Ted Lilly's personal eight-game win streak and 5-0 start to this season were shattered as well, the left-hander kayoed after 3 1/3 innings and charged with eight runs on nine hits and five walks. After five consecutive quality starts to open the season, Lilly has allowed five, four (unearned) and eight runs in his last three.
"It was definitely a combination of extremely poor pitching on my part and good hitting on theirs," said Lilly, who doesn't mince words in self analysis. "I was missing big. And when I would throw a decent pitch, they'd drive that, too. I felt like I was constantly searching for a different way to get them out. It was one of those nights that I couldn't find a way to get ahead or put guys away."
Except for maybe finding a new leadoff hitter in the amazing Elian Herrera (two doubles and an RBI), Mattingly's lineup magic fizzled. He rested Andre Ethier and James Loney against Arizona lefty Joe Saunders, and right-handed replacements Jerry Sands and Scott Van Slyke went 0-for-7 with four strikeouts and a walk.
"Herrera swung the bat good tonight," Mattingly said of the career Minor Leaguer, who is 9-for-26 (.346) in his long-awaited first shot in The Show. "With Mark [Ellis] down, it does give him playing time. He brings some energy to the top and his handled himself well. He doesn't look like a kid. He's 27, [seven] years in the Minor Leagues. He's played a lot of baseball."
A.J. Ellis got to Saunders with another argument for the All-Star team by homering in the fourth inning, his fourth, and adding a customary walk that triggered a three-run seventh. He's among league leaders with a .327 average, .449 on-base percentage and 24 walks. His .513 slugging percentage is 133 points higher than his career average.
Despite the loss, the Dodgers still own the largest lead (seven games) and the best record (30-14) in baseball. After a day off Thursday, they play seven games against teams with losing records (Houston and Milwaukee) at Dodger Stadium, where they have the best home record in baseball (19-4).
After watching the Dodgers field a team full of Minor League callups and pull off a stunning comeback win on Tuesday night, one of the D-backs said the Dodgers are doing this year exactly what the D-backs did last year, finding a new hero every night.
Even with this win, Arizona is still 10 1/2 games back.
"They've got a big lead on us for sure, everyone knows that," said Saunders. "It's just a matter of taking it one game at a time, one pitch at a time. That's all you can do. Just focus on today and when tomorrow comes worry about tomorrow. So we'll see where we're at. Hopefully we can kind of whittle away at that lead as we come down the stretch here."
Ryan Roberts, Arizona's second batter of the game, set the tone with a home run. Roberts has five career hits off Lilly, four of them homers. Lilly's problems continued with walks to Justin Upton and Paul Goldschmidt and an RBI single by Aaron Hill. Lilly made 37 pitches in the inning.
Arizona scored another pair of runs in the second inning on a single by Henry Blanco that exploded past shortstop Dee Gordon, an RBI triple by Willie Bloomquist and a sacrifice fly by Roberts.
More of the same in the third, as Goldschmidt doubled, stole third, Hill walked on four pitches and Gerardo Parra singled home Goldschmidt.
Arizona scored for the fourth consecutive inning on a leadoff single by Bloomquist, a walk by Roberts and a crazy-carom two-run triple by Jason Kubel. Goldschmidt walked and Hill singled home Kubel to chase Lilly.
The punishment continued when Jamey Wright took over, as the D-backs scored three more in the fifth, two on Upton's fifth homer. Order was restored by Todd Coffey, who threw a perfect sixth inning in his first appearance in six days.