Clayton Kershaw blows lead, then Dodgers' bullpen takes loss to Diamondbacks

Jorge Castillo, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

PHOENIX -- For nearly three weeks, from the time they left Chase Field after an 11-inning, walk-off loss June 5 to their return to the desert Monday, the Los Angeles Dodgers' bullpen was the best in baseball by at least one metric.

Their 2.33 ERA in that span was more than a run better than the next-best team. It was an encouraging, if diminutive, sample size.

That stretch of success ended in the eighth inning of their 8-5 loss Monday. The Arizona Diamondbacks tallied four runs in the frame against Dylan Floro to bust open a tie game and snap the Dodgers' six-game winning streak.

Floro surrendered singles to the first three batters he faced. The string was capped by a go-ahead RBI single from David Peralta, who delivered the walk-off hit the last time the teams played here. Nick Ahmed's sacrifice fly and a two-run single by former Dodger Tim Locastro completed the outburst.

The Dodgers (54-26) registered a run in the ninth, but had chances to construct a lead before Floro's struggles. Instead, they went two for 11 with runners in scoring position and left nine on base.

The contest began as a duel between Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, who once topped the Dodgers' rotation together. Early fireworks soiled the matchup. Greinke was charged with four runs -- three in the first inning -- on seven hits across six-plus innings. He struck out six and walked one. Kershaw surrendered four runs -- all between the first and second innings -- on seven hits with two strikeouts and a walk. The four runs matched the most he's given up in 13 starts this season.

Greinke began the night with a 2.91 ERA in 16 starts, maintaining his presence among the best pitchers in the National League four years removed from winning the Cy Young Award in his final season as a Dodger. That was far from a guarantee after his opening day debacle in Los Angeles. That afternoon, the right-hander surrendered seven runs in 3 2/3 innings. He gave up four home runs. The Dodgers finished with a franchise-record eight homers in a blowout.

Grienke allowed 27 runs over his next 98 1/3 innings -- good for a 2.47 ERA -- before Monday. The Dodgers regenerated tumult upon meeting him again. Within a few minutes, Los Angeles built a 3-0 lead. Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor each supplied an RBI double and Max Muncy contributed a run-scoring groundout.


The cushion did not last long on Kershaw's watch. Christian Walker whacked a game-tying, three-run home run with two outs in the first inning for his third homer in six plate appearances against the left-hander. It was the 11th home run Kershaw allowed this season, but just the second with two runners on base.

More two-out trouble plagued Kershaw in the fourth inning when Greinke smashed a 106-mph line drive over the left-field wall to give Arizona a 4-3 edge. It was the third home run for Greinke, who emerged Monday with a .309 batting average and 1.009 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 41 plate appearances this season.

The pitchers exchanged zeroes over the next four innings, overcoming danger in the sixth frame. The Dodgers threatened with runners on first and second and no outs. The Diamondbacks (40-40) followed with two on and one out. Neither team could push a run across.

Greinke surrendered a leadoff single to Kyle Garlick, pinch-hitting for Kershaw, in the seventh inning, which prompted his departure and sparked more peril for Arizona. Alex Verdugo singled and the Diamondbacks intentionally walked Bellinger for the second time to load the bases for Muncy. The strategy backfired. Yoshihiso Hirano walked Muncy on four pitches and the game was tied. Hirano fell behind 3-1 but recovered to strike out Taylor looking on a fastball and escape with the bases filled.

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