Julio Urías and Dodgers toss one-hitter in victory over Mets

After announcing that Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers’ best pitcher for the first half of the season, would miss more time than expected with a shoulder injury, manager Dave Roberts fielded a couple of follow-up queries Friday afternoon.

One was about the team’s seemingly increased need for starting pitching help at the trade deadline. The other was about an equally important hope for other starters — Julio Urías and Tony Gonsolin chief among them — to rediscover top form down the stretch.

The former, Roberts downplayed, noting all contending teams desire pitching this time of year.

The latter, however, he couldn’t emphasize enough.

“It would certainly be helpful,” Roberts said. “I think they’re both healthy and they both threw the heck out of it in their last turn. I’m looking forward to the next couple of days.”

Hours later, Roberts was treated to a show by Urías, who blanked the New York Mets over six shutout, one-hit innings in the Dodgers’ 6-0 victory at Citi Field.

It was a second straight sign of promise from Urías, the left-hander following up a six-inning, two-run start prior to the All-Star break with what was unquestionably his best start of the season.

And when Roberts approached Urías at the end of his start to shake his hand, the 26-year-old’s response was telling.

“Vacation is over,” Urías told his manager.

“The way he threw the baseball,” Roberts added later, “he was in complete command.”

After giving up a double to lead off the first inning, Urías mowed through a high-priced, underperforming Mets lineup the rest of the way. He retired 18 of the final 21 hitters he faced, the three exceptions coming on a walk, hit batter and catcher’s interference. He struck out seven while throwing only 85 pitches, exiting with a four-run lead.

The Dodgers (52-38) did most of their damage in the fifth. After being held hitless through four frames by Justin Verlander, who was one of L.A.’s top targets last winter before signing with the Mets (42-49), three straight walks by the bottom of the lineup set up Mookie Betts for an RBI single and Freddie Freeman for an RBI double.

J.D. Martinez, right, celebrates with teammate David Peralta after hitting a solo home run in the Dodgers' 6-0 win.

J.D. Martinez, right, celebrates with teammate David Peralta after hitting a solo home run in the Dodgers’ 6-0 win over the New York Mets at Citi Field on Friday.

(Mary Altaffer / Associated Press)

The Dodgers tacked on another run in the sixth, on a single from Miguel Rojas. J.D. Martinez added a home run in the seventh, moments after Urías completed his one-hit masterpiece.

For most of the first half of the season, Urías looked little like the Cy Young contender he’d been the previous two years.

During the opening two months, he had a 4.39 ERA and the most home runs given up in the majors. Then, he missed six weeks with a hamstring strain, further derailing his final season before free agency.

His return from the injured list wasn’t encouraging, a five-run, three-inning start against last-place Kansas City on July 1.

Since then, however, he has been lights out, giving the Dodgers the kind of ace-caliber performances they’ll need from him the rest of the way — regardless of whether they make a big trade deadline splash.

“I haven’t done a good job of attacking and throwing first-pitch strikes,” Urías said in Spanish. “I think I’ve missed that this season and I think these last two starts, I’ve made a lot of adjustments to fix that.”

Urías pointed to Friday’s leadoff double, which came on a hanging slurve Brandon Nimmo hammered off the top of the wall in right, as an important early example.

“I watched it on video and you can honestly see that I didn’t make my adjustment,” Urías said. “[From] then, you could see that I made those adjustments and something clicked, to where I feel like myself on top of the mound.”

It was another reminder of his improved mentality, as well, rediscovering a confidence he lacked amid his early-season struggles.

“What I’ve been looking for is to not necessarily fight with my mechanics, but just understand that you’re going to miss your spot but then you have to make the necessary adjustment,” Urías said. “I think it’s easy to let that spiral and throw three or four balls in a row, but it’s important to find the adjustment.”

Gonsolin is in a similar boat. After missing the opening month with a sprained ankle, then posting a 3.86 ERA through his first 13 starts (only four of which went six innings), the 2022 All-Star enters the second half with plenty of room to improve, especially as the current No. 2 starter with Kershaw sidelined.

Gonsolin will get his chance to stage a turnaround Saturday, hoping to build off improvements he flashed in a season-high 6 ⅔-inning start prior to the break.

On Friday, Urías gave him a template to follow, tapping back into his tantalizing talent with a long-awaited return to dominance.

“I was on the injured list for a while and now that I’m back, I feel like the vacation is over,” he reiterated to reporters. “It’s time to get to work.”