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Home runs doom Dodgers in streak-snapping loss to Astros

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LA’s win streak halted at 8 games

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Houston Astros Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Errant throws annoyed the Dodgers on Wednesday night, but home runs killed them in a 5-2 loss to the Astros on Wednesday night at Minute Maid Park in Houston, snapping an eight-game winning streak.

Trevor Bauer took the loss — his first in 10 starts against Houston — though he was mostly fine, allowing only two solo home runs in his six innings. But that Bauer didn’t last longer was partially due to walking a season-high four for the third time in five May starts. Three of those walks came in the first inning, when Bauer threw 37 pitches, helping his odometer get to 100 through six innings.

Luis García, the Astros rookie starter, also needed 100 pitches to get through six, also thanks to an inning that simply got away from him. He needed 39 pitches to get through the third inning, a rally that was aided by a two-out error by García to extend things.

Max Muncy singled home one run, but the Dodgers, like the Astros in the first, left the bases loaded, unable to add to the carnage.

The run was the 108th scored this season by the Dodgers with two outs, most in the majors.

Nate Jones was the first call out of the bullpen, down a run — what Dave Roberts calls a “minus game,” and a day before the Dodgers are planning a bullpen game — but his second outing with the Dodgers wasn’t as productive as his first.

After the wildness from Bauer, the throws that were off in the seventh inning came from Dodgers fielders. First by Gavin Lux, who rushed a throw with catcher Martin Maldonado running, causing it to sail into the dugout. Then with Maldonado trying to score from second on a single to right field, Mookie Betts made a poor throw home that with any accuracy would have nailed Maldonado. Instead, a short hop eluded Will Smith and the Astros widened their lead to 3-1.

But before the Dodgers could even stew over the poor defense that cost them a run, Aledmys Díaz jumped on a first-pitch two-seamer from Jones, lining it into the Crawford Boxes for a two-run shot, making it all moot.

All Betts are off

Betts was hitless in four at-bats in Wednesday’s game, though he did reach on a fielding error by Luis García in the third that helped extend the inning. On the season, Betts is hitting just .247/.359/.432, which in this offensive environment still garners a 124 wRC+. That’s well above average, but would be the worst since 2017 for Betts, who owns a career 135 wRC+.

He missed four games in April with back soreness, and was held out for two games last weekend with left shoulder soreness, both times coupled with scheduled team off days to allow Betts extra rest. Meeting with reporters on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park, Betts wasn’t making any excuses.

From Bill Plunkett at the Orange County Register:

Betts denies injuries are the explanation. He says the back injury that sidelined him for four games in April has gone away. The shoulder soreness that caused Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to scratch Betts from the lineup Sunday had bothered him for about two weeks but “wasn’t that big of a deal … No reason for my performance.” The back and shoulder issues are “just the nicks and bruises that kind of go on throughout the season that you just play through.”

Dave Roberts has mentioned at times this season that Betts was working on things mechanically with his swing. On Wednesday, Betts elaborated, per Jorge Castillo at the Los Angeles Times:

“It’s kind of like a moving target right now,” Betts said. “Trying to take it in the air and then I start popping it up too much. And then I [try] to get it lower and I start hitting it on the ground too much. I don’t have an answer.”

Wednesday particulars

Home runs: Sheldon Neuse (3); Jose Altuve (6), Carlos Correa (7), Aledmys Díaz (2)

WP — Luis García (3-3): 6 IP, 2 hits, 1 unearned run, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts

LP — Trevor Bauer (5-3): 6 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 4 walks, 3 strikeouts

Sv — Bryan Abreu (1): 1 IP, 2 walks, 1 strikeout

Up next

The Dodgers start a four-game series against the Giants on Thursday night at Dodger Stadium (7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA, MLB Network). It’s a bullpen game for the Dodgers — please, try to contain your excitement — while the Giants haven’t yet announced their starting pitchers for the series.