The Dodgers bullpen walked a tightrope all night, but after some earlier acrobatic moves to escape harm, the bottom finally fell out in spectacular fashion. The Diamondbacks rallied for nine runs to capture the series opener, 13-5 on Friday night at Chase Field in Phoenix.
The trouble started in the sixth inning, when Pedro Baez walked the first two batters in a tie game, then a passed ball but the go-ahead runs in scoring position. He recovered with two strikeouts, then got a pop out to end the frame.
In the seventh inning with a one-run lead, Paul Goldschmidt hit a ball to the center field wall off Ross Stripling, a relatively easy triple but one that was changed to a ground-rule double on replay review. A potential sacrifice fly to left field was instead the second out, and Goldschmidt was stranded at third.
Stripling allowed a pair of hard-hit balls to start the eighth inning, but after Brandon Drury doubled, he didn’t score the tying run on David Peralta’s single because third base coach Tony Perezchica fell down while signaling Drury to keep running home, and Drury stayed put.
It was then that the Dodgers stopped getting the breaks.
Luis Avilan relieved Stripling but walked both batters he faced, forcing home the tying run.
Sergio Romo followed and immediately balked home the go-ahead run, then after a strikeout walked the bases loaded again. A two-run single by Goldschmidt widened the lead, then after an intentional walk Yasmany Tomas followed with a two-run double.
Sergio Romo's balk tonight was his first in the majors, 2nd as a pro, 1st since 2005 with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of Northwest League— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) April 22, 2017
Romo stayed in for one more walk before departing, then Josh Fields allowed a two-run single to Chris Iannetta, who walked as a pinch-hitter earlier in the inning.
The damage in the bottom of the eighth was this: nine runs, six hits, five walks, a balk, and 57 excruciating pitches.
The Dodgers bullpen allowed eight runs in the first 16 games of the season, then tonight’s eighth inning happened.
Rise like a Phoenix
Chris Taylor hit his first major league home run last July 15 in Phoenix, a grand slam that was part of a three-extra-base-hit, six-RBI night.
On Friday he pinch hit in the seventh inning and hit a go-ahead shot against Archie Bradley — the first pinch-hit home run by a Dodger this season — Taylor is now 6-for-10 in his career at Chase Field, with two home runs, a triple, a double, a walk, and seven RBI.
Joc Pederson batted leadoff for the Dodgers for the first time this season on Friday night, and paid dividends with a single, a double, and two runs scored. He also narrowly missed a home run on his 25th birthday, a long drive with plenty of distance down the right field line in the seventh inning but just a few feet foul.
A.J. Pollock was in the middle of everything most of the night for the Diamondbacks as well, also batting first. He homered in the first inning, then doubled and scored in the third. Pollock added a single for good measure, too.
But because baseball is always weird, Pollock — who fell a triple shy of the cycle — struck out twice in the eighth inning.
Short on the spot
Alex Wood wasn’t exactly cruising, having allowed a home run and two doubles earlier, but he retired six of eight batters through one out in the fifth, and had six strikeouts and no walks to that point, with a 3-2 lead.
Then, just 13 pitches later, the lead was gone and Wood’s night was done. He allowed a single to Pollock, then after a throwing error on a force out, Paul Goldschmidt was walked with first base open. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position, and a single by Jake Lamb delivered Arizona a 4-3 lead.
Left-handers were 0-for-14 against Wood this season heading into Friday night, and 0-for-26 dating back to last season. That extended to 0-for-27 when Lamb struck out in the fifth, but the skid was snapped with a David Peralta single in the second inning, before Lamb delivered the knockout blow three innings later.
Wood threw just 76 pitches but was pulled after 4⅔ innings, the sixth time in 17 games this season that a Dodgers starter has failed to complete five innings.
Corey Seager had three hits, including a home run, and drove in three runs in the loss.
The Dodgers turn to Kenta Maeda on Saturday evening, a 5:10 p.m. PT start. He’ll face off against Robbie Ray, the 10th time the Dodgers will face a left-handed starting pitcher in their first 18 games.
Home runs: Corey Seager (3), Chris Taylor (1); A.J. Pollock (2)
WP - Archie Bradley (1-0): 2 IP, 2 hits, 1 run, 1 strikeout
LP - Ross Stripling (0-1): 1+ IP, 3 hits, 2 runs