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MLB News

LA loses NL West lead heading into final series

Dodgers stung by 3 D-backs homers, lead for 2nd Wild Card
September 27, 2018

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers have a day off on Thursday to recover, then a three-game series in San Francisco to salvage the season after tumbling out of first place with a 7-2 loss on Wednesday night to the D-backs, who slugged three home runs.The Dodgers were 2 1/2 games up

PHOENIX -- The Dodgers have a day off on Thursday to recover, then a three-game series in San Francisco to salvage the season after tumbling out of first place with a 7-2 loss on Wednesday night to the D-backs, who slugged three home runs.
The Dodgers were 2 1/2 games up in the National League West with nine to play but now are a half-game behind the streaking Rockies after losing to former teammate Zack Greinke (15-11), who overcame a shaky beginning the way Dodgers All-Star starter Thomas Stripling (8-6) could not.
"As far as getting to the postseason, we control our own fate. We've got to win baseball games," said manager Dave Roberts. "Those guys [Giants] are going to bring their best stuff against us. There's a little bit of our backs are to the wall. I know we're going to come out and play on Friday. We'll be ready to go. We're a dangerous team. We believe in ourselves. Not how we scripted it, but now our focus has to turn to the Giants."
Imagining crazy tiebreaker scenarios
The Dodgers, who now lead for the NL's second Wild Card spot, still can win the division, tie the Rockies for first and force a tiebreaker, earn a Wild Card berth, tie for a Wild Card berth and force a tiebreaker or go home Sunday night, depending on various scenarios, but everything got more complicated when they lost the last two games of this series to finish 8-11 against Arizona this season. Greinke, who allowed two runs in six innings, is 3-1 against the Dodgers this year.

Roberts insisted the Dodgers did not come into this series flat.
"We did have chances yesterday and didn't get it done," he said. "Today, the one at-bat or hit eluded us. When you put up two runs in this ballpark, it looks like you're kind of flat, but I know coming in we were not flat, I know that."
Stripling, who had lasted only 3 1/3 innings each of his previous three starts coming off a back injury, couldn't get out of the second inning this time. He had been given the start to avoid putting Rich Hill on the mound against a lineup that had roughed up the lefty this year.
"I thought he was throwing the ball really well in the first inning," said Roberts of Stripling. "In the second, he couldn't put guys away. He didn't seem to have anything to get those guys out."
The short start left extra work for a Dodgers bullpen that allowed seven runs and four homers in 11 1/3 innings over the three-game series.
"Today was a struggle from the start," said Stripling. "Just couldn't put anyone away. I think about the All-Star break, two different stints on the DL, not going to make excuses but haven't had any outings to build confidence to the next outing. Tough when you're trying to help a team win and you can't get through two innings. That stinks."
The Dodgers trailed only 3-2 when Stripling left. Relievers Pedro Baez and Josh Fields kept the game close until the fifth inning, when A.J. Pollock, who had tripled earlier, slugged a three-run homer off Scott Alexander.

Greinke didn't get out of the first inning without trailing, as the Dodgers strung two-out singles by Player Page for Max Muncy, Manny Machado and Cody Bellinger for a run. Stripling helped himself in the second. Yasmani Grandal led off with a double and Stripling singled up the middle one out later to score Grandal, withstanding a review of the call at the plate.
September callup Socrates Brito got that run back for the D-backs leading off the bottom of the second with his first home run of the year. Pollock followed with his triple off the left-field fence and was doubled home by Nick Ahmed to tie the game at 2.
One out later, Greinke returned the favor to Stripling with his RBI single up the middle for a 3-2 lead. Ketel Marte singled Greinke to second, both advanced on Eduardo Escobar's flyout to right fielder Yasiel Puig and David Peralta's walk loaded the bases and ended Stripling's night. Baez entered and struck out Paul Goldschmidt to prevent further damage.

The Dodgers bullpen restored order, but only temporarily. Alexander, who lately has been a lefty specialist, allowed a leadoff single in the fifth inning to switch-hitter Escobar. With one out, Goldschmidt smashed a 104.5-mph grounder off third baseman Justin Turner for an infield single, and Pollock added the three-run homer one out later to create breathing room for Greinke.
"I just felt Scott has been in those situations and thought he was throwing the ball well and it just didn't work out," said Roberts.
Turner's thumb was swollen after the game as a result of Goldschmidt's hit, but X-rays were negative and he said, "I'm fine."

Trailing, 3-2, in the top of the third inning, the Dodgers had the bases loaded against Greinke with one out and Puig up. On a 1-0 fastball, Puig lined a 99.9-mph bullet that shortstop Ahmed caught and Grandal ended the inning with a groundout.
"Look at that at-bat by Puig, the ball was hit really well, right at Ahmed," said Roberts. "Kind of changed the game right there. We had Greinke on the ropes and he settled in after that."
Goldschmidt has been scuffling at the plate for the D-backs, and Bellinger made his night a little tougher by robbing him of extra bases in the seventh inning with a 4-star catch, as rated by Statcast™. Bellinger ran 83 feet in 4.7 seconds, a 29.2 ft/sec sprint speed, sliding on the warning track to make the grab.

"Just get prepared to win a game on Friday, nothing else you can do. We still have to take care of our business. We have to win games in San Francisco, that feels the same." -- Turner
The Dodgers' second run had to withstand a challenge by Arizona. Grandal, who led off the second inning with a double, scored on Stripling's one-out single up the middle despite a strong throw home from center fielder Pollock. Plate umpire Mark Ripperger's safe call stood after the replay official couldn't definitively determine whether Grandal's slide beat catcher Jeff Mathis' tag.

Hyun-Jin Ryu opens the final series of the regular season at 7:15 p.m. PT on Friday night at AT&T Park against the Giants and Madison Bumgarner. Ryu hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his 14 starts, and he's allowed two earned runs in 11 2/3 innings over two starts against San Francisco this year.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for since 2001.