A pivotal sixth inning turned Monday's game in favor of Texas in the Dodgers' 4-1 loss to the Rangers in the series opener at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
The Dodgers had a few whispers of offense against Yovani Gallardo, but were unable to push a run across in his seven innings. Gallardo induced three ground ball double plays in his final three innings, with the sixth inning twin-killing terminating the most promising Dodgers rally.
After walks by Alberto Callaspo and Joc Pederson to open the sixth in a scoreless tie, Yasiel Puig flew out to right field, a ball misjudged at first by Shin-Soo Choo, who recovered in plenty of time to catch the ball. Callaspo, almost in a dance-like rhythm, was stuck between getting a lead off second base and going back to tag, and ended up lost, unable to advance to third.
Any consternation over that gaffe was made nearly moot almost instantaneously, when Adrian Gonzalez rolled into an inning-ending double play.
Carlos Frias was on a solid performance, allowing three hits and a walk through five scoreless innings, and with only 66 pitches to that point looked destined for a fourth straight deep outing.
But like Gallardo, Frias walked the first two batters of the sixth, putting Choo and Joey Gallo on base with only nine pitches. The Rangers seized the opportunity with a pair of first-pitch singles by Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland, each scoring a run.
After a sacrifice bunt Frias was removed, then the left-handed Rougned Odor greeted southpaw Adam Liberatore with a single to left field to score two more runs, giving Texas a 4-0 lead.
The Dodgers' offense showed signs of life after Gallardo left the game, with Yasmani Grandal greeting relief pitcher Tanner Scheppers with a home run to center field in the eighth inning. After one out, Callaspo and Pederson put themselves on base with a walk and a single, respectively, bringing the tying run to the plate.
But the threat ended with a strikeout of Puig and a foul pop out to third by Gonzalez, with the hardest hit of the group when Puig broke his bat over his knee in frustration.
The home run for Grandal was his eighth of the season, surpassing the Dodgers' total by catchers for all of 2014.
Old friend Shawn Tolleson allowed a single in the ninth inning, but pitched a scoreless frame to earn his ninth save of the season.
Tolleson, who the Dodgers tried and failed to sneak through outright waivers after recovery from back surgery in November 2014, has a 2.74 ERA in 93 appearances with 102 strikeouts in 102 innings since.
With rain in the forecast in Arlington on Tuesday, of course Brett Anderson is the scheduled starter for the Dodgers on Tuesday night. The Rangers will counter with 23-year-old Chi Chi Gonzalez, who has allowed one run in his three major league starts, but with 10 walks and eight strikeouts is due for a beating with the regression stick.
Home runs: Yasmani Grandal (8)
WP - Yovani Gallardo (6-6): 7 IP, 4 hits, walks, 4 strikeouts
LP - Carlos Frias (4-4): 5⅓ IP, 5 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
Sv - Shawn Tolleson (9): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout