Dodgers unable to produce with men on base

Series loss to D-backs a disappointing start to second half

Dodgers unable to produce with men on base

PHOENIX -- This was supposed to be the easy series on this Dodgers trip coming out of the All-Star break, a view bolstered by Friday night's 13-7 win over last-place Arizona.

But the Dodgers left 15 runners on base while losing in extra innings Saturday and dropped the rubber game of the series to the D-backs on Sunday, 6-5, when a late-inning comeback fell just short.

Seeing Dodgers starting pitcher Kenta Maeda for the third time this year, the D-backs strung four hits for three first-inning runs, tagging Maeda for a season-high five runs and chasing him after 4 1/3 innings, the ninth time in the last 11 games that a Dodgers starter hadn't pitched into the sixth inning.

"The three runs in the first inning really took a toll and I couldn't get into my rhythm after that," said Maeda, who was coming off a 13-strikeout, seven-inning win over the Padres.

Maeda, who had allowed only four first-inning runs in 18 previous starts, found his out-pitch slider not cooperating in the desert air.

"Maeda made some really good pitches, but some pitches were left over the big part of plate," manager Dave Roberts said. "He couldn't put guys away. In Arizona, the ball does different things, you've got to get on top of the breaking ball."

What proved the decisive run was the one that gave Arizona a 6-0 lead in the seventh inning, scoring on a Chris Hatcher wild pitch that the D-backs believed was intended to drill the hot-hitting Jake Lamb. Instead, Lamb evaded the pitch at his feet and the pitch eluded catcher A.J. Ellis, who was playing with a bruised chin suffered in a freak collision with batter Nick Ahmed, who was called for interference. Two Dodgers batters were hit by pitches earlier in the game.

Segura scores on a wild pitch

Offensively, Justin Turner drove in four runs and Corey Seager had a franchise-tying three doubles, but most of the rest of the offense floundered. Until Turner's two-run homer in the eighth, the Dodgers had added an 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position onto Saturday's 1-for-15.

"With runners in scoring position, sometimes you've got to shorten up and put the ball in play," said Roberts. "There's something to be said for that. I do believe we're going to continue to get better, but runners in scoring position, those numbers don't lie. In situations in this series we weren't very good until that last inning. It's a production-based game, so when you get opportunities, you've got to cash in."

Sunday's lineup against lefty Robbie Ray was without Adrian Gonzalez, Chase Utley, Yasmani Grandal and Andrew Toles, although they all pinch-hit, and Utley's walk led off the three-run ninth. With Seager and Turner producing -- and Joc Pederson not returning from the disabled list until the next stop of the trip in Washington Tuesday night -- the spotlight fell on Yasiel Puig, as it often does.

With the tying run on third and the tie-breaking run on first, one out in the ninth, Puig fell behind, 0-2, before striking out. He also left two runners ending the third inning and grounded out with the bases loaded to end the top of the 12th inning in Saturday night's loss, completing an 0-for-5 game, one night after he drove in three in a three-hit game.

"He's trying to do too much," Roberts said of Puig. "With guys in scoring position and it gets hot, with Yasiel you can see the tension and him squeeze the bat and it's a case of doing too much."

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.