Wood struggles with long ball against Rays

After allowing one HR in first five starts, lefty gives up three on Wednesday

May 5th, 2016

ST. PETESBURG -- When the offense goes 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, it's hard to blame the Dodgers' 8-5 loss to the Rays entirely on starting pitcher Alex Wood.

But that's where the postgame focus was Wednesday night. Manager Dave Roberts cited matchups for his shuffling the starting rotation to get right-hander Kenta Maeda starting Friday in Toronto and the left-handed Wood against the Rays on Wednesday.

Wood served up three homers to right-handed hitters Brandon Guyer, Steven Souza Jr. and Steve Pearce, the last one a three-run shot in the sixth inning to break a 2-2 tie. Tampa added three runs the next inning off an erratic Pedro Baez, and the Dodgers had to settle for a split of the two-game set.

Wood was coming off his best start of the year against the Padres, but he's now 1-3 with a 5.18 ERA, and the Dodgers haven't won consecutive starts of his since he was acquired from Atlanta last July. The inconsistency last year was blamed on an undisclosed right ankle injury, but Wood said a mechanical adjustment he implemented two starts back is working.

"I felt last start and this start as good as I have in a long time," Wood said. "It's working pretty good for the most part. The mistakes I made, they put it out of the park, and that doesn't usually happen to me. I felt like I was really good tonight, minus the homers."

Wood, a ground ball pitcher, had allowed only one home run in his other five starts this year. The third one he allowed to the Rays resulted in his exit with no outs in the sixth -- one batter after a throwing error by sub third baseman Charlie Culberson -- and Wood was annoyed enough with the hook that he needed a dugout meeting with Roberts and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt.

"Just a weird deal, I thought I was throwing the ball really well," said Wood. "Obviously, you want to stay in, especially at 78 pitches. But Doc [Roberts] is sitting there with everybody grinding, and he's making the best decisions for the club, and obviously I'm going to support it at the end of the day."

"For me," Roberts said, "it was just more of letting him know at that point in time, a guy just hit a homer off him, and I just felt at that point Louis Coleman had a better chance to get him out."

Wood said he doesn't pay attention to his home-and-away splits, although it's hard not to. He has a 1.29 ERA at home this year and an 8.05 ERA on the road. Last year with the Dodgers, he had a 2.41 ERA at Dodger Stadium and 5.70 ERA on the road.

"I didn't know the home and road splits, but even today, the three mistakes he made, when they're hit out of the ballpark, they're costly," said Roberts. "In that situation, down three runs in the sixth with no outs recorded, I had a decision to make to keep us in the game. But he's throwing considerably better than he was in the first three starts."