Julio Urías had a disastrous first start back off the injured list, digging a hole the Dodgers couldn’t climb out of in a 6-4 loss to the Royals on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
Urías wasn’t sharp and couldn’t put people way, and paid the price when softly batted balls found dirt and grass into a poor Dodgers defense having one of its worst nights. The left-hander needed 35 pitches to get through his first major league inning in six weeks, eight of which were fouled off by Nick Pratto in a 12-pitch walk that was part of a five-run frame.
Three bloop singles landed in the opening inning, one on soft pop to second base when Miguel Vargas was running to cover second base on a steal attempt and couldn’t get back in time. Another fell when James Outman in center field was slow coming in.
Kansas City in the first inning scored on a sacrifice fly to shallow center, fielded by a backpedalling Vargas instead of Outman coming in, allowing the speedy Bobby Witt Jr. to score with ease. The Royals also scored on a more traditional sacrifice fly to right field, even though the throw home beat Salvador Perez, he evaded the lunging tag by catcher Will Smith, who was unable to repeat his back-to-back defensive heroics last week in Anaheim.
The taxing first and the long layoff on the injured list ended the night for Urías at only three innings, needing 66 pitches to get his nine outs.
Dodgers hitters immediately answered the five-run first with three runs in the top of the second. The bottom of the lineup set the table, followed by consecutive run-scoring plays by Yonny Hernández, Mookie Betts, and Freddie Freeman.
Left-hander Daniel Lynch, like Urías, labored through his start, including 34 pitches in the second inning alone. The Dodgers made him work for 108 pitches, but Lynch got through five innings without another run charged to his ledger, stranding runners in scoring position in the first, third, and fifth innings.
While the Dodgers had trouble capitalizing after the second inning, the Royals took advantage of the situation in the seventh. Dairon Blanco reached when pitcher Ryan Brasier dropped a feed from Freeman on a groundball to first base. Blanco then stole both second and third before scoring on Kansas City’s third sacrifice fly of the game.
The Dodgers have allowed 103 stolen bases this season, most in the majors. The pitchers are so prone to giving up extra bases that even if you remove Noah Syndergaard’s MLB-high 20 steals allowed, the Dodgers still have allowed more than any other team.
The unearned run was really the only blemish against the Dodgers bullpen, who got two innings each from Phil Bickford and Brasier, followed by a scoreless eight from Brusdar Graterol.
After the insurance run by the Royals in the seventh, the Dodgers rallied for a run in the eighth, but closer Scott Barlow was called upon with two outs in the frame. The Dodgers were down two, had two runners on, and two outs for Betts, who walked to load the bases. But Freeman grounded out to extinguish the rally.
Barlow, the former Dodgers minor leaguer and likely hot commodity at this year’s August 1 trade deadline with his 33-percent strikeout rate, got through the ninth inning as well in short order for his 10th save.
The start of the game was delayed by rain for 85 minutes, the second time in three days the Dodgers had to wait to begin a game. Thursday night in Denver was delayed by 110 minutes by rain and hail.
Betts walked twice, doubled, and had a sacrifice fly in his five plate appearances. In his last four games, he’s reached base 16 times in 20 plate appearances and raised his OPS from .852 to .930.
Kansas City’s three sacrifice flies are the most allowed by the Dodgers since May 7, 2010 against Colorado.
Home runs: none
WP — Daniel Lynch (2-3): 5 IP, 5 hits, 3 runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
LP — Julio Urías (5-5): 3 IP, 6 hits, 5 runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
Sv — Scott Barlow (10): 1⅓ IP, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
The Dodgers go for the series win in the road trip finale on Sunday (11:10 a.m. PT, SportsNet LA), with Tony Gonsolin starting against Royals right-hander Brady Singer.