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Justin Verlander proves too much for the Dodgers in the opener

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MLB: Houston Astros at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball is a funny game. One night could bring 18 hits and 21 runs, while the next could bring next to none. The Dodgers followed up Thursday’s record-breaking performance by being steamrolled by Justin Verlander.

It was a promising start for the Dodgers when Joc Pederson hit Verlander’s fourth pitch of the night into the seats down the right field line. But that would be about it for the Dodgers as they dropped the opener by the score of 2-1.

The loss drops the Dodgers back into a tie with the Diamondbacks who beat the Giants Friday.

Always a tough customer, Verlander struck out 14 over 7 23 innings, allowing just four hits and a walk. Los Angeles only had one plate appearance with a runner in scoring position all game, and that came with two outs in the eighth with Verlander sitting on the bench.

Chris Taylor led off the inning with a single before the Astros’ ace got Brian Dozier to fly out on the first pitch. Pederson worked a 3-0 count and came out of his shoes to drill a 96-mph foul down the right field line. Two pitches later he would strike out, bringing Hector Rendon out of Houston’s bullpen to face Manny Machado.

Taylor would steal second but would be stranded when Machado popped out to right, ending the frame.

Alex Wood continued his recent string of strong pitching, holding the Astros to two runs on four hits. Both runs came on one play when Cody Bellinger misplayed a base hit in the gap off the bat of George Springer — because of course it was Springer.

With runners on first and third, Springer smacked a two-out single into the gap in left-center. Trying to quickly cut the ball off, Bellinger booted it towards Pederson in left.

Martin Maldonado was already scoring on the play, but by the time Pederson got the ball back to the infield, Jake Marisnick came around from first base to score what would turn out to be the winning run.

Rendon had no problems in the ninth, getting the Dodgers in order to shut the door.

Cause for concern?

Wood went back out for the seventh inning after 105 pitches to that point. But he wouldn’t throw a pitch because manager Dave Roberts came out with a trainer to pull him from the game.

After the game, Roberts explained that Wood was only going to pitch to Verlander in that inning and he noticed his lefty stretching out his hamstring area. With only one more hitter to get, there was no point in letting Wood continue.

Up Next

The Dodgers and Astros do it again Saturday with Kenta Maeda (7-6, 3.48) and Lance McCullers (10-6, 4.06)

Friday particulars

Home runs: Pederson (17)

WP - Justin Verlander (11-6): 7 23 IP, 4 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 14 strikeouts

LP - Alex Wood (7-6): 6 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), 3 walks, 4 strikeouts

SV - Hector Rondon (11): 1 13 IP, 2 strikeouts