Ted Lilly was cruising through five innings Monday night, allowing just one hit and a pair of walks while striking out five and clinging to a 1-0 lead. Unfortunately though for the Dodgers, major league baseball games are scheduled for nine innings. A five-run sixth inning lifted the Diamondbacks to a 7-2 win over the Dodgers in the opener of a three-game homestand.
The Dodgers' elimination number for the National League West is three, meaning any combination of Dodgers losses or Diamondbacks wins totaling three will eliminate the Dodgers from the division. The Dodgers' elimination number for the wild card is five.
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Matt Kemp opened the scoring for the Dodgers with an opposite field home run with two outs in the first inning, his second home run this season off Joe Saunders. Kemp's 33rd home run of the year snapped a pair of power droughts, six games and 29 plate appearances for Kemp and 257 plate appearances for the team without a circuit clout.
Lilly didn't allow a hit until Ryan Roberts singled with one out in the fifth inning. He took a 1-0 lead into the top of the sixth, when Arizona began the inning with a single by Willie Bloomquist and a double by Aaron Hill to tie the game. It was the eighth double in 19 games for Hill since getting traded to the Diamondbacks from Toronto.
With first base open, even with nobody out, Don Mattingly wanted to part of Justin Upton, who was intentionally walked. After getting Miguel Montero to pop out to his counterpart, Rod Barajas, in foul territory, Lilly completely ignored Hill, who stole third base without a throw. With a 1-1 count on Paul Goldschmidt, Mattingly had seen enough, and went to the mound to take the ball from Lilly, who has allowed a major-league high 33 steals this season.
Matt Guerrier was the first man in from the bullpen, but he provided no relief as he allowed two singles and a walk, not in that order, to the three men he faced. Guerrier left with the bases loaded and a 3-1 deficit, but two of those runners scored when Gerardo Parra greeted Scott Elbert with a two-run single to left field.
Jerry Sands broke out of his 1-for-14 skid with three singles, including an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to pull to within three runs. However, the Diamondbacks answered back with two runs of their own off Mike MacDougal in the top of the eighth inning.
Saunders allowed two runs in seven innings for his second win in five starts against the Dodgers this season.
Nathan Eovaldi, who was moved to the bullpen in an effort to cap his total innings pitched this season, made his first major league relief appearance, pitching a scoreless ninth inning. Eovaldi last pitched on September 3, in what was his final start of the season. According to MLB Gameday, Eovaldi hit 100 MPH on one fastball tonight, hit 99 on three others, and 98 on three other fastballs.
After consecutive losses by the Dodgers of 8-1 and 7-2, the struggling Chad Billingsley takes the mound on Tuesday night hoping his mechanics are in order. Ian Kennedy starts for Arizona, in search of his 20th win of the season.
WP - Joe Saunders (11-12): 7 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
LP - Ted Lilly (9-14): 5 1/3 IP, 3 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
Sv - J.J. Putz (39): 1 batter, 1 out