015 lawsuit filed against the state Department of State Hospitals and Department of Developmental Services on behalf of five relatives of defendants who were found incompetent to stand trial.

Due to lack of space, about 4,000 people each year who are declared incompetent to stand trial are placed on a waitlist for admission to facilities administered by those departments, and the list for admission to state hospitals alone soared to more than 1,600 people during the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase of 500% since 2013, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which took part in the lawsuit.

The ACLU has urged use of community treatment centers to help ease the hospital bed shortage.

“The court recognized that California cannot continue to warehouse people in jail for months at a time while it denies them both their right to a trial and the mental health treatment they need to become competent to have a trial,” Michael Risher, counsel for the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, said in a statement.

“This ruling is a step in the right direction, and our family is very grateful,” said Stephanie Stiavetti, a plaintiff who said her brother was abused in jail during weeks of delay before his transfer.

“The state needs to recognize that there are far too many mental health patients suffering in jails, lost in a system that is rife with abuse and ill-prepared to care for them,” she said in a statement. “Immediate legislation is needed to ensure that people with mental health disorders receive treatment promptly and outside of the jail system.”

The Department of State Hospitals told the San Francisco Chronicle that it was reviewing the ruling.

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Alexander: Could Lakers have repeated under normal circumstances?

Championship DNA, for whatever it’s worth, doesn’t guarantee good health.

The Lakers might have been able to boast the former, the outgrowth of last season’s championship run in the bubble. But the latter failed them throughout this mad scramble of a shortened, compressed NBA season. And yes, when it comes to writing the story of the Lakers’ 2020-21 season, and the bid to repeat that fell short, there is blame to be laid and it’s not all internal.

That story ended Thursday night with a 113-100 elimination game loss to the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the first round, and it figured that the most important game of the season revolved around the injury report. Even then, good news turned out to be not so good after all.

After a couple of days of uncertainty, the Lakers received a blast of hope when Anthony Davis was deemed available to play before the game … only to have it doused when the All-Star big man limped off for good less than 5½ minutes into the game, his strained left groin making it impossible to continue after he’d visibly labored whenever he tried to run or jump.

The moment of truth came when Davis pursued the Suns’ Devin Booker on a drive to the basket, jumped … and came down awkwardly and agonizingly. Davis bent over in obvious pain, then limped to the sideline and plopped to the floor, head bowed in disappointment. Moments later he went to the locker room for treatment, and by halftime, the obvious had become official: He would not be returning.

Davis, of course, had provided the first clue that this Lakers season was going to be a grind when he limped off the court on Valentine’s Day night in Denver with the calf strain felt throughout Southern California. Davis missed 30 consecutive games with that injury and 36 all told in the regular season, hyperextended his left knee in Game 3 of the Suns series, then suffered the Grade 1 strain of his left groin in Game 4 on Sunday while trying to play through the knee issue. And yes, the knee injury led to the groin injury.

That in itself was a microcosm of what turned out to be a brutal end of the season, with Davis and LeBron James missing extensive time and a team that started out 21-6 and was seemingly in a great position to repeat suddenly having to battle for its playoff life.

It’s probably no coincidence that the Lakers and Miami, the last teams standing in the Orlando bubble last October, were also among the first ones gone this spring. With a short offseason followed by a 72-game schedule crammed into 146 days, with few off days, little time for real practices and an array of continuing COVID-19 protocols and restrictions … well, what did you expect?

“From the moment we entered the bubble to now, today, it’s been draining,” said James, a 36-year-old four-time league MVP. “Mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally draining.”

The short offseason disrupted players’ routines, Davis noted, and “all around the league, guys didn’t handle that very well. … You usually take about a month or so off and you still have six weeks weight room training, and then you have another month, month and a half for on-court (work). We didn’t get that.”

Lakers coach Frank Vogel acknowledged that “none of our guys were prepared for training camp, and we tried to grind through it and get our legs under us,” another reminder that there’s a good reason why, under normal circumstances, players are expected to be in condition when camp begins.

The first-round series with the Suns finished with the No. 2 seed doing what it should do to a No. 7 seed. At 51-21 in the regular season, Phoenix was only one game behind Utah for the league’s best record, and the Suns might be capable of going the distance assuming future Hall of Famer Chris Paul gets his health back.

But Vogel had every right to wonder what if.

“This is a matchup, if we’re whole, that should probably take place in the conference finals,” he said. “But obviously the regular season was what it was with the injuries, and we slipped. I would like to see what our group could have done against this team if we were at full strength. But we weren’t. That’s sports. You gotta do the best you can and make the best of it.”

Not even James, with his personal streak of winning elimination games and his record of never having been knocked out in the first round in 14 previous tries, could save the day here. Then again, what was once a 29-point Phoenix lead in the first half was whittled to 10 late in the third quarter, thanks to a rally by a small lineup featuring LeBron at center.

“I was talking to Wes (Wesley Matthews) in the locker room just a few minutes ago, and I said the one thing that bothers me more than anything was we never really got an opportunity to see our team at full strength, either because of injury, or COVID, or something going on with our ballclub this year,” James said. “We could never fully get into a rhythm and never really kind of see the full potential of what we were capable of.”

That said, the Lakers’ early exit also means a full summer of rest, recovery and preparation. James seemed to indicate he’d skip the Olympics (while throwing in a sly plug for the “Space Jam” sequel coming out this summer).

Point guard Dennis Schröder put it another way, more colorfully than can be fully quoted in this publication, but the gist of it was: “You’ve got to get through the (garbage) to get to the good (stuff).”

If that’s true, wait until next year.

jalexander@scng.com

@Jim_Alexander on Twitter

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Dodgers’ Chris Taylor ends 14-pitch at-bat with 3-run double to help beat Cardinals

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Trevor Bauer throws to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Cardinals Paul Goldschmidt (46) reaches first base ahead of a throw to Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy (13) during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. Los Angeles second baseman Zach McKinstry committed the throwing error. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Cardinals’ Tommy Edman, left, is caught stealing third base by Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner (10) during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Dodgers starting pitcher Trevor Bauer throws to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jack Flaherty, a former Harvard-Westlake star, throws to the plate during the first inning of Monday’s game against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Gavin Lux #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a home run during the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Gavin Lux #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his home run during the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Gavin Lux (9) gets a high-five from third base coach Dino Ebel (91) as he runs the bases after hitting a home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Gavin Lux (9) crosses home plate after hitting a home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Jack Flaherty #22 of the St. Louis Cardinals pitches during the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Chris Taylor (3) gets a high-five from third base coach Dino Ebel (91) as he runs the bases after hitting a home run during the second inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his home run during the second inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) catches a fly ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals’ Tommy Edman during the third inning of a baseball game Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Mookie Betts (50) is caught stealing second by St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Tommy Edman (19) during the third inning of a baseball game Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Mookie Betts #50 of the Los Angeles Dodgers attempts to steal second base against Tommy Edman #19 of the St. Louis Cardinals during the third inning at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Gavin Lux #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after striking out during the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Justin Williams #26 of the St. Louis Cardinals rounds the bases after his home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • St. Louis Cardinals’ Justin Williams (26) celebrates with Carlos Martinez (18) after Williams hit a home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Justin Williams #26 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates his home run with Carlos Martinez #18 during the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • St. Louis Cardinals’ Dylan Carlson (3) hits a home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Cody Bellinger (35) watches as a ball hit by St. Louis Cardinals’ Dylan Carlson flies over the fence for a home run during the sixth inning of a baseball game Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Dylan Carlson #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals rounds the bases after his two-run home run during the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • St. Louis Cardinals fielder Dylan Carlson (3) celebrates with Tommy Edman (19) after they both scored off of a home run hit by Carlson during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Dylan Carlson #3 of the St. Louis Cardinals celebrates his two-run home run with Carlos Martinez #18 during the sixth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner (10) singles during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Genesis Cabrera (92) throws during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a three RBI double during the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • The Dodgers’ Chris Taylor connects for a tie-breaking, three-run double on the 14th pitch of his at-bat during the sixth inning of Monday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner (10), Will Smith (16), and Cody Bellinger (35) celebrate after all of them scored off of a double hit by Chris Taylor during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his three RBI double during the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner (10), Will Smith (16), and Cody Bellinger (35) celebrate after all of them scored off of a double hit by Chris Taylor during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Chris Taylor #3 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after hitting a double during the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers’ Will Smith (16), Cody Bellinger (35), and Justin Turner (10) celebrate with manager Dave Roberts, right, after all three players scored off of a double hit by Chris Taylor during the sixth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Justin Turner #10 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates in the dugout after scoring on a three-run double by Chris Taylor during the sixth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • St. Louis Cardinals’ Tyler O’Neill (27) crosses home plate after hitting a home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Matt Beaty #45 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs around the bases after a double by Mookie Betts #50 during the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Matt Beaty #45 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrates his run scored from a double by Mookie Betts #50 during the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Edmundo Sosa #63 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws the ball to first base for the out during the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • A Los Angeles Dodgers fan yells from his seat during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith (16) and relief pitcher Phil Bickford (52) celebrate a 9-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in a baseball game Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Phil Bickford #52 and Will Smith #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate their 9-4 win against the St. Louis Cardinals after the game at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Justin Turner #10 and Max Muncy #13 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate their 9-4 win against the St. Louis Cardinals after the game at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • The Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate a 9-4 win over the St. Louis Cardinals in a baseball game Monday, May 31, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Cody Bellinger #35 and manager Dave Roberts #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate their 9-4 win against the St. Louis Cardinals after the game at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: A general view of a flyover before the game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 31: Justin Turner #10, Max Muncy #13 and Gavin Lux #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers run out to the field before the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium on May 31, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES — And in the big inning, Chris Taylor had the book on Genesis.

The Dodgers scored four times in the sixth inning – capped by a 14-pitch at-bat from Taylor against lefty reliever Genesis Cabrera – to come from behind and beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 9-4, Monday night.

The longest at-bat of Taylor’s career came with the score tied, two outs and the bases loaded. It ended with a three-run double into the right-center field gap, breaking the tie and snapping the Dodgers’ three-game losing streak.

“That was crazy. It was an epic at-bat,” Dodgers starting pitcher Trevor Bauer said of the hit that made him a winner despite giving up three home runs. “In a big spot, he put together a crazy at-bat.

“Great at-bat. That’s about all I can say about it. Great at-bat.”

The Dodgers had done little for five innings against Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty – not unexpectedly. Flaherty came into the game with an MLB-best eight wins, a 2.84 ERA and a history of frustrating Dodger hitters.

In five career starts against the Dodgers, the former Harvard-Westlake star has allowed just 14 hits and a .139 batting average while striking out 45 in 30 innings.

He gave up just two hits in the first five innings Monday but they were back-to-back home runs by Gavin Lux and Taylor in the second inning.

Seven of the next eight Dodgers struck out against Flaherty and he retired 10 of 11 after the home runs. But Flaherty came out of the game after just five innings and 83 pitches due to tightness in his left side.

Bauer was every bit as stingy, allowing just one hit in the first five innings. But the Cardinals took a 3-2 lead in the top of the sixth when Bauer gave up a leadoff home run to Justin Williams high off the right-field foul pole then a two-run homer to Dylan Carlson after second baseman Zach McKinstry made his second throwing error of the game.

Bauer gave up another homer in the seventh before the Dodgers went to the bullpen. Seventeen of the 22 runs Bauer has allowed this season have been the result of the 13 home runs he has given up.

“It’s just frustrating,” he said. “Forty percent of the hits I’ve given up are homers (13 of 40). I haven’t given up a run on a non-homer in over a month. Good pitches, bad pitches – it just seems like my luck on homers is terrible right now. It’s frustrating when you don’t get a chance to get out of jams. Just give up a hit ordouble or something.

“I don’t give up many hits and all of a sudden, when I do give up hits it’s a homer. Hopefully, it regresses back to the mean a little bit. But we’ll see. We’ll dig in and figure it out. But my gut reaction is it’s not anything necessarily that I’m doing. I don’t think I have any patterns. It’s not one specific pitch. It’s righties and lefties.”

The Dodgers were trailing but they must have been relieved when Flaherty didn’t come out for the bottom of the sixth. The Cardinals certainly weren’t.

After going 2 for 16 in five innings against the Cardinals starter, the Dodgers went 8 for 17 and put up seven runs in the final three innings against the Cardinal bullpen.

Right-hander Ryan Helsley got a ground out but then gave up a double to Max Muncy and a single to Justin Turner, putting runners at the corners. Cardinals manager Mike Shildt brought in the left-hander, Cabrera, to face Cody Bellinger.

That only created more problems.

Cabrera walked Bellinger and Will Smith to load the bases and force in a run. The hard-throwing lefty froze Lux with a 99-mph fastball for a called third strike, bringing up Taylor.

Cabrera missed with two fastballs but got Taylor to foul off a curveball then swing and miss at another fastball to even the count, 2-and-2.

“I was just trying to be on the heater and adjust to the offspeed,” Taylor said. “He’s got a really good fastball and I guess I didn’t want to be in between. Just trust my eyes there.

“We have scouting reports on all these guys. So I’d gone over them. I knew he had a good fastball and he liked to mix his off-speed in there as well. I was just trying to keep it short and simple against him. Sort of single him to death or play pepper however you want to think about it.”

The next four pitches were fastballs at 97 or 98 mph and Taylor fouled them all off then took a curveball to push the count full. Cabrera tried a changeup, a curveball and two fastballs. Taylor kept giving out souvenirs, fouling them all off – one just barely, in and out of catcher Yadier Molina’s glove.

“He was throwing a lot of strikes,” Taylor said. “Early in the at-bat, he fell behind and then I think he threw almost all strikes after that. It’s not like I was laying off tough pitches there, 3-2. I was swinging at every pitch.”

Taylor fouled off eight of nine pitches before lining another fastball – the 10th of the 14-pitch clash – into the gap, driving in the go-ahead runs.

“It was fun when I hit the double,” Taylor said when asked if he had enjoyed the building tension. “During the at-bat, I was trying to stay within myself and black out, so to speak. Just stay focused. But I could definitely feel the energy, especially once I came through with the hit.”

Tyler O’Neill’s home run off Bauer in the seventh cut into the lead but Lux got it back with his second home run of the game in the eighth inning and the Dodgers put the game away with two more runs. After Taylor doubled for the second time in the game, Matt Beaty drove him in with a pinch-hit single then scored on an RBI double by Mookie Betts.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was on the bench in May 2004 when Dodgers teammate Alex Cora ended an 18-pitch at-bat against Cubs right-hander Matt Clement with a home run. Roberts said he had flashbacks during Taylor’s game-turning at-bat Monday.

“He just wasn’t going to be denied,” Roberts said of Taylor. “The guy was up there throwing 97, 98 mph, breaking ball, changeup. A guy that typically doesn’t have command it’s sometimes harder because you don’t want to be surprised by a ball in the zone. But CT was just relentless in that at-bat.”

#Dodgers Chris Taylor: “It’s not like I laid off any tough pitches. He was throwing a lot of strikes” pic.twitter.com/IoEQVbhaDz

— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) June 1, 2021

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