Clayton Kershaw pitched seven innings of solid ball on Monday, but the bullpen could not manage to keep a two-run lead in the Dodgers 5-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
In his seven innings, Kershaw allowed six hits and two walks for one run while striking out five. The start lowered his ERA to 1.88, the best of any starter in the National League.
He left the game in position to win with the score 3-1, but things got a little out of control in the late innings. In the eighth, the Dodgers had bases loaded and no outs after three straight singles from Mark Ellis, Adrian Gonzalez, and Yasiel Puig.
Jerry Hairston grounded to third base for a 5-2-3 double play ball, but he clearly beat the throw to first base bringing Don Mattingly out to argue, and boos from the crowd. Andre Ethier came up with runners on second and third but flew out to center field to end the scoring threat.
There is no knowing if the blown call at first base kept a run from scoring, especially with the way the Dodgers have been hitting, but it is still frustrating having an out taken away in a bases loaded situation when insurance runs are needed.
The bullpen would have needed more than just one run of insurance though. Brandon League gave up four hits and a walk in the top of the ninth to make the score 4-3 Arizona, and Peter Moylan allowed an inherited runner to score for a 5-3 score going into the bottom of the ninth.
The Dodgers bullpen is now tied for the MLB lead in blown saves and bullpen losses. Brandon League's three-year $21 million contract is looking worse with each blown save.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Dodgers attempted to make it interesting, starting off with a Juan Uribe solo home run. Tim Federowicz then doubled, and Skip Schumaker laid down a sacrifice bunt and beat out the throw for runners on first and third with no outs.
Nick Punto, Mark Ellis and Adrian Gonzalez went down in order stranding the Dodgers seventh and eighth runners-on-base of the night. It's almost as if batting Nick Punto .135/.179/.162, since May 26th, and Mark Ellis .132/.233/.158, since May 26th, in the one and two holes of the batting order is not a good idea.
In the eighth and ninth inning the Dodgers stranded four runners.
It was the second of three nights that Yasiel Puig was left on deck with the game-tying runner on base. He continued his fantastic run going 3-4, making his career line .500/.515/.938.
The Dodgers dropped their third game in a row, bringing them nine games under .500 and 8.5 back in the NL West. On Tuesday they face Arizona for game two with Zach Greinke on the mound against Ian Kennedy.