LOS ANGELES -- Early in the season or late, home or away, the Dodgers have their hands full with the first-place D-backs.
They were defeated in Thursday night's opener of a four-game Dodger Stadium showdown, 3-1, on David Peralta's three-run homer, dropping two games back when they were aiming for a tie atop the National League West. Arizona has a 9-4 lead in the season series, which resumed for the first time since May 9.
The only Dodgers run scored on torrid Manny Machado's 33rd home run -- and seventh in the last 13 games -- with one out in the sixth inning that chased Robbie Ray (4-2), who earned his first win since June 27. The Dodgers struck out 15 times, four by league-leader Chris Taylor, and hit into three double plays.
The Dodgers' inability to turn a double play extended the fifth inning long enough for Peralta to break a scoreless tie with his shot off Rich Hill (6-5) over the right-field fence.
"They had a three-run homer. We had a solo home run. That was the difference in the game," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "We punched more than we have lately. Robbie Ray is a guy that does punch guys. He made pitches when he needed to. They beat us. We got beat."
Hill finished the fifth inning, was told by Roberts he was done for the night and expressed his frustration in the dugout.
"I made a poor decision on dropping down [my arm angle], I should have stayed over the top and it cost us the game," said Hill. "Also, giving up the hit to the pitcher frustrates me. Having that loss looms over us moving forward. These games are huge."
Peralta swung like he knew what was coming, which he sort of did.
"He was doing it [dropping down]. I mean, I watch video before the game and kind of know what he's been doing lately. He did it a couple times my first at-bat, and the second, too, and he got me twice, so I was aware," said Peralta. "He gave me a good pitch to hit, and I put on a good swing."
The L.A. offense was limited to Machado's solo shot after helping reel off a five-game win streak against last-place teams from San Diego and Texas. The Dodgers were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
The Dodgers' strategy was to run up Ray's pitch count, as none of the first 20 batters swung at a first pitch from the lefty.
"We got his pitch count up, but we didn't execute a couple times with runners in scoring position," said Machado. "Didn't get that big hit. Got to give [Ray] props, he's a good pitcher and we didn't execute."
Ray started the winning rally with the hit that frustrated Hill. The D-backs pitcher led off the fifth with a soft single to left and was singled to second by Steven Souza Jr.A.J. Pollock hit a potential double-play ball to third baseman Justin Turner, but Turner's throw was wide and second baseman James Dozier had to make a nice stretch just to get one out.
"We give up a flare base hit to Robbie Ray, third hit of the year, then fail to turn the double play," said Roberts. "Any time you give extra outs or give away outs, obviously, the game changes. Yeah, you look back on that game and there were things we could have done a little bit better."
The missed chance on the double play proved devastating. After Paul Goldschmidt fouled out for the second out, Peralta 3-ironed his 26th homer over the right-field fence with a launch angle of only 17 degrees but an exit velocity of 107.7 mph.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
After Machado's home run sent the the D-backs to the bullpen, Kemp greeted Brad Ziegler with a one-out single and the Dodgers sent up Cody Bellinger to bat for Kiké Hernandez. Bellinger crushed a 103.7-mph linenr right at first baseman Goldschmidt, who stepped on first to double off Kemp and end the inning.
"It was a tough one, because I loved the matchup," said Roberts. "That could have easily been first and third or second and third, whatever, but it would have changed the game. He hit it hard, unfortunately it turned into a double play."
HE SAID IT
"It's been an inconsistent year for him. He really hasn't found his consistent stroke and comfort level, and it shows. We still have 30 games left and we'll continue to run him out there." -- Roberts, on believing in Taylor despite plans to sit him on Friday night against Zack Greinke
Hyun-Jin Ryu faces former teammate Greinke and the D-backs in Friday night's 7:10 PT matchup at Dodger Stadium. Ryu gave up 11 hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings against the Padres in his last start, but he struck out eight. He seems fully recovered from a groin injury, and he's swinging a mean bat, with a pair of hits against San Diego.