Diamondbacks blow late game lead, fall to Dodgers
For the Arizona Diamondbacks, Tuesday night’s 6-5 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers will likely be remembered as one of the signature defeats of a dismal season.
Cruising along with a 5-1 advantage heading into the bottom of the eighth inning at Dodger Stadium, the Diamondbacks didn’t just squander the lead -- they torched it, surrendering five runs with jaw-dropping swiftness in an epic bullpen meltdown.
In falling to 12 and 1/2 games behind the first-place Dodgers in the National League West, the Diamondbacks (23-30) wasted another brilliant pitching performance from starter Dan Haren, who allowed just one run on two hits in seven innings. Haren also went 3 for 3 at the plate to raise his batting average to .280, as he finished with more hits against the Dodgers than the Dodgers did against him.
It all went awry for the Diamondbacks in the bottom of the eighth, when Tony Pena was called upon to relieve Haren.
Pena, who had surrendered two unearned runs in the ninth inning on Monday to receive credit for his first save of the season in the D-backs’ 3-2 win over the Dodgers, returned to his eighth-inning setup role on Tuesday. Although Pena allowed a leadoff single to Los Angeles center fielder Matt Kemp, trouble appeared to be nowhere in sight for the Diamondbacks as the 27-year-old right-hander retired the next two batters.
And then the bottom fell out.
Juan Pierre bounced a single into right field. Rafael Furcal walked to load the bases. Orlando Hudson walked to force in a run.
With the bases still loaded and the D-backs clinging to a 5-2 lead, Arizona manager A.J. Hinch summoned rookie left-hander Daniel Schlereth to pitch to James Loney, a left-handed hitter. Loney teed off on a 1-1 offering from Schlereth, launching a three-run double off the fence in right-center field to tie the score at 5-5.
The Dodgers weren’t done yet.
After Loney advanced to third on a wild pitch, Casey Blake lined a single up the middle to drive in the go-ahead run.
Jonathan Broxton turned out the lights in the ninth, as the Dodgers closer set down the Diamondbacks in order on a groundout and two strikeouts to record his 12 th save. Jeff Weaver, who pitched two innings of scoreless relief for Los Angeles, earned the victory to improve to 3-1.
“It’s frustrating to lose this way because we were in control of the game from the second inning on, but we didn’t do enough to put them out of the game when we had opportunities,” Hinch said.
The D-backs scored a run in the first and increased their lead to 5-0 in the second when Justin Upton belted a grand slam off Dodgers starter Randy Wolf.
Haren, who lowered his earned-run average to 2.42, allowed just three base-runners in seven innings -- a solo homer by Andre Ethier in the second, a double by Ethier in the fifth and a walk by Hudson to lead off the seventh.
“Ethier hit a ball hard, but for the most part I felt I was in control,” said Haren, who struck out seven batters and threw 69 of his 110 pitches for strikes. “I got a little tired there at the end, but I gave it all I had.”
Haren said he was spent after the seventh, when he struck out Loney and Casey Blake and retired Ethier on an inning-ending groundout.
“My stuff was still there,” Haren said. “I got a couple strikeouts. But once I got Ethier out, I didn’t have much left in the tank.”
The Diamondbacks called for Pena, who entered the game in the eighth inning with a 1.78 earned-run average. After allowing four runs on two hits and two walks in two-thirds of an inning, Pena’s ERA ballooned to 3.12.
“It’s part of baseball,” Haren said about the frustration of watching the bullpen squander the lead. “I’m not happy about it, obviously. But Tony’s been probably our best reliever for the majority of the year. We need him to get where we want to be. Hopefully he bounces back and comes out tomorrow or the next day or whenever the next time he gets out there and puts up a zero, because he’s been terrific all year.”
Schlereth, who took the loss to fall to 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA, was making his third appearance since being promoted Friday from Class AA Mobile. After throwing a scoreless inning in each of his first two major-league outings, Schlereth was charged with one run on two hits -- the bases-clearing double by Loney to tie the game and the RBI single by Blake that put the Dodgers ahead.
“Tony was a little wild, and Daniel (Schlereth) can come in and has plenty of stuff to get Loney,” Hinch said. “He left a pitch up and out over the plate, and (Loney) didn’t miss it.”
By: Tom Kessler
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