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Dave Roberts’ decisions backfire in Dodgers’ latest loss to a last-place team

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MLB: Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Dodgers Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers got the worst of both worlds in a fifth-inning decision by manager Dave Roberts, turning the tide in yet another loss to a last-place team, 5-3 to the Reds on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium.

At 71 pitches through five innings, Ross Stripling was allowed to hit in the bottom of the fifth with runners on first and second base with two outs. Stripling, who has primarily been used in relief this year and last, was making his third start of the year and already at his longest outing since Aug. 31, 2016.

With the Dodgers up 3-1, Roberts was faced with the Sophie’s choice of going for a chance at more runs with a pinch hitter to help a struggling offense, or avoiding a scuffling bullpen by keeping Stripling in.

Roberts opted for the former by letting Stripling hit, and he struck out. The decision became more curious when Stripling was pulled after just two batters in the top of the sixth, after striking out Joey Votto and allowing a single to Scooter Gennett, who has 10 hits in first three games of this series.

It did not work out for the Dodgers.

J.T. Chargois entered, and got a sharp ground ball back to the box from Eugenio Suarez, his first batter faced. But the ball squirted away after hitting Chargois’ glove, ending any shot at an inning-ending double play. When Chargois couldn’t find the ball, it ended any shot at an out, too, and put the tying run on base.

As if on cue, old friend Scott Schebler followed with a drive that bounced off the top of the left field wall and over the fence for a three-run home run, giving Cincinnati the lead. Tucker Barnhart and Alex Blandino followed with doubles to tack on another run, adding the the woes of Chargois.

In his first 15 games of the season, Chargois allowed two runs and two extra-base hits in 13⅓ innings. But in his last two outings — Wednesday and Saturday — he allowed five runs in one inning, and four extra-base hits.

That wiped away a solid outing from Stripling, who struck out a career-high seven with no walks in his 5⅓ innings. He has a 2.20 ERA on the season with 31 strikeouts and nine walks in his 28⅔ innings.

On offense the Dodgers tried the First Citiwide Change Bank approach* against Homer Bailey, tallying 10 hits and two walks in his five innings, tied for their most hits against any single pitcher since the start of last season. But they were able to plate just three runs thanks to going 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position against him.

*Volume

After getting attacked in this series with high fastballs, including a swinging strikeout in the first inning, Cody Bellinger took advantage of a pitch down and in from Bailey in the third for his first home run in 10 games. It was a solo shot, as each of the Dodgers’ last eight home runs have been, dating back to May 2.

Bellinger also tried to bunt a 3-0 pitch down two runs with one out in the ninth. It was not nearly successful.

Down a pair in the eighth inning the Dodgers put the tying runs on base, and Yasiel Puig entered as a pinch hitter with one out. He lined a ball 95 mph but instead of a possible game-tying double in the left field corner it was right at Suarez at third base, who threw to second for an inning-ending double play.

The offensive frustrations for the Dodgers reached tangible status in the seventh inning for Chris Taylor, who doubled and scored earlier. This time though he struck out swinging, and nearly hit himself with his own bat once he got back to the dugout.

It’s been that kind of year for the Dodgers, who are 16-23.

Up next

The Dodgers and Reds conclude their series on Sunday afternoon with Rich Hill facing Luis Castillo, but not the former speedy Marlins second baseman.

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Cody Bellinger (5); Scott Schebler (4)

WP - Homer Bailey (1-5): 5 IP, 10 hits, 3 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts

LP - J.T. Chargois (1-1): ⅓ IP, 4 hits, 3 runs, 1 strikeout

Sv - Jared Hughes (1): 1⅔ IP, zeroes