Josh Beckett pitched his best game since becoming a Dodger on Sunday, April 14, 2013, only to lose because his team couldn't score. The Diamondbacks won, 1-0, in the bottom of the ninth inning. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Arizona is Josh Beckett country.
He’s appeared in advertisements for the National Rifle Association. He’s a hunter and once won the Muy Grande Deer Contest for bagging the biggest buck during Texas season.
And Sunday he brought down a bunch of bucks in Arizona in his best-pitched game in years before his swashbuckling caught up with him in losing a heartbreaker to the Diamondbacks, 1-0.
"No question, that was electric today," manager Don Mattingly said of Beckett’s outing. "His velocity, but his change (up) was good, too. He kept the ball down in the strike zone."
Of course, on a game like that, the blame has to be laid on the Dodgers’ Jekyll and Hyde offense, which on Sunday was monstrous in wasting Beckett’s outstanding performance.
Adrian Gonzalez accounted for three of the Dodgers’ hits, including a leadoff double in the seventh inning.
But Andre Ethier, A. J. Ellis and Luis Cruz failed to drive him in from second base.
Gonzalez’s 3-for-4 showing raised his average to .409.
The rest of the Dodger regulars were cold, however, most notably Matt Kemp who was hitless in four at-bats, striking out three times – and raising the obvious question:
When does manager Don Mattingly shake up the lineup, possibly moving Ethier into the clean-up spot?
Ethier was 1-for-3, and subbing third baseman Nick Punto had two hits, raising his part-time status batting average to .600.
Beckett actually outdueled the Diamondbacks’ Trevor Cahill who came out of the game with one out in the eighth inning, having given up all six hits to the Dodgers.
But his relievers – Tony Sipp, Brad Ziegler and J.J. Putz – strangled the Dodgers' bats.
"We’re disappointed obviously," Mattingly said. "We wasted a good outing, and so we’re a little disappointed. And their guys are pretty good, too.
"They made some pitches. Cahill, I thought that’s the best we’ve seen him."
Mattingly said he never considered pulling Beckett in the late innings.
"It was a no brainer," he said. "Really, it wasn’t even hard. There was no question there. It was his game. He was still throwing the ball really good in the eighth. He was throwing the ball good there.
"At that point, he’d pitched so good, and he’d really had no real battles all day long. It wasn’t like he was having to pitch out of a jam three or four times. He was pretty much rolling along."
Beckett was undone by a bad pitch on a 2-2 count with one out in the ninth inning after having retired 12 straight batters.
A.J. Pollack laced a pitch that was up in the strike zone into a gap. Miguel Monrero was walked intentionally, Beckett’s only base on balls,
Paul Goldschmidt then won the game on a ground ball to the left of second baseman Mark Ellis that scored Pollack, a walk off triumph that blemished Beckett’s own heroics.