Dodgers try to bounce back after D-backs' walkoff win
PHOENIX -- Dodger Stadium again this season is ranked as one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the National League.
Mostly when the Los Angeles Dodgers pitch, it seems.
The Dodgers have hit a franchise-record 227 homers this season, setting a team record for the second consecutive year, and they had one more -- on the road -- from Cody Bellinger on Tuesday, but the Diamondbacks hit the one that mattered.
Eduardo Escobar's walkoff in the last of the ninth inning gave them a 4-3 victory and trimmed the Dodgers' lead in the NL West to one-half over the Colorado Rockies. The teams are even in the loss column. The Dodgers have four games remaining. The Rockies have five.
"It's always the best way to win a game," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.
While the Dodgers continue to peak, the Diamondbacks got a small reprieve from their uncharacteristically subdued offense as the teams prepare for the final contest of a three-game series Wednesday, when Dodgers right-hander Ross Stripling (8-5, 2.84 ERA) is to face Arizona right-hander Zack Greinke (14-11, 3.21).
Reserve Max Muncy leads the Dodgers with 33 homers (in only 378 at-bats) and Cody Bellinger, Yasmani Grandal, Enrique Hernandez, Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig have between 21 and 24. Justin Turner has 13 in 98 games after missing two months with an injury. Manny Machado has 13 of his career-high 37 since joining the Dodgers.
"Am I surprised? Probably not," Roberts said.
"If you look at our lineup and our position players, there are a lot of guys who can slug. We have a lot of good players. That's great. That wins baseball games. But for me, it's the detail of grinding at-bats. There was a fly ball to the left fielder (Monday) that I think was the best at-bat of the night."
After Turner flew out to left field to end an 11-pitch at-bat in the fifth inning Monday, Machado homered to tie the game at 2. The Dodgers won 7-4.
Not to be overlooked, the Dodgers also lead the NL in pitches seen per plate appearance at just over four per. Grandal, Bellinger, Chris Taylor and Muncy are in the top 17 among players who have seen at least 1,900 pitches. Hernandez and Turner also are above four, and both have seen more than 1,600 pitches.
"You have homers, but there are a lot of at-bats outside of those 'x' amount of homers that we hit this year that are very important. I like to appreciate those are important at-bats, too," Roberts said.
Arizona, meanwhile, has struggled to put up the kind of offensive numbers it is accustomed to.
The Diamondbacks have 676 runs, ninth in the NL league, and are on pace to average about 4.3 runs, a 17 percent decrease from 2017. David Peralta has had a career year offensively, as has the middle infield combination of Ketel Marte and Nick Ahmed. Paul Goldschmidt was his consistent self.
But the loss of free agent J.D. Martinez could not be overcome, injuries to 30-homer third baseman Jake Lamb, A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza Jr., and the addition of the humidor could be factors in the decrease.
"It hasn't been anything that I expected because this group is so talented," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.
"This group is so gifted with their ability to set up pitchers and score runs in bunches and blow teams away. For some reason we've lacked that. Why? I don't know. We've tried just about everything. Things that I've shared with you. Things that I have not shared with you. Just nothing has really seemed to give us a push and be as consistent as we had hoped we would be."
The Diamondbacks have scored fewer runs only once in their last 10 years, in their 69-win season in 2014 that brought a managerial and front office change.
"Pitching and defense kind of carried us," Lovullo said. "It would be nice to see everything function at the same time. I'm disappointed that we didn't met the expectations. We were spoiled last year. We had a really good offensive team."
Stripling has lost his last two outings, going 3 1/3 innings each time. He missed most of August with a back injury and the Dodgers have taken it slowly on his return. He has made six early-season appearances against Arizona, five in relief and an April 30 start in which he gave up four runs in four innings of an 8-5 loss. He is 0-3 with a 5.19 ERA in 10 career games at Chase Field.
Greinke will make his final start of the season Wednesday, his last chance to get to the 15-win plateau for the seventh time in the last eight seasons. He won 13 games in 2016, his first season with the Diamondbacks, after missing two months with an oblique injury.
Greinke is 2-1 with a 4.12 ERA in three starts against the Dodgers this season and is 6-5 with a 3.83 ERA against them in 14 career starts.