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Dodgers' bats stumble in opener of WS rematch

@kengurnick
July 13, 2019

BOSTON -- If you missed Friday night’s Dodgers game, just replay last year’s World Series. That’s what it looked like, an 8-1 loss to the Red Sox that had plenty of similarities to last year’s five-game October wipeout and extended the Dodgers’ current losing streak to four. Including the World

BOSTON -- If you missed Friday night’s Dodgers game, just replay last year’s World Series.

That’s what it looked like, an 8-1 loss to the Red Sox that had plenty of similarities to last year’s five-game October wipeout and extended the Dodgers’ current losing streak to four. Including the World Series, the Dodgers are 1-8 in Fenway Park.

Box score

So, as numbers go, the Red Sox still have the Dodgers’.

But manager Dave Roberts preferred to credit opposing starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez (10-4), who struck out 10 in seven innings. Rodriguez (10-4), the first of three Red Sox left-handers lined up to start this weekend, allowed a second-inning home run to Alex Verdugo for the Dodgers’ only run. They have scored seven runs during the losing streak.

“Tonight, their starting pitcher had a really good night and they got a lead and kept adding on,” said Roberts. “We’ve just got to put some at-bats together. We’re not walking as much as we have when we do score runs; it’s cyclical. We’ve just got to ride this out and we’ll be fine.”

Maybe, but this wasn’t supposed to happen to the runaway leaders of the National League West, who came out of the All-Star break with the arrival of reinforcements. Corey Seager, David Freese and A.J. Pollock returned from the injured list, but the trio went a combined 1-for-11 with a walk and four strikeouts.

The Dodgers had five hits -- three by players who weren’t with them for the World Series -- in 32 at-bats, a .156 average, and struck out 12 times. In the World Series last year, they hit .180. Boston was 8-for-31 on Friday night, but seven of the hits went for extra bases, including home runs by Rafael Devers, Christian Vazquez and Xander Bogaerts.

The Dodgers’ offensive struggles at Fenway Park were a continuation of what they showed in three losses at home to the Padres last weekend, with fewer extended at-bats, fewer walks and longer appearances by opposing starting pitchers.

The resulting run drought has left less margin for error for the starting pitchers. The first two home runs on Friday night were allowed by Kenta Maeda (7-6 and winless since May 31). Devers’ came on an 0-2 pitch in the first inning after he fouled a bunt attempt. Vazquez’s home run was on a 3-2 pitch to end a nine-pitch at-bat in the second inning. Maeda has allowed 16 home runs this year, compared to 13 for all of 2018.

The Bogaerts homer came off J.T. Chargois, who inherited two runners after a one-hour rain delay in what became a five-run seventh inning for Boston and included a defensive mistake on an infield single and an errant throw by catcher Austin Barnes.

Barnes also was allowed to bat in the seventh inning with two on, one out and the Dodgers trailing, 3-1. He struck out for the second time of the night. Barnes' current slump now 3-for-34, and his season average .203; meanwhile, top catching prospect Will Smith hit two homers on Friday night for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

“C.T. [Chris Taylor] is probably your only option right there,” said Roberts. “[Barnes] had a couple good swings the previous at-bat, and I just felt, right there, give him the opportunity to drive in a run.”

Barnes doesn’t need to be reminded of his struggles.

“I’ve just got to keep going, keep grinding,” Barnes said. “Been in situations like this before. Focus on the every day and keep going to get better.”

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