CINCINNATI (AP) — The often-criticized Los Angeles bullpen came through when needed most.
Jim Johnson slipped strike three past Ryan LaMarre to stop a seventh-inning rally, Luis Avilan struck out Jay Bruce with the tying runs on base in the eighth, and the Dodgers held off the Cincinnati Reds for a 7-4 victory on Wednesday night.
Avilan also struck out Bruce with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning of the Dodgers' 5-1 win on Tuesday.
"I always get very excited about those situations," Avilan said.
Even though the Dodgers' bullpen went into the game with the 13th-worst combined ERA in the National League, manager Don Mattingly doesn't think it's that bad.
"Things are never as bad as they seem or as good as they seem," Mattingly said.
Scott Van Slyke, A.J. Ellis and Yasiel Puig homered during a five-run fourth inning, Kike Hernandez added three hits and Adrian Gonzalez chipped in a ninth-inning RBI double for the NL West-leading Dodgers, who have won two straight after a season-high, five-game losing streak.
The Reds, who have lost 11 of their last 12 games and slipped to 1-8 on their 10-game homestand, reached left-hander Brett Anderson for three unearned runs. Anderson (8-8) gave up five hits with one walk, four strikeouts and a wild pitch.
Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth for his 25th save.
Left-hander David Holmberg (1-4) allowed all three of the Dodgers' fourth-inning homers.
"I'm struggling with consistency," Holmberg said. "The command is really not there. I just have to work on repeating my delivery between starts. Nobody wants to work up in the zone. Using the bottom of the strike zone is part of my game, too."
After Hernandez gave Los Angeles a 1-0 lead with a second-inning single, Van Slyke led off the fourth with his fifth homer of the season and first since June 26 at Miami. Ellis followed with a 413-foot, two-run shot, his fourth, before Puig also launched a 413-footer to center field with Jimmy Rollins on base for a 6-0 lead.
Puig's 11th homer of the season knocked Holmberg out of the game. The left-hander was roughed up for seven hits and six runs with two walks and one strikeout.
Holmberg also allowed three home runs against the Dodgers on Aug. 15, giving up seven runs in just two innings of a loss in Los Angeles.
"It's his command," manager Bryan Price said. "It sounds like a broken record. David is getting behind and getting hit, or getting ahead and not finishing them off."
The Reds took advantage of second baseman Chase Utley's two-out error on Bruce's popup in the seventh inning to score three runs. Ivan De Jesus Jr. broke up the shutout with an RBI single before Brayan Pena added a two-run liner past a sprawling Anderson.
Brandon Phillips added an RBI single in the eighth.
Puig's home run extended his hitting streak to a season-high nine games. He's gotten at least one hit in 11 of his last 12 games against the Reds since May 27, 2014. The homer was his fourth of the month.
After a post All-Star Game slump during which his average dipped to .256, Home Run Derby champion Todd Frazier has pushed it back to .265 with hits in seven of his last eight games (12 for 31, .387). He's hitting .328 (20 for 61) in his last 15 games.
Dodgers: RHP Juan Nicasio reported no problem after facing five batters in the eighth inning of Los Angeles' 5-1 win on Tuesday, Mattingly said before Wednesday's game. Nicasio was reinstated from the disabled list before the game after missing 12 games with a left abdominal strain.
Reds: Baseball-related activities are not in OF Billy Hamilton's immediate future. Hamilton, the major leagues' stolen-base leader, still has to wear a shoulder harness for periods of time every day and is in physical therapy while trying to recover from a sprained capsule in his right shoulder. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Aug. 19.
Dodgers: RHP Zack Greinke (13-3, 1.67), the major leagues' ERA leader, is the scheduled starter as Los Angeles tries to salvage an eight-game road trip that opened with five straight losses.
Reds: Rookie RHP Anthony DeSclafani (7-9, 3.97), the most experienced of Cincinnati's all-rookie rotation with 30 career starts, is the scheduled starter in the finale of the Reds' 10-game homestand.