CLEVELAND (AP) — When Kole Calhoun got back to the dugout, Guardians manager Terry Francona was waiting for him with a fist bump and slap on the back.
This home run celebration meant a little more to both.
Calhoun’s towering three-run homer capped a five-run seventh inning as Cleveland rallied for an 8-3 win on Tuesday night and cooled off the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost for just the third time in August.
Calhoun, who was acquired earlier this month in a trade from the NL West leaders for cash, connected off reliever Caleb Ferguson as the Guardians came from behind to stun baseball’s hottest team.
The shot came toward the end of a day that began with Francona hinting that he may retire at the end of the season. Calhoun said Cleveland’s players were aware of the speculation surrounding their revered 64-year-old manager.
“I’ll tell you what, he is loved up and down through this organization and I could see it from the outside,” said Calhoun, who has a hit in 11 of his 13 games with Cleveland. “I mean it’s easy to know why.
“And so if this is it, I hope we can give him a hell of a ride going down the stretch here.”
The Dodgers are 17-3 in August and 25-10 since the All-Star break.
Oscar Gonzalez also homered for the Guardians, who trailed 3-2 entering the seventh after being held to six hits over 6 1/3 innings by Dodgers rookie starter Bobby Miller (7-3).
But Steven Kwan and José Ramírez hit two-out RBI singles off Ferguson and Calhoun, who spent roughly two months this season stuck at Triple-A Oklahoma City with the Dodgers, hit the left-hander’s first pitch barely over the wall in right to make it 7-3.
As he rounded first, Calhoun watched his ball disappear over the wall before pumping his fist and letting out a scream.
“That was cool,” Calhoun said. “I was with these guys for a little over two months and so that one felt pretty good.”
Another Dodgers castoff, Guardians starter Noah Syndergaard, also had a satisfying night against Los Angeles.
Syndergaard, who was traded by the Dodgers to Cleveland on July 26 for infielder Amed Rosario, allowed three runs and four hits in six innings.
“It’s just kind of like a bittersweet moment, just because I forged a lot of friends and brothers over there and they have a lot of really good dudes over there,” Syndergaard said.
Sam Hentges (2-2), Trevor Stephan and Emmanuel Clase each pitched one inning as the Guardians held the Dodgers’ power-packed lineup to just six hits.
Obviously, the Dodgers know Syndergaard well and it didn’t take long for them to square up some of his pitches.
Mookie Betts, who came in batting .379 since June 28, opened the first with a single and stole second before Dodgers catcher Will Smith pounded Syndergaard’s first pitch into the left-field bleachers for his 17th homer.
Betts got things going again in the third when he singled, had another steal and scored on Freddie Freeman’s single.
The Guardians closed within 3-2 in the fourth when Gonzalez connected for his second homer — on an 0-2 pitch from Miller — and an RBI single by rookie Gabriel Arias.
And Syndergaard settled in, holding the Dodgers in check before the Guardians rallied.
“He throws strikes,” LA manager Dave Roberts said. “He changes speeds, and in those middle innings, he was throwing a lot of changeups to our left-handed hitters and we couldn’t stay back and get the ball in the air. Noah did a nice job.”
Miller, who retired the final 18 Milwaukee batters he faced on Aug. 15, set down Cleveland’s first eight before allowing a single.
He’s the first Dodgers rookie to retire that many in a row since the team moved to Los Angeles in 1958. Orel Hershiser retired 23 straight in 1984.
Roberts made his big-league debut with Cleveland in 1999, and has vivid memories of walking into the team’s clubhouse in Tampa for the first time.
“Robbie Alomar, David Justice, Manny (Ramirez), Jim Thome, Kenny Lofton, a room full of All-Stars and they just welcomed me like a little brother,” he said. “I hit at the top of the order and we blew out the Devil Rays.”
His first game coincided with Hall of Famer Wade Boggs getting his 3,000th hit.
“Yeah,” he said with a laugh. “That was for me.”
Dodgers: DH J.D. Martinez will be out at least a few weeks after being placed on the IL with groin tightness. The All-Star slugger Martinez recently received an epidural injection for a back issue, but was still having problems on some swings. Roberts said Martinez will cease all activities for a week before being re-evaluated.
Guardians: RHP Cal Quantrill (shoulder inflammation) will make another rehab start on Saturday for Triple-A Columbus before he’s activated. Quantrill hasn’t pitched for the Guardians since July 6. He’ll likely rejoin the rotation during an upcoming trip to Toronto and Minnesota.
Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw (11-4, 2.48 ERA) makes his fourth career start against Cleveland. He’ll face Guardians rookie Xzavion Curry (3-1, 3.24), who allowed just one run in six innings against Detroit last week.