Max Scherzer got the better of Zack Greinke in Wednesday morning's duel of former Cy Young Award winners, and the Dodgers were swept for the first time in 2014 with a 4-1 loss to the Tigers at Comerica Park.
The Dodgers tried to get off to a second quick start in as many days, when Yasiel Puig tripled to center field with one out in the first inning. But before the rally had a chance to materialize, shortstop Eugenio Suarez caught Puig leaning the wrong way on a ground ball by Hanley Ramirez, erasing the runner in scoring position with a throw to third base.
Almost immediately, in karmic taunting fashion, the Tigers hit a triple of their own, with Austin Jackson leading off the first inning with a drive to right center. Ian Kinsler singled to left to drive in Jackson, advanced to second on a wild pitch, then scored on a single by fill-in first baseman Don Kelly for a quick 2-0 lead.
Three straight singles to open the fourth, including another hit from Kelly - a career .230/.292/.339 playing first for Miguel Cabrera and batting fifth - gave the Tigers another run and a 3-0 lead. Greinke was able to stop any further bleeding by getting Alex Avila to ground into a 3-6-1 double play that ended with Greinke making a nice stretch at first base.
Miguel Rojas got the Dodgers on the board in the fifth inning with a shot to left field, his first major league home run that not only cut the deficit to 3-1 but stopped a run of 17 consecutive runs scored by the Tigers.
Puig doubled to lead off the sixth inning, giving the Dodgers a chance to pull even closer, but was stranded again, this time through no fault of his own. Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp both strikeout swinging, with a grounder by Adrian Gonzalez mixed in between.
Scherzer struck out seven in his seven innings, allowing only four hits and two walks and just the one run, earning his 11th win of the season. Against the bullpen the Dodgers didn't fare any better. Joba Chamberlain struck out two in a scoreless eighth, and Joe Nathan struck out two in a scoreless ninth to close out a bitter 21 hours in Detroit for the Dodgers.
Puig's triple was the 25th of the season for the Dodgers, in their 93rd game. As a team in 2013, the Dodgers hit 17 triples all year. In 2012, they hit 23.
Greinke suffered the loss, but struck out eight and walked none in his seven innings. It was the 12th game this season by a Dodgers starter with at least eight strikeouts and no walks (Greinke and Clayton Kershaw have five each). No other major league team has more than five.
Kemp was 7-for-9 in his previous two games but was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Wednesday, including 0-for-3 with two strikeouts against Scherzer. Against Scherzer in his career, Kemp is 0-for-21 with a walk and seven strikeouts.
Ramirez was 0-for-3 with a walk, snapping a 13-game hitting streak by Dodgers designated hitters.
The Dodgers fell to 8-8 in interleague play, including 5-3 on the road, with only the Angels remaining (Aug. 4-7) on the interleague slate.
The Dodgers mercifully return home to head into the All-Star break with four games against the Padres at Dodger Stadium. a Clayton Kershaw gets the call in the opener and even though he sports a 1.85 ERA will face an even more stingy run prevention artist, as 27-year-old Cuban signee Odrisamer Despaigne has allowed two runs in his first three major league starts.
Home run: Miguel Rojas (1)
WP - Max Scherzer (11-3): 7 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts
LP - Zack Greinke (11-5): 7 IP, 7 hits, 3 runs, 8 strikeouts
Sv - Joe Nathan (18): 1 IP, 2 strikeouts