Jansen stumbles in 9th; Dodgers fall in 15th
Closer allows 3-run homer as LA drops wild one to D-backs
PHOENIX -- The Dodgers burned through their entire bullpen Monday night, pressed Wilmer Font into a fifth inning of relief and had Kenta Maeda primed for his debut as a Major League outfielder, all because of Kenley Jansen.
Such is the fallout when a closer of which so much is expected suddenly is mortal, as Jansen has now been twice in four days. The right-hander with pinpoint command issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a game-tying three-run homer to Chris Owings in the bottom of the ninth of a marathon the Dodgers went on to lose to the D-backs in 15 innings, 8-7, Monday night at Chase Field.
Already scrambling to cover for the absence of No. 3 hitter Justin Turner, the Dodgers have a once-automatic closer who has pitched twice in the first five games, suffering a loss, a blown save and allowing a pair of home runs.
Jansen blew only one of 42 save opportunities in the regular season last year. He allowed only five home runs in 65 appearances. His fastball picked up two mph in velocity from Friday night, following a part-time Spring Training that included a couple of days off with a tight hamstring.
Jansen said he's healthy and is working through some mechanical kinks with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt. Manager Dave Roberts said, from everything he hears from his staff, Jansen is "100 percent healthy."
"Yeah, I'm fine. Slow start," said Jansen. "Owings got me. It stinks, but nobody's going to feel sorry for me. Nobody wants to get beat, nobody wants to blow saves, nobody wants to lose games. Today stinks, it stinks to see Wilmer go five innings, he doesn't deserve that loss. It happens. What can I do? I just have to bounce back and help the Dodgers win tomorrow."
Despite carrying an eight-man bullpen, the Dodgers need immediate relief help, meaning roster moves are inevitable. Brock Stewart would give the Dodgers multi-inning coverage if he's called up. It's unclear how the Dodgers would make room for him, but it won't be by sending down Font, who is out of options.
What he did was virtually heroic on a night when the Dodgers had more than their share of standouts. Font, a starter most of his career, threw 74 pitches in this game after throwing 21 in one inning on Sunday night. Font now leads the club in pitches thrown this year, and he said he'll be ready to climb back on the mound in two days.
"You don't know what to expect when you're the last guy in the 'pen, and for him to step up like he did, such a gutty performance, he picked up our entire ballclub," said Roberts.
By the 15th, Roberts had used his entire bullpen and bench. He said if the Dodgers hadn't taken a 7-6 lead in the top of the inning, they would have used a position player to pitch and put Maeda, their best shagger, in the outfield.
The Dodgers got that lead on a Chase Utley single that scored Cody Bellinger from second. A half-inning earlier, Yasiel Puig made another of his breathtaking throws, catching A.J. Pollock's fly ball in the right-field corner and cutting down Ketel Marte at second base trying to tag up and advance into scoring position.
But after striking out Owings to lead off the 15th, Font hit the wall, allowing a single to Jake Lamb, a tying double to Nick Ahmed and, after an intentional walk to Alex Avila, the game-winning single to pinch-hitter Jeff Mathis, who said he was going in to pitch in the 16th if he hadn't won the game.
"I was looking to see if his stuff held, and his stuff held, but you could see the mental fatigue out there," Roberts said of Font.
Although the home run off Jansen extended the game, the early parade of relievers was the result of Hyun-Jin Ryu's inability to protect a three-run lead. He walked five and was gone after 3 2/3 innings.
"In this ballpark," said Roberts, "free passes are hard to overcome."
Despite that, the Dodgers took the lead on a home run from John Forsythe, Turner's replacement at third base, who came into the game 0-for-10. He shared early honors with catcher Yasmani Grandal, who homered in the first inning and reached base five times.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Puig defense: Puig was quiet at the plate, but his glove work in the 14th spoke volumes. With Marte on first, Paul Goldschmidt lifted a drive to deep right, Puig went back to the wall and jumped to catch the ball. While the ball probably would not have left the yard, the catch still prevented Marte from advancing. Then, when Pollock hit a drive to right, Puig once again caught the ball on the warning track and this time fired to second in time to get Marte trying to tag up.
Deja vu for Walker: Last October, the Dodgers roughed up Taijuan Walker for four runs in Game 1 of the National League Division Series en route to a three-game sweep. On Monday, the Dodgers started fast again, with Grandal's first homer of the season following an RBI single by Corey Seager. Grandal went 3-for-6 with two walks, falling a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
"Clayton [Kershaw] starts tomorrow, [Alex] Wood threw a bullpen today, Rich [Hill] threw yesterday and Maeda goes on Wednesday. I thought about using a starter, but it just didn't make a whole lot of sense." -- Roberts, on not using a starting pitcher late in the game
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At five hours and 46 minutes, this was the longest game in Chase Field history.
Dodgers: Center fielder Chris Taylor is expected to return to the lineup and the leadoff spot Tuesday night after getting his first game off on Monday, when Joc Pederson started in center field. Kershaw will square off against the D-backs' Zack Godley in the 6:40 p.m. PT matchup at Chase Field.
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