Same story as poor pitching leads to loss for D-backs
PHOENIX — Even reliable Wade Miley could not keep Dodgers nemesis Adrian Gonzalez in the park Saturday, when the Diamondbacks’ struggles on both sides of the ball continued.
Gonzalez’s two-run home run in the third inning gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead, and it was 5-0 before A.J. Pollock hit the first pinch-hit home run of his career in the fifth, the only run Arizona would get off starter Zack Greinke.
The D-backs (4-10) scored three runs in the ninth inning to close the gap, but their 8-5 loss at Chase Field extended a couple of troubling early-season trends.
In part because the starting pitchers have scuffled through the first two weeks, the Diamondbacks have had to play catch-up virtually all season. They have played 127 innings this season and led in 47. They have been outscored by 30 runs this year.
The rotation has a majors-worst 6.84 ERA after Miley gave up five runs in five innings, and it has made just two quality starts this season. One was by Miley and the other by Sunday starter Trevor Cahill, who will attempt to break the Dodgers’ four-game winning streak in the season series.
"We haven’t pitched well. We haven’t hit the ball in the gap when we’ve got guys on," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "Both those are not good trends. We’ve not done well in those situations."
Miley and Bronson Arroyo have been the bright spots in the rotation so far, but Miley ran into the one team that has given him trouble this season. The Dodgers scored three runs off Miley (2-2) in five innings in Australia on March 22 and added five more in five innings Saturday.
Gonzalez has not helped. He hit a two-run home run and drove in five runs against Brandon McCarthy on Friday, and his two-run homer Saturday was his 26th career homer against Arizona, the most among active players. Only Barry Bonds (39) hit more.
Gonzalez’s home run Saturday was a line drive into the left-field seats, his 18th homer at Chase Field and his sixth to left field. He also has hit one to left-center.
"He’s locked in," Miley said. "You just have to continue to make good pitches and you’ll eventually get the guy out. We are just not making good enough pitches. That’s all it is."
Miley said he left a slider up and over the plate in Gonzalez’s at-bat in the fourth, and Gibson noted that it was a challenge for Miley most of the night.
"He had no command at all," Gibson said. "He had no feel for the strike zone. His mechanics were not good. He walked the first guy of the game. He struggled the whole five innings he was out there. Didn’t give us what we needed. Wade couldn’t throw the ball where he wanted to throw it, and the Dodgers made us pay for that."
The Diamondbacks had 12 hits but trailed 5-0 until Pollock homered in the fifth and 8-1 before Cliff Pennington singled in a run in the eighth. Miguel Montero hit a sacrifice fly and Mark Trumbo followed with a two-out, two-run double in the ninth to complete the scoring.
The D-backs made two errors, both by third baseman Martin Prado, and both led to unearned runs.
Gibson saw all that as a team trying too hard to overcome a slow start, a natural if sometimes counterproductive approach.
"Guys are pressing," Gibson said. "They want to do well and reverse the trend. When (losing) continues to happen, it’s frustrating. Everybody is trying to do too much. They want to pick each other up. It’s what happens in this game when you get into streaks like this. Everybody’s preparing. The game is not coming easy to them right now."
"We have to get over it. We’ve been searching for a spark. It hasn’t happened at this point of the season."
Left-hander Joe Thatcher was at his situational-specialist best in the eighth inning, striking out Adrian Gonzalez with a high-and-inside fastball to leave the bases loaded in a 7-1 game.
26 — career home runs by Adrian Gonzalez against the D-backs, the most by any active opponent.
— Chris Owings has four stolen bases in 14 games, a pace the D-backs have not seen since Eric Byrnes had 50 stolen bases in 2007, his last healthy season. Chris Young had 28 stolen bases in 2010, the franchise’s most since then.
— Cliff Pennington has five hits and three RBIs in his last two starts at shortstop, getting two hits against the Dodgers after a three-hit game Thursday in San Francisco.
— Wade Miley singled to center field in his only plate appearance and has a single in four straight at-bats, the eighth pitcher to do so in franchise history. Mike Morgan holds the record with hits in five straight at-bats in 2000.
— Closer Addison Reed pitched the ninth inning despite the D-backs trailing 7-1 at the start of the frame. Reed, who last pitched Thursday night in San Francisco, gave up two hits and an unearned run. The run scored when he did not cover first on a hard grounder to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt with the bases loaded and one out.
With left-handed hitters Tony Campana and Gerardo Parra in the lineup against Zack Greinke, Campana hit leadoff and Parra seventh, a move intended to maximize both players’ skill sets. Campana is the truest thing the D-backs have to a speed-first leadoff man, and Parra is freer to attack the pitcher when hitting lower in the order. "When ‘G’ is down there, it puts him in a little different mindset," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "Maybe looking at doing a little more damage. I think when you are the leadoff guy, you are thinking of taking more pitches and getting on base."