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Maeda reeling after allowing 4 D-backs homers

MLB.com @kengurnick

PHOENIX -- Kenta Maeda, who led the Dodgers last year in wins, starts and innings pitched, might not even make his next start after serving up four home runs in an 11-5 loss to the D-backs Saturday night that dropped Los Angeles to two games below .500 for the first time this season.

"We're definitely going to hang with him," manager Dave Roberts said. "We're going to talk and see what's best. Long term -- yes. Short term -- we'll have a conversation and see what's best for him."

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PHOENIX -- Kenta Maeda, who led the Dodgers last year in wins, starts and innings pitched, might not even make his next start after serving up four home runs in an 11-5 loss to the D-backs Saturday night that dropped Los Angeles to two games below .500 for the first time this season.

"We're definitely going to hang with him," manager Dave Roberts said. "We're going to talk and see what's best. Long term -- yes. Short term -- we'll have a conversation and see what's best for him."

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Roberts was more definitive about the importance of starting pitching if the Dodgers expect a fifth consecutive October of baseball. Arizona has scored 24 runs over the course of back-to-back games against the Dodgers for the first time since 2000.

"I believe you win, you sustain winning with starting pitching, and I think those guys know that," he said. "Have we pitched as well as we're going to? No. Each day the pulse -- whatever you want to call it -- starts with the starting pitchers. It's a big responsibility, those guys know it. We can't expect Clayton [Kershaw] to be the only guy to throw seven or eight innings. [Brandon McCarthy] has done a good job. That's why you have five starters and each day they have to give us a chance to win a baseball game. For me, that's what they sign up for. It's a big part of winning."

And the lack of it is a big part of the Dodgers' losing. The Dodgers are 3-8 when Kershaw and McCarthy don't start. Injuries have sidelined Rich Hill, Scott Kazmir and Brock Stewart. Management has kept Julio Urias off the Major League team to save innings. Hyun-Jin Ryu has understandably struggled coming off two years of injuries.

Maeda, however, was being counted on after winning 16 games in a workhorse debut season and finishing third in National League Rookie of the Year Award voting, even though his final two starts of the 2016 regular season and three disappointing postseason starts were red flags.

The club believed he wore down, and he spent the offseason strengthening his body, but so far he's lacked his signature command and he doesn't throw hard enough to get away with mistakes up and over the plate, which is where he was pitching the D-backs. Three of the homers came on fastballs.

Maeda insists he's physically fine, and Roberts suggested that he might be trying to throw too hard.

"If I had to say one thing is different, it's fastball command," Roberts said. "I don't know if it's physical. He might be trying to create more velocity and it's causing him to leak with the front side and miss up. My eyes tell me he's giving up way more fly balls in the air than typically. I see Kenta as a ground-ball pitcher, and I'm not seeing that."

After Friday night's bullpen debacle, the club needed quality innings from Maeda, not six runs and four homers in five innings.

"Lefties are hitting against me more than the righties, and I think I have to change my plan," Maeda said. "Since the results aren't there, maybe I'm a little rushing and being more result-oriented than process-oriented."

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

Los Angeles Dodgers, Kenta Maeda