McCarthy extends stellar return to form

Starter blanks D-backs over 6 innings in third game back from TJ surgery

McCarthy extends stellar return to form

PHOENIX -- Setting aside the 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position, 15 runners stranded, Kenley Jansen's blown save, baserunning blunders and a 2-1 loss in 12 innings Saturday night, the Dodgers at least could applaud Brandon McCarthy's dominant start against Arizona.

In fact, that's just what manager Dave Roberts did, stressing what went right before itemizing all that went wrong.

"First and foremost, Brandon threw a heck of a game, and to come back here against his old team and give us a great outing was exciting for all of us," Roberts said of McCarthy, who struck out eight in six scoreless innings in only his third start back from Tommy John surgery.

McCarthy allowed only three hits without a walk. He picked off one of the baserunners, and catcher Yasmani Grandal threw out Paul Goldschmidt trying to steal second base. Roberts said he didn't send McCarthy back out for the seventh inning because he wanted to be sensitive to the pitcher's restored health.

"Unfortunately, we couldn't get him the win," Roberts said. "That was the longest he's been out there, and to have him try to go seven, I wanted to be sensitive to his health going forward. Today, he had that two-seamer running in on righties, it had depth and some run, late movement. He threw the breaking ball for a strike whenever he needed to. His direction to the plate, the mechanics were repeatable."

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"I want to get more innings," McCarthy said. "The pitch count will evolve. I want to maximize efficiency. Getting through six is encouraging, but I'd like to get into seven and eight. That's going to come with a little bit of time."

Nonetheless, the six innings were the most after a pair of five-inning starts. He's held the opposition scoreless twice. He's struck out at least six each time and eight twice, this time while facing his former club for the first time in his career.

While Hyun-Jin Ryu, who is tentatively scheduled to start Wednesday in Washington, has made one shaky start since returning from shoulder surgery, McCarthy has a 1.69 ERA and doesn't seem to be in danger of losing his spot when the Dodgers' injured starters -- Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and Brett Anderson -- return to the rotation, which figures to happen as early as next week with Kershaw.

"We've got a lot of talent coming back soon, and it's on all of us to keep pitching well and show what we can," McCarthy said. "But it's not like it's a Spring Training competition. We're all just trying to pitch well during the middle of the season."

McCarthy agreed with Roberts that the sinker had good life in this game and called the consistency of his curveball in each start "crucial," but he was unhappy with the "sloppy" mechanics of his four-seamer.

"[Grandal] did a great job calling what I had going well," he said. "Like any start, some good and some bad and you stick with the things going well."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.