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Streaking Los Angeles Dodgers enter second half on pace to win 100 games

UPDATED: Thu., July 13, 2017

Cody Bellinger, right, has 25 home runs and Justin Turner, left, is hitting .377 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Cody Bellinger, right, has 25 home runs and Justin Turner, left, is hitting .377 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
By Beth Harris Associated Press

LOS ANGELES – The century mark is in sight for the Los Angeles Dodgers heading into the second half of the season.

Their 61-29 record leads the majors for the first time since 2009. Their plus-163 run differential is the best in National League history at the break, according to STATS LLC. They own a 7 1/2-game lead over second-place Arizona in the N.L. West.

The last time the Dodgers reached 100 wins was in 1974 when they were 102-60 under manager Walter Alston. They lost the World Series to Oakland.

Riding a six-game winning streak, the Dodgers open the second half Friday with three games at Miami, followed by an interleague series in Chicago against the White Sox. Brandon McCarthy (6-3) takes the mound in the opener against the Marlins in his second start since coming off the disabled list.

Los Angeles is a major league-best 26-4 since June 7.

“How long is it a hot streak or this is just us?” ace Clayton Kershaw said. “I guess we’ll find out.”

After going a major league-best 39-11 at home – winning 18 of their last 19 – in the first half, the Dodgers play 40 of their remaining 71 games on the road. They’ll face the next-to-last Padres and last-place Giants a combined 18 times.

“We are just really good at being in the moment right now. We’re not worrying about what happened yesterday or worrying about what’s in front of us,” said third baseman Justin Turner, one of the team’s six All-Stars.

A fifth consecutive division title seems within reach, barring a slew of injuries.

The Dodgers already have overcome the losses of injured veterans Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier, along with Andrew Toles, thanks to the offensive prowess of Turner and N.L. rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger.

Turner is hitting a team-best .377 with 40 runs, 10 homers and 37 RBIs to go with a .473 on-base percentage in 65 games.

Bellinger ended the first half hitting .261 despite a recent slump. The first baseman made the All-Star team and the Home Run Derby despite spending the first three weeks of the season in the minors.

The team’s 53 homers in June set a club record for a month.

Even mercurial Yasiel Puig has found his touch around the plate, hitting .251 with 43 RBIs and 16 home runs.

“This team has shown a lot of resiliency,” Turner said.

Kershaw has been his usual stellar self, going 14-2 with a 2.18 ERA. The left-hander has made 13 straight starts without a loss, going 10-0 with a 1.98 ERA while holding batters to a .187 average. He’ll return well-rested next week after taking off the series at Miami.

“We’re winning a lot of games, it’s fun and we’ve got a really good team,” Kershaw said.

Fellow lefty Alex Wood also is 10-0 with a 1.67 ERA.

“The pitching has been very consistent, the defense has been very consistent, and the at-bats over the last month have really picked up,” said second-year manager Dave Roberts, whose upbeat style has energized the clubhouse. “We have very good players who are playing a very good brand of baseball.”

The Dodgers are rarely out of games, either. They have six walk-off victories so far and are 5-2 in extra innings.

All-Star closer Kenley Jansen has 21 saves in as many chances, and Roberts has trusted him in four-out save situations.

“It’s the best half I’ve ever been a part of,” Kershaw said. “Come Friday, we need to get back to what we’ve been doing.”

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