LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers, manager Dave Roberts said, just aren't quite synced up yet. When they pitch, they don't hit. When they hit, they don't pitch.The latter was the case on Friday night, when they spotted the D-backs a five-run lead and fell short of their first comeback win
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers, manager Dave Roberts said, just aren't quite synced up yet. When they pitch, they don't hit. When they hit, they don't pitch.
The latter was the case on Friday night, when they spotted the D-backs a five-run lead and fell short of their first comeback win of the year despite scoring five late runs, falling 8-7 for their 10th consecutive regular-season loss to Arizona. The 4-8 start is the worst for the Dodgers since 1994. They trail the first-place D-backs by 5 1/2 games, larger than any deficit they faced last year.
"It's not ideal," Roberts said of the start. "Not what we expected. We're playing good teams. We're just not synced up."
With home runs from Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger, Roberts' club nearly dug its way out of a hole created by pitcher Kenta Maeda, who looked like he hadn't pitched in 13 days -- which he hadn't -- because of scheduling quirks that prompted management last weekend to send him to the bullpen (he made one one-inning appearance). He pitched only 2 2/3 innings (tied for career shortest), walked the first batter of the inning twice, opened the floodgates with a throwing error and left 6 1/3 innings for the bullpen. Only two of the five runs charged to Maeda were earned.
"Possibly the one inning in 13 days got him," Roberts said. "It's a lot to throw on the plate of a player. From what we've been through, off-days and a rainout, to navigate through the rotation, Kenta competed. His stuff was fine, he wasn't sharp. Obviously, the throwing error changed the inning, and it just got away from him."
• Taylor belts another leadoff homer
In his previous start, Maeda was lights-out, 10 strikeouts in five scoreless innings. But because of the erratic scheduling, combined with his scheduled start last Friday being rained out in San Francisco and his dominance out of the bullpen last postseason, management felt it made sense to put him in the bullpen and try to keep the rest of the starting rotation on semi-regular rest.
"It was difficult getting myself situated in the game today," Maeda said of the adjustment needed after that much time off. "I think that's something I need to work on and change. For a starting pitcher, it's a difficult thing to do. In the third inning, everything started snowballing after my own mistake, and it was mistake after mistake and something that I regret."
Roberts noted the bright spots. Three runs in the seventh inning, chasing D-backs ace and former Dodger Zack Greinke, who battled back spasms. Two more runs in the eighth inning on pinch-hitter Chase Utley's fluky single through the box that would have been an inning-ending double-play until it hit the second-base bag and deflected into left field.
"There were at-bats we put together, there was some luck that extended an inning," Roberts said. "But I think to get Archie [Bradley] in the game and throw a lot of pitches was a good thing for us. To get the closer [Brad Boxberger] in a game we seemingly were out of was another positive, and our club showed some life."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Self-inflicted: Could be pitchers' fielding practice on Saturday for Maeda, who gloved Ketel Marte's comebacker with runners on first and second and no outs in the third inning and pulled Corey Seager off second base with a wide throw. The original out call was overturned on review, but an accurate throw and the Dodgers likely would have had a double play. The misplay led to a decisive four-run inning. Maeda started a 1-4-3 double-play in the first inning.
Good eye: Greinke, who walked only twice last season in 70 plate appearances, walked for the second time this year leading off the third inning, which turned into a four-run windfall. Greinke was singled to second by David Peralta, took third on Maeda's throwing error and scored on a Maeda wild pitch.
HE SAID IT
"I'm good. It ain't even nothing to write about. I'll be in there tomorrow." -- Matt Kemp, who slammed his knee into the fence chasing Ahmed's decisive homer in the eighth inning
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Roberts said he was aware that outfielder Alvin Toles suffered a hamstring injury playing for Triple-A Oklahoma City, but he did not know the severity. … Arizona's 10-3 start is the best in franchise history after 13 games.
After batting Yasiel Puig in injured Justin Turner's third spot in 10 of the first 11 games, Roberts moved hot-hitting Kemp there on Friday. He will probably be there again on Saturday, when Rich Hill starts against the D-backs' Taijuan Walker at 6:10 p.m. PT in Los Angeles. Hill is 1-5 with a 4.78 ERA against Arizona.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.