The Dodgers by all accounts had no business winning this game.
But before Fernando Rodney knew what hit him, the Dodgers rallied for four runs without making an out in the ninth inning, stunning the Diamondbacks with a 5-4 comeback win to somehow, some way complete a three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers struck out 16 times on Thursday night, but they also walked 10 times, including four times against Rodney in the ninth to steal one.
Down 4-1 to start the ninth, Yasiel Puig greeted Rodney with a single to right field, then all of a sudden Rodney couldn’t find the strike zone, walking three in succession to force in a run.
Corey Seager hit a two-run single to tie the game, then Rodney intentionally walked Justin Turner, and Arizona made a pitching change, bringing in T.J. McFarland to face Chris Taylor, batting cleanup for the first time in his career.
Taylor, who had two doubles and a single earlier in the game, singled to deep left field for his fourth hit of the game to give the Dodgers their fifth walk-off win of the season.
With the bases loaded this season, Taylor is 4-for-5 with three grand slams, four walks, and 17 RBI.
The Dodgers now find themselves 6-0 in divisional showdown series at home in the last two weeks, and 5½ games ahead of Arizona in the NL West.
This looks familiar
The Dodgers during their famous 42-8 run in 2013 won a game against the Rays that saw them down 6-0 in the seventh inning against peak David Price, a game they somehow won 7-6, culminating in a rally against Rodney in the ninth inning that saw him literally throw the game away.
Two weeks ago, when the Dodgers came back from down 5-0 to beat the Rockies 12-6, a comeback fueled by five straight runs scored on wild pitches, I thought that was the equivalent of that 2013 comeback.
If we're comparing this 2017 team to the 2013 Dodgers that had the 42-8 run, today was the Fernando Rodney throwaway game— Eric Stephen (@truebluela) June 26, 2017
But after tonight, I stand corrected. They literally have another Fernando Rodney Game.
Rare relief troubles
Arizona looked to have this one locked up, after rallying against the Dodgers bullpen.
Jake Lamb entered Thursday a career .159/.254/.297 hitter against left-handed pitching, with seven home runs in 280 plate appearances, including .130/.231/.261 with two home runs in 78 PA against southpaws in 2017.
Naturally, both of his home runs Thursday were against lefties — Rich Hill in the fifth inning and Luis Avilan in the eighth.
Those were the first two home runs allowed by Avilan this season in 36 games and 101 batters faced.
One out later against Avilan, Ketel Marte crushed a ball three quarters of the way up the left pavilion for another solo home run, giving Arizona a two-run advantage.
On a day the Dodgers put Grant Dayton on the 10-day disabled list, and with Adam Liberatore sidelined for the last five weeks, Avilan is the only left-handed relief pitcher in the Dodgers bullpen at the moment, something that figures to be addressed before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
The D-backs added another run in the ninth inning on, of all things, a balk by Josh Fields. He got the win.
Hill followed the Dodgers pattern to perfection, continuing his midseason renaissance with seven strong innings, his third consecutive start lasting seven innings.
Hill struck out nine and walked none, his second start without a walk this season. The left-hander allowed just two hits and one run, a solo home run by Lamb.
The Dodgers got excellent starting pitching in this series, with Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood also lasting seven innings like Hill did on Thursday. That trio combined to allow one run on seven hits, with 30 strikeouts and four walks.
Hill had to be stingy on Thursday, because Robbie Ray was mowing down hitters like nobody’s business. The All-Star left-hander struck out a season-high 13 in his six innings.
Ray, like Hill, had only a fifth-inning home run as a stain on his ledger, this one by Logan Forsythe, who matched Lamb to tie the score at 1-1.
The Dodgers threatened against Ray a few other times, basically when Taylor doubled. That was once in the fourth inning and again in the sixth. Taylor gave the Dodgers runners in scoring position with no outs in both frames, but Ray recovered quite nicely, with five strikeouts and a ground out in those innings to escape any further trouble.
We are down to one more series before the All-Star break, with the Royals coming to town for three games. Kenta Maeda starts Friday’s opener for the Dodgers, a 7:10 p.m. PT start, against Jason Hammel for Kansas City.
Home runs: Logan Forsythe (3); Jake Lamb 2 (20), Ketel Marte (1)
WP - Josh Fields (4-0): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
LP - Fernando Rodney (3-3): 0 IP, 2 hits, 4 runs, 4 walks