Reds 3, Dodgers 2: Offense lulled to sleep in loss

Joe Robbins

The Dodgers took an early lead but managed just three hits after the first inning as they lost the opener to the Reds on Friday night at Great American Ball Park.

Joey Votto homered in the fifth inning and the Dodgers' offense went to sleep against Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman, dropping the series opener to the Reds 3-2 on Friday night in Cincinnati.

The Dodgers lost their starting pitcher, Chris Capuano, in the second inning but he apparently took the team's bats with him to the clubhouse. Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run home run in the first inning for a quick 2-0 Dodgers lead. But they only had three hits and no walks after the opening frame.

Chapman struck out Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and Ramirez in the ninth inning on just 13 pitches to close out the win for Cincinnati. It was the fourth straight outing for Chapman, the first time in his career he was used in four straight days, but it certainly didn't show.

Steve Lyons, with Eric Collins in their final 2013 Dodgers broadcast, went out on a high note with this foreshadowing with Ramirez at the plate in the first inning.

"Hanley Ramirez is he's feeling good at the plate, this isn't a ballpark that can hold him. He could have a multi-home-run series here," Lyons said, just before Ramirez did this:

After Capuano left the game, Peter Moylan used all of three pitches to strikeout his only batter faced to get out of the inning, but was pinch hit for in the third inning by Dee Gordon, who reached base with a bunt single but was hit on the back of the neck by the throw to first base. It was a painful night for the No. 9 spot in the Dodgers batting order.

Stephen Fife allowed four hits and a run in the first two innings of his first major league relief appearance, but then opened the fifth inning, his third relief frame, with a walk to pitcher Mike Leake, Fife's second free pass of the night. That marked the end of the line for Fife, who had 16 walks and just six strikeouts in his last 14 innings in Triple-A.

J.P. Howell allowed a single but then got a double play ground ball for the first two outs of the inning. But before he could escape the fifth inning without damage, Howell allowed an opposite-field drive by Joey Votto that found its way into the seats just beyond the left center field wall for a two-run home run and a 3-2 Reds lead.

Chris Withrow restored order by retiring all six batters he faced in the sixth and seventh innings, including the first five by strikeout. Counting his last outing on Tuesday in Colorado, Withrow struck out six consecutive batters, three shy of the Dodgers record set by Aaron Harang, obviously.

Paco Rodriguez was uncharacteristically bad in the eighth inning, allowing all three batters to reach base. Brian Wilson entered with the bases loaded and nobody out, but was able to keep the deficit at one run, thanks in large part to catching this line drive off the bat of Ryan Ludwick for a double play:

All in all, on a night when the starting pitcher left after five outs, allowing three runs to the Reds in Cincinnati is a winnable game.

But the Dodgers couldn't cash in on their good fortune as they were mowed down by Chapman, including three straight fastballs to blow away Puig in the first MLB encounter between the two great Cubans. Leake, Manny Parra and Chapman combined to retire 18 of the final 19 Dodger batters.

Up next

The Dodgers sent Zack Greinke to the mound for Saturday's contest, a 10 a.m. morning start on Fox. Mat Latos gets the start for the Reds.

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Hanley Ramirez (16); Joey Votto (22)

WP - Mike Leake (12-6): 7⅔ IP, 5 hits, 2 runs, 5 strikeouts

LP - J.P. Howell (2-1): 1 IP, 2 hits, 1 run

Sv - Aroldis Chapman (35): 1 IP, 3 strikeouts

Magic number: Still 12, pending Arizona at San Francisco tonight

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