LOS ANGELES — Friday the 13th proved to be a horror show for Kenta Maeda, who lacked command and looked every bit like a pitcher with just one inning under his belt in the previous 12 days. The Diamondbacks chased Maeda in the third inning, and though the Dodgers staged a series of late rallies their early hole proved too large to climb out of, falling 8-7 in the opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.
It was the 10th straight regular season loss to the Diamondbacks by the Dodgers, matching their longest such drought against any single team since moving to Los Angeles.
“We have to beat them at least once before the season’s over with,” said Matt Kemp.
Maeda walked the leadoff hitter in two of his three innings on Friday, including pitcher Zack Greinke in the third. Maeda needed 36 pitches to get just two outs in the third inning, a frame that saw him walk the pitcher, make a throwing error on a potential double play ball back to the box, throw one wild pitch and another passed ball on a pitch that crossed up catcher Yasmani Grandal.
A pair of two-out doubles by Chris Owings and Jarrod Dyson were the final nails in the coffin for Maeda, who was charged with five runs while recording eight outs. It was Maeda’s first start since March 31, with only one inning of relief pitched in between thanks to a bounty of off days plus a rainout.
“He wasn’t sharp. I thought the stuff was fine,” Dave Roberts said. “Obviously the throwing error changed the inning. It just got away from him.”
On a night that seemingly nothing was working for Maeda, he did manage to strike out Dodgers killer Paul Goldschmidt in both of their encounters Friday night. Such is baseball.
Chris Taylor got the Dodgers on the board early with a solo shot in the first inning, his second leadoff home run in three games, on a pitch that Greinke clearly wasn’t pleased with as his audible expletive can attest:
In between grunts and after the home run Greinke was visited by team trainers on the mound, needing to stretch out something that was bothering him on what looked like either his back or side. He allowed a single and hit a batter in the inning but also struck out three to get out of his own jam.
Greinke really settled down after hitting Grandal with a pitch in the first inning, retiring 12 straight batters before getting blindsided by a Kyle Farmer pinch-hit single in the fifth.
Daniel Descalso took to batting fourth like a moth to a flame. In his first ever start hitting cleanup, Descalso singled home a run in the first inning, hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning, then crushed a two-run home run against reliever Tony Cingrani in the seventh. Descalso drove in four runs on Friday night, one shy of his career high.
Both of his home runs this season are against the Dodgers.
The Dodgers chipped away at Greinke, who pitched into the seventh and saw two bequeathed runners score. The seventh-inning rally included a walk, a double, then three consecutive RBI ground ball singles. That pulled the Dodgers to within 7-5, which made the Descalso home run in the top of the inning even more important.
Cody Bellinger, who hit a solo home run against Greinke in the sixth inning, nearly hit another against Archie Bradley with runners on the corner in the seventh, but the ball died into the waiting glove of A.J. Pollock on the warning track in center field, despite the collective will of the bulk of the 43,791 in attendance at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.
Nick Ahmed tacked on a solo home run in the eighth, which proved important because the Dodgers rallied for more against Bradley. A single and two walks loaded the bases with one out for Chase Utley, whose sure double play ball up the middle instead caromed off second base into short left field for a two-run single, pulling the Dodgers to within one.
But Taylor followed by a double play ball that was unimpeded by any base, squashing the rally and stranding the tying run 90 feet away.
Kemp banged his right knee against the scoreboard on the left field wall trying to catch Nick Ahmed’s home run in the eighth inning, but remained in the game.
Roberts said Kemp had a contusion, which Kemp downplayed.
“It ain’t even nothing to write about,” Kemp said. “Trust me, I’ll be back in there tomorrow.”
The Dodgers play an earlier start on Saturday, with Rich Hill on the mound for a 6:10 p.m. PT start in the middle game of the series, against Yucaipa High grad Taijuan Walker.
Home runs: Chris Taylor (2), Cody Bellinger (2); Daniel Descalso (2), Nick Ahmed (2)
WP - Zack Greinke (1-1): 6⅓ IP, 5 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts
LP - Kenta Maeda (1-1): 2⅔ IP, 5 hits, 5 runs (2 earned), 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
Sv - Brad Boxberger (5): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout