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CHICAGO (AP) — While the Chicago White Sox are looking to the future as their top prospect made his debut with the club, the Los Angeles Dodgers are just fine in the present.
The MLB-best Dodgers slugged their way to a 9-1 victory Wednesday night in a rain-shortened game, winning their 11th straight and spoiling the White Sox debut of Yoan Moncada.
Kike Hernandez homered in his first two at-bats, breaking out of a 1-for-23 slump and helping the Dodgers to their 31st victory in 35 games. The game was called in the top of the eighth inning after a 37-minute delay.
"The confidence that we have in our group that we're going to win a game on a particular night is real," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "The talent in the room is real, the confidence that we have in each other is real. Now, it's just going out there and doing it.
"You can talk about expecting to win, but you've got to do it to really believe in it, and we're doing it."
Hernandez had solo home runs in the second and fourth innings, his second career multi-homer game. His approach to breaking out was simple.
"I told myself to swing at strikes and I did," Hernandez said. "We're trying to ride it out as long as possible, but we feel like we're the team to beat."
Chicago starter Carlos Rodon (1-3) allowed home runs to his first batter, as Chris Taylor led the game off with one, and his last, as Corey Seager's two-run homer in the fourth chased him.
Moncada, a second baseman acquired in December as the main piece in a trade with Boston for ace Chris Sale, batted sixth and was hitless in two at-bats. He drew a walk in his first plate appearance for the White Sox, then grounded out in the fourth inning and flied out in the sixth.
"I was excited with the way the fans treated me and how they were cheering for me," Moncada said through a translator. "I felt good. I executed my plan. I didn't get any base hits, but I hit the ball hard."
The White Sox sold about 5,000 tickets Wednesday partly in response to Moncada's call-up from Triple-A Charlotte, according to the team. The fans hung on every pitch of his first plate appearance, where he worked an 0-2 count for a nine-pitch walk.
"He's being welcomed by a large city that is looking forward to having him here for a long time and being a contribution to this organization, so it's a good thing," White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. "Once the dust settles a little bit, he gets his feet under him and is just playing the game of baseball, he'll take advantage of it, kind of embrace it, kind of stay on an even keel and move on."
After Taylor's home run, Melky Cabrera answered with a solo shot in the bottom of the first to tie the score.
Rodon allowed three walks and struck out four.
Kenta Maeda (8-4) allowed one run and five hits in five innings, striking out three. Reliever Ross Stribling threw two scoreless innings, retiring the final six batters he faced.
Three straight doubles by Yaisiel Puig, Trayce Thompson and Taylor and RBI singles from Seager and Justin Turner in the four-run sixth inning closed the scoring for the Dodgers, who have won 14 of 15 games.
Roberts confidently responded to a pre-game question about fellow National League teams making moves, as Arizona acquired OF J.D. Martinez on Tuesday and the Chicago Cubs traded for LHP Jose Quintana last week.
"We're very aware of what's going on around baseball. We still know we're the best team," Roberts said.
Seager's blast was his 44th as a shortstop, passing Rafael Furcal for most career homers from the position in franchise history.
Dodgers: LHP Hyun-Jin Ryu (bruised left foot) pitched four innings of a simulated game on Wednesday. "He looked really good," Roberts said. Ryu is scheduled to pitch against Minnesota on Monday, serving as a sixth starter for one turn in the rotation.
Dodgers: The Dodgers return home for four games with Atlanta starting Thursday when RHP Brandon McCarthy (6-3, 3.38 ERA) opposes RHP Mike Foltynewicz (7-5, 3.84 ERA) of the Braves.
White Sox: Chicago will head to Kansas City for three games starting Friday as RHP James Shields (2-2, 5.10 ERA) faces his former team against RHP Ian Kennedy (3-6, 4.32 ERA).