CINCINNATI -- The Dodgers spent about three months trying to climb up from second place to first and finally did it on Tuesday. But their narrow lead at the top of the heap disappeared after a 9-2 loss to the Reds on Friday gave them back-to-back defeats.
Joey Votto provided the Reds with four RBIs, including a three-run home run three batters into the game against Dodgers starter Bud Norris. Votto also walked with the bases loaded in the fourth, a few batters after pitcher Tim Adleman hit a two-run double. Reds pitchers provided five RBIs as hitters to help their own cause.
Norris, who spent the past two weeks on the disabled list with a back injury, struggled in his return. He lasted 3 2/3 innings and allowed six earned runs and seven hits with four walks and three strikeouts.
"Even with a three-run lead or a six-run lead, the Dodgers are swinging the bats extremely well, probably better than anybody in baseball, or at least the National League, at this time," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "No lead is safe. You have to create more separation, which we were able to do and bring home the win."
Back in the big league rotation for the first time since May 19, Adleman pitched five scoreless innings, but gave the Dodgers what seemed to be an open invitation to do damage. Los Angeles was 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position against Adleman, who gave up five hits with two walks, three strikeouts and four hit batters. Dodgers batters hit drives to the warning track four times off of him, but three went for outs.
"I'm not going to run out there every night and punch out 10," said Adleman, who is 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA in five big league starts. "That's not the kind of pitcher I am, so if guys are going to be aggressive and swing early in the count and be on base, it's my job to minimize damage and get double plays, working out of some trouble."
With the loss and the Giants' 8-1 win over the Mets, the Dodgers fall into second place in the National League West, one-half game behind San Francisco.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Powerful return: Reds reliever Michael Lorenzen, who missed three games on the bereavement list because of his father's death, had a special return. Lorenzen, who entered to pitch with one out in the seventh of a 6-1 game, batted for himself in the bottom of the inning and hit a Pedro Baez first pitch for a three-run homer to right-center. It was his first big league home run and the crowd of 28,184 fans at Great American Ball Park -- seemingly aware of Lorenzen's circumstances -- called for and received a curtain call from the right-hander.
"Definitely, everything happens for a reason," Lorenzen said. More >
Mound dilemma: Before he'd even thrown a pitch, Norris appeared uncomfortable. While warming up, Norris called the grounds crew out to the mound to deal with an apparent issue. Norris said that a chunk of clay came out on the first-base side of the rubber, making it difficult to get a push off of his back leg. Norris went on to allow three runs in the first inning, including a leadoff walk to Billy Hamilton and then the three-run homer to Votto.
"It was kind of there," Norris said. "It's something you're trying to have your back foot planted and you're really going to have, drive off that back leg and just never really got comfortable. It's not really an excuse either, you've just got to go out there and play the game." More >
First career hit a big one: With two outs and Eugenio Suarez on third base in the fourth, the Dodgers intentionally walked No. 8 hitter Tucker Barnhart to face Adleman. In an 0-2 count, Adleman burned Norris by sharply lining a fastball for a two-run double through the right-center-field gap and to the wall to make it 5-0. It was the rookie Adleman's first big league hit and runs batted in.
"Definitely felt great," Adleman said. "Any way you can contribute, it's a good feeling. At the end of the day, when the team wins, it's nice."
Smooth return for Liberatore: Left-handed reliever Adam Liberatore made his return from the disabled list on Friday, pitching a scoreless eighth inning, which included a strikeout and a double play. Liberatore had been out since Aug. 3 with inflammation in his left elbow. Before the injury, Liberatore had been one of the Dodgers' best options out of the bullpen with a 1.65 ERA in 33 1/3 innings.
"He's pressing. He's getting some pitches in the strike zone that he's not finishing the at-bat, whether it's a swing-and-miss or a foul ball, getting out of the zone a little bit. There's some visible frustration. He wants to perform. It seems like there comes some spots during each game where he has a chance to impact the game but hasn't come up with that hit." -- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, on Josh Reddick, who went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base
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Reds pitchers collected five RBIs in a game for just the second time in franchise history. It also happened on Aug. 20, 1937, against the Cubs when Paul Derringer drove in five runs.
WHAT'S NEXT Dodgers:Brett Anderson takes the mound for the second of a four-game series against the Reds on Saturday at 4:10 p.m. PT. Anderson allowed five runs in one inning on Sunday against the Pirates in his season debut before being pulled with a mild left wrist sprain.
Reds: When the series resumes at 7:10 p.m. ET Saturday, Brandon Finnegan will get the start for Cincinnati. On May 23 at Dodger Stadium, Finnegan had the best start of his career with an eight-inning complete game, but he was a 1-0 loser to Clayton Kershaw.