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Struggling Dodgers in unfamiliar territory

MLB.com @kengurnick

PHOENIX -- Are the Dodgers merely in a little rough patch after nearly five months of the best baseball in recent history, or is their first four-game losing streak in more than a year an ominous trend, or are they just the victim of a cover jinx?

These and more theories are hot Internet topics now that the Dodgers are in a mini-tailspin after Wednesday night's 6-4 loss to the D-backs. With Corey Seager and his sore elbow still out of the starting lineup, the return of Cody Bellinger from the disabled list wasn't enough to counter three home runs allowed by Hyun-Jin Ryu in a discouraging four-inning start.

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PHOENIX -- Are the Dodgers merely in a little rough patch after nearly five months of the best baseball in recent history, or is their first four-game losing streak in more than a year an ominous trend, or are they just the victim of a cover jinx?

These and more theories are hot Internet topics now that the Dodgers are in a mini-tailspin after Wednesday night's 6-4 loss to the D-backs. With Corey Seager and his sore elbow still out of the starting lineup, the return of Cody Bellinger from the disabled list wasn't enough to counter three home runs allowed by Hyun-Jin Ryu in a discouraging four-inning start.

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The loss cut the Dodgers' huge lead over Arizona to 17 games, but that's four fewer games than it was on Friday. The Dodgers are 2-5 since Sports Illustrated's cover asked whether they were: "Best. Team. Ever?"

"Up to this point, we've played very good baseball and had guys step up and be the stopper, whether it's two or three games, so this is unchartered territory for this ballclub," said manager Dave Roberts. "It starts with the starting pitching. The last couple of nights, we didn't have that good start out of the gate and we got behind the 8-ball. We're looking for a good one from Kenta [Maeda] tomorrow."

The four-game losing streak has come against Milwaukee and Arizona, the latter in position for one National League Wild Card berth and the former pulling into contention for the other. Roberts said it's not a coincidence.

"They're playing for a lot right now, and you see that. You see the energy and intent," said Roberts. "For us, there's no letdown, we're competing. We just have to get the good start out of that guy tomorrow. We've been on the wrong side of the win-loss the last four games, but we're not going to read too much into it."

Video: LAD@ARI: Roberts on Ryu, four-game losing streak

The D-backs have the added incentive of a growing dislike throughout the organization for the Dodgers, dating back at least to the Dodgers division-clinching celebration in the Chase Field swimming pool in 2013.

So, with Arizona starter Robbie Ray buzzing the chin of Bellinger in his first at-bat, hitting Chase Utley with a breaking ball in the seventh and then reliever Andrew Chafin drilling Bellinger in the side during the Dodgers' three-run eighth, future fireworks wouldn't be a surprise.

Speaking of Dodgers-D-backs fireworks, did we mention that Zack Greinke starts Wednesday?

"Pitchers got to pitch inside, we get that," said Roberts. "I don't think Chafin, in that situation, is intentionally trying to hit our player. Chase was hit with a slider. J.T. [Justin Turner] was hit last night, he's on the plate, so we understand. But there is a point where you don't like your players getting hit. So, if you are going to pitch inside, there is a different between pitching with effect as opposed to pitching in to then hit players. Tonight, I know there was no intent."

The Dodgers' offense consisted of a solo home run and bases-loaded walk by Curtis Granderson and a clutch two-out single by Yasiel Puig, who ended the game limping because of a sore right quad.

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

Los Angeles Dodgers