Greinke allows 2 HRs in Dodgers' 5-2 loss to Reds
Catcher A.J. Ellis went to the mound for a chat with Zack Greinke in the sixth inning as Jay Bruce stood near home plate with a 2-2 count on him.
The right-hander's next delivery ended up beyond the fence in left-center field.
Bruce's 21st homer of the season, along with a solo shot in the first by Xavier Paul, powered Mat Latos and the Cincinnati Reds to a 5-2 victory over the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series.
Bruce was 2 for 21 lifetime against Greinke before his home run. It came after Greinke turned Joey Votto's comebacker into a 1-6-3 double play and then hit Brandon Phillips on the leg with an 0-2 delivery.
''We just talked about how we wanted to go about it against him with the next pitch,'' Ellis said. ''We decided we were going to take a chance with the backdoor curveball, but Bruce did a great job with it. Maybe it was a tick higher than we would have liked, but still, it wasn't an awfully executed pitch. So we give Bruce all the credit in the world for staying back on it. He shocked us all by hitting the ball out of the ballpark to left field.''
Greinke (8-3) gave up four runs and six hits over seven innings in his second attempt at his 100th major league victory. The loss was his first in his last six decisions overall, and first in seven career starts against the Reds (4-1).
''Obviously, Zack's a very good pitcher and he's got a lot of weapons, so you've got to make sure you get something you can handle and take advantage of mistakes,'' Bruce said. ''We have a team with some guys who go out of the zone a little bit, and maybe that was his game plan. I don't know.''
Coming off a 6-0 trip that extended their road winning streak to 10 games - the longest by the franchise since 1955 - the Dodgers lost for only the sixth time in their last 29 games overall. Their division lead over Arizona shrunk to a half-game with the Diamondbacks' 3-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
''We're in a good spot, but we have to keep going,'' Ellis said. ''We've worked hard to get to this point, and we don't want to let it go to waste. We've got some good teams behind us that are going to be tough down the stretch, so we've got to stay humble and understand that this is part of the grind.''
A couple of former Dodgers drove in Cincinnati's first two runs. Paul, the second batter Greinke faced, drove a 2-0 pitch into the right-field pavilion in his 700th career plate appearance and Cesar Izturis added an RBI single in the second inning.
''They had the pitcher up next, but I thought I could get Izturis out. And I'd rather start the inning off with Latos than have to start with Choo,'' Greinke said. ''You don't want to give Izturis too good of a pitch to hit, but you can't walk him. It wasn't crushed or anything, just up - and that's going to be hit every time. That's what he does.''
Latos (10-3) allowed two runs - one earned - and eight hits with four strikeouts en route to his first victory at Dodger Stadium, after going 0-5 with a 3.95 ERA in his five previous starts at Chavez Ravine.
Latos is 24-7 in 54 starts since Cincinnati acquired him from San Diego in December 2011. The last time he faced the Dodgers back on Sept. 22 at Cincinnati, he pitched eight innings in a 6-0 victory that clinched the Reds' second NL Central title in a three-year span.
''Latos was really dealing tonight,'' manager Dusty Baker said. ''He was throwing downhill. His fastball looked like it was going to go low, and then it stayed up in the zone. He also had a really good breaking ball. That's a heck of a team over there, and he almost got out of the eighth without anything.''
Yasiel Puig, who has been playing like anything but a rookie since the Dodgers promoted him from Triple-A on June 3, single-handedly manufactured their unearned run in the fourth after leading off with a single and making his customary exaggerated turn at first.
Center fielder Shin-Soo Choo tried to get cute and made an ill-advised throw past first baseman Votto - hoping to surprise Puig - and the ball hopped into the stands. Puig was awarded two bases and scored on the first of Adrian Gonzalez's two RBI groundouts. The error was Choo's third of the season.
''That wasn't a bad play,'' Baker said. ''I mean, if that throw is on the money, he has him. But it just looked bad because it had a tail on it and it was cutting away, and it skipped by Joey. Those things don't happen unless a guy is hustling, and there aren't many guys that hustle like that on a sure single. So you've got to give Puig credit for that.
''I remember when I first came into the league, Hank Aaron told me not to mess around - especially when Pete Rose of Roberto Clemente hits the ball because they would put pressure on you to throw the ball,'' Baker added. ''And the only way to do that is to run. So I've got to give it to him. Most guys don't run like that, and most guys can't. The ones that can don't usually hustle like that. But this guy comes to play.''
Choo made another egregious mistake on the base paths during the Reds' eighth. Votto lined a hit-and-run single to center field, but Choo got fooled on a perfect decoy by shortstop Hanley Ramirez at second base - so good that Choo started back to first and was tagged out on the relay from Andre Ethier to Ramirez.
''That's an old schoolyard play that works like once a year somewhere, and it worked for them tonight.'' Baker said. ''He didn't pick up the third base coach. You've got to use your ears as well as your eyes, and you've got to take a peek. Sometimes in your quest to get to second base, you don't take a peek.''
Puig, who went 53 at-bats without an extra-base hit before his double and home run in the Dodgers' 8-3 win against the Blue Jays on Wednesday, had a pair of singles and raised his average to .378.
''He's got long arms and a big bat,'' Latos said. ''Both singles he had off me I jammed him, but he's big and strong. He put one into the shallow part of the outfield, then I beat him on a slider and he was able to keep the barrel out and reach over and hook it.''
Aroldis Chapman got three outs for his 24th save in 27 chances.
NOTES: Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, the only member of the Dodgers' family who gets more standing ovations than Puig, received another one from the sellout crowd on his bobblehead night after a video montage was played on both main scoreboards midway through the fifth inning. Scully is in his 64th season with the club. ... Choo drove in Cincinnati's final run with a ninth-inning single against Carlos Marmol in the right-hander's first home appearance with the Dodgers. ... Paul's six home runs this year are one fewer than he hit in 507 at-bats during his four previous big league seasons. He homered once for the Dodgers in 146 at-bats spanning 62 games - a solo shot at Miami against Chris Volstad. ... Latos has allowed only two home runs against the Dodgers in 72 career innings spanning 10 starts. Both of them were by James Loney. ... Three of Greinke's four strikeouts came against Latos.