If there is one incontrovertible truth based on the first two major league starts of Ross Stripling, it's that the team that leads 2-0 when he leaves the game will not win that game. The Dodgers shook off the doldrums and rallied for five runs in the seventh inning, the decisive blow a two-run double by Kiké Hernandez in a 5-2 win over the Diamondbacks on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.
Both teams struggled all series with runners in scoring position, and through four innings of scoreless baseball on Thursday, neither team had a hit with runners in scoring position during the three-game series. The Dodgers were 0-for-17, and the D-Backs were 0-for-11.
There is a classic quote by former legendary USC football coach John McKay, much later in his career when he led the hapless Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL. When asked about his team's execution, McKay said, "I'm in favor of it."
It would be perfectly understandable if after leaving his second major league start Stripling might feel the same level of frustration. After all, he struck out five and walked one in six strong innings, allowing only two runs. He even got Paul Goldschmidt out three times, which qualifies as a success in anyone's book. But he had nothing to show for it, down 2-0.
Stripling, who left his major league debut last Friday with a no-hitter in 7⅓ innings, got that out of the way early on Thursday by allowing a single to Jean Segura to lead off the game.
The D-backs got off the RISP goose egg first, with a two-out single in the fifth by Nick Ahmed, who already proved to be a thorn in the Dodgers' side with home runs in each of the first two games of the series.
Arizona added another run in the sixth inning, this time not even needing a hit with runners in scoring position. Socrates Brito singled, stole second, then advanced twice on ground balls to give Arizona a two-run advantage.
That 2-0 lead loomed large because of the pitching of Robbie Ray, who struck out six and pitched into the seventh. But he also walked five, the last one by Austin Barnes to put both tying runs on base with one out in the seventh.
At this point the Dodgers were 0-for-2 on the night with RISP and 0-for-18 in the series, but the salve would come in the form of relief pitchers Randall Delgado and Andrew Chafin. The Dodgers got four straight hits — a single by pinch-hitter Justin Turner, a double by Hernandez — to take the lead, then singles by Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez to tack on some runs, and just like that the Dodgers were in command.
Kenley Jansen, one night after the first five-out save of his career, retired Arizona in order in the ninth for his fourth save. The Dodgers bullpen retired nine of 10 batters they faced, including a scoreless seventh by J.P. Howell for the win.
The 6-4 Dodgers welcome the 6-4 Giants to town for three games, beginning with an ace-off on Friday night with Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner.
Home runs: none
WP - J.P. Howell (1-1): 1 IP, 1 strikeout
LP - Randal Delgado (0-1): 0 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs
Sv - Kenley Jansen (4): 1 IP, 1 strikeout