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Dodgers drop series in lopsided loss to Astros

Maeda tagged for 5 runs, while lineup musters 3 hits in shutout
MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers pushed the Astros to the limit in last year's seven-game World Series, but they're one loss away from getting swept in their Interleague series after being trounced on three hits Saturday night, 14-0.

It was the franchise's worst shutout loss at home since the Brooklyn Robins lost to the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field on July 22, 1923, by the same score, according to STATS. It also was the largest margin of defeat for the Dodgers since a 16-2 loss at Colorado on Sept. 17, 2014.

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LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers pushed the Astros to the limit in last year's seven-game World Series, but they're one loss away from getting swept in their Interleague series after being trounced on three hits Saturday night, 14-0.

It was the franchise's worst shutout loss at home since the Brooklyn Robins lost to the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field on July 22, 1923, by the same score, according to STATS. It also was the largest margin of defeat for the Dodgers since a 16-2 loss at Colorado on Sept. 17, 2014.

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"They've beaten us in every facet of the game these two days," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "To find a silver lining tonight ain't going to happen. The game's over, I guess that's the silver lining."

Slumping Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda was charged with five runs in 5 1/3 innings, four of them coming the third time through the lineup, while the Dodgers offense again was overmatched. And this time, Justin Verlander had nothing to do with it. The Astros turned it into a rout with nine runs the last two innings off relievers John Axford and Zac Rosscup, the former making his debut, the latter coming off the disabled list.

Video: HOU@LAD: Maeda strikes out Gurriel in the 4th

With the 21-5 blowout win Thursday night the outlier, the Dodgers have lost five of their last seven games, while scoring only four runs in the losses, and have dropped back into second place behind Arizona. In two losses to Houston they've scored one run on seven hits.

Houston only got four innings from starting pitcher Lance McCullers Jr., who was removed with right elbow discomfort. But as Astros manager AJ Hinch did in Game 7 on November 1, he followed a short start from McCullers with Brad Peacock and the Dodgers couldn't tell the difference.

After striking out 16 times on Friday (14 by Verlander), the Dodgers fanned 12 more times and couldn't get a runner past second base until the eighth inning. Roberts loaded the lineup with right-handed hitters against McCullers, a right-hander who had been more successful this year against left-handed hitters, but he struck out five in four innings.

"We're going to walk, we're going to slug, we're going to punch," said Roberts, explaining his club's predictable tendencies. "That's not all you want, but there are times we're going to strike out. It's not going to get any easier tomorrow with [Astros starter] Gerrit Cole. We've got to find a way to get some baserunners."

Maeda kept it close until he was chased in a four-run sixth inning that included doubles by former Dodger Josh Reddick to center, Yuli Gurriel inside third base and Tyler White with a flare to center. A walk to Alex Bregman didn't help, but Roberts said Maeda pitched better than the line looks.

Marwin Gonzalez got the scoring started for the Astros with a second-inning homer to center field. Gonzalez broke Dodgers hearts in Game 2 of the World Series with a tying ninth-inning home run off closer Kenley Jansen.

McCullers kept the Dodgers off the board through the first four innings, but couldn't start the fifth. He was on the mound for warmups when Hinch brought a trainer with him and returned to the dugout with McCullers, who beat the Dodgers in Game 3 of the World Series and started Game 7. Walking to the dugout, McCullers pointed with his glove at his right arm near the elbow.

Rosscup, activated from the disabled list before the game, allowed a three-run homer to Reddick in a seven-run eighth inning and a two-run blast to Jake Marisnick in the ninth.

SOUND SMART
Axford, acquired Tuesday, had a nightmare debut, charged with six runs in one-third of an inning with a pair of walks and a hit batter. His Dodgers ERA is 162.00

"First outing in a week, I think there's something to that," said Roberts. "Part of where the command was. This is an unfair kind of look."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Maeda has allowed four or more runs in his last four starts. In that span he is 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA.

HE SAID IT
"It got ugly real quickly." -- Roberts, on game that was 1-0 going into the sixth inning

UP NEXT
Walker Buehler will make his first career appearance against the Astros in Sunday's 1:10 p.m. PT start, opposing Cole. Cody Bellinger, Yasmani Grandal, Joc Pederson and Max Muncy are likely to return to the lineup after sitting against reverse-split right-hander McCullers on Saturday.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers