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Despite late comeback, Dodgers’ bid for 5th straight win falls short

Houston Astros v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

For the second straight day the Dodgers staged a late comeback, buoyed by a suddenly hot bullpen, but it wasn’t enough. The Astros cashed in the free runner in both extra innings while the Dodgers only did so once in a 6-5 loss to Houston in 11 innings on Sunday evening at Dodger Stadium.

It was a mostly sleepy Sunday for the Dodgers offense that was held to just one run on three hits in the first seven innings, before springing to life in the eighth.

Freddie Freeman doubled home Mookie Betts to pull the Dodgers within two runs, collecting his 2,000th career hit along the way. Freeman is the 13th player to get his 2,000th career hit while with the Dodgers.

Will Smith followed with a home run to center off Rafael Montero to tie the game at 4-4, a remarkable rally that started with two outs and nobody on in the inning.

After the Astros scored a run in the 10th inning, the Dodgers cashed in the free runner thanks to a groundout and a Betts sacrifice fly.

Down a run in the 11th, the Dodgers’ best chance was a hard grounder up the middle by Smith, but instead of an RBI single, Mauricio Dubón made an excellent diving stop and threw Smith out at first, holding the tying run at third. Pinch-hitter Miguel Vargas struck out and David Peralta grounded out to end the Dodgers’ latest comeback attempt.

Early power

Betts has made a habit of leading off games with a home run. He did so again on Sunday off of Hunter Brown, just like he did on Friday against J.P. France. Betts almost had a weekend hat trick, only his first-inning drive on Saturday was caught over the left field wall by a leaping Corey Julks.

Betts has eight home runs leading off a game this season, tied with Joc Pederson in 2018 for the most in a season in Dodgers history. Pederson holds the record with nine such home runs in 2019. There are 85 games remaining on this year’s schedule.

But the Dodgers offense stalled after the home run, collecting only two more hits off Brown in six innings.

One of them was a double against the shift in the sixth inning by Freeman, the 1,999th hit of his career, setting the stage for the later milestone.

Down a notch

Tony Gonsolin had a pair of center-cut splitters punished, with two-run home runs by Jeremy Peña in the second inning and José Abreu in the fourth. Outside of those four runs, Gonsolin allowed only two singles, but was pulled after five innings and only 61 pitches.

Gonsolin’s fastball velocity was down again, averaging 91.4 mph on Sunday. He’s averaged under 92 mph on the pitch in each of his last four starts, and entered the game at 92.3 mph on the season, down a tick from last year.

Six relievers followed Gonsolin, throwing one inning apiece. Brusdar Graterol allowed the free runner to score in the 10th and Yency Almonte did so in the 11th to take the loss. But those runs are unearned, and the Dodgers bullpen this week allowed three runs (one earned) in 25 innings.

Sunday particulars

Home runs: Mookie Betts (19), Will Smith (12); Jeremy Peña (9), José Abreu (5)

WP — Ryan Pressly (2-2): 2 IP, 1 unearned run, 1 strikeout

LP — Yency Almonte (3-1): 1 IP, 2 hits, 1 unearned run, 1 strikeout

Sv — Seth Martinez (1): 1 IP, 1 strikeout

Up next

The Dodgers are off Monday, when they will fly to Denver to play the Rockies for three games at Coors Field. Clayton Kershaw starts Tuesday night (5:40 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA), with right-hander Connor Seabold pitching for Colorado.