Diamondbacks Take Advantage of Mistakes, Defeat Dodgers on the Road

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Diamondbacks 5, Dodgers 2

LOS ANGELES, July 9 — The Arizona Diamondbacks took advantage of seven walks — including two with the bases loaded — and two opponent errors to down the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5–2, Friday night. This was only their second road win since April 25.

Diamondbacks Miss Early Opportunities, Dodgers Take Lead

The Diamondbacks threatened in the top of the first. With one out, right fielder Josh Rojas lined a single to left and, after second baseman Eduardo Escobar popped to second, advanced to third on a ground-rule double by first baseman Christian Walker. Dodgers pitcher David Price loaded the bases when he hit left fielder David Peralta with a pitch, but it did not matter, as third baseman Asdrubal Cabrera struck out swinging to retire the side. Diamondbacks starting pitcher Taylor Widener faced four in the bottom of the inning, with the only baserunner coming on a two-out single up the middle by third baseman Justin Turner.

The Diamondbacks stranded another runner in scoring position — their third of the game — in the top of the second. Center fielder Pavin Smith led off with a walk and advanced to second on a one-out sacrifice bunt by Widener, but a fly to right by Ahmed rendered it moot.

Widener pitched a 1-2-3 bottom of the second. His team had another chance to take the lead in the top of the third, as consecutive one-out singles by Escobar and Walker gave Peralta another RBI opportunity. He frustrated himself with a swinging strikeout, bringing up Cabrera, who smacked a grounder back up the middle. Twenty years ago, that would have been an RBI single, but in the days of the overshift, it was a side-retiring groundout to the second baseman.

Pollock Strikes at Former Team

Wasted opportunities often come back to haunt a team, and in the bottom of the third, it did. Left fielder and former Diamondback AJ Pollock sent an 0–1 fastball over the fence in right-center for a solo home run, giving the Dodgers a 1–0 lead. Three batters later, first baseman Max Muncy ripped a two-out double to the gap in left-center, but a called strikeout by Turner left him stranded. This made it 1–0 Dodgers at the end of three.

Home Run Quiets Crowd — at Least Temporarily

The Diamondbacks finally capitalized in the top of the fifth off major league debutant Darien Nuñez, pitching his second inning of relief. After Ahmed — the leadoff hitter — reached on a two-base fielding error by Turner, Rojas struck out. However, Escobar followed with a paint-scraping home run to right on a 2–2 sinker. This quieted the crowd of 49,215 as the Diamondbacks took a 2–1 lead.

The Dodgers threatened in the bottom of the fifth after shortstop Gavin Lux and Pollock led off with back-to-back walks. Pinch-hitter Matt Beaty could not capitalize, popping to first on the infield fly rule for the first out. After Widener left in favor of Brett de Geus, Betts grounded into a 4–6 fielder’s choice before Muncy smoked a liner toward first. Walker showed his goalie-like reflexes as he snagged the laser for the third out, stranding runners on the corners.

After the Diamondbacks wasted a one-out double by Pavin Smith in the sixth, the Dodgers threatened again in the bottom of the inning. Center fielder Cody Bellinger reached on a one-out walk before advancing to second on a single by catcher Will Smith. A fly to right by second baseman Chris Taylor advanced Bellinger to third on a tag-up, but a broken bat one-hopper to first by Lux squelched the rally and ended the inning.

Putting the Game Away

The Diamondbacks extended their lead in the top of the seventh off new pitcher Joe Kelly. A one-out walk by Rojas started it all. Escobar followed with a grounder to first, but a fielding error by Muncy allowed Rojas to reach third as Escobar coasted safely into first. Kelly drilled Walker on the elbow to load the bases for Peralta, who hit a slow chopper up the middle. Taylor got to it, but his only play was at second, and the throw was too late to nab Walker. On the play, Rojas scored, making the score 3–1. Consecutive strikeouts by Cabrera and Smith made that the only run of the inning.

The Dodgers got one back in the seventh against new pitcher J.B. Bukauskas. After a leadoff double by Pollock and runner-advancing grounder to second by pinch-hitter Zach McKinstry, Betts smacked an RBI groundout to third. Scott Alexander and Noe Ramirez combined to pitch a scoreless eighth for the Dodgers and Diamondbacks, respectively.

The Diamondbacks tacked two on in the ninth off new pitcher Edwin Uceta. After the Diamondbacks loaded the bases on a walk by Walker, a single by Peralta, and a walk by pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt, catcher Daulton Varsho drew an RBI walk. This chased Uceta out of the game in favor of Jake Reed. The first hitter he faced — Reddick — drew a four-pitch walk, drawing louder boos than usual from the still-bitter-from-2017 crowd as the Diamondbacks took a 5–2 lead. Joakim Soria pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to slam the door and earn his third save of the season.

Postgame Reflections

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo praised Widener, who last pitched May 23 in a five-out stint in Colorado, after the game. “He gave us exactly what we needed, and I thought he was solid up until that fifth inning. I think he just ran out of gas. That was how it looked to me. I think there was a lot of built-in anxiety and excitement, and I think he kept it together. The first couple of guys getting on in the fifth was a signal to me. But I thought he was outstanding all the way up to that point — attacking the zone, down fastball, up when he needed to, and did a solid job.”

Widener added, “I felt really good the first four innings and got a little tired there in the fifth. But I think it’s a good foundation for me to build off of, and I’m excited to keep going forward. I felt like I had a pretty good mix of all of my pitches tonight, and Varsho called a great game. Me and him were on the same page. I had three pitches I could throw for a strike most of the night until that fifth inning, when I got a little tired.”

Looking Ahead

For getting the two huge outs in the fifth, and due to Widener not pitching the required five innings, de Geus (1–0) was awarded the win in relief. Darien Nuñez (0–1) took the loss. The two teams play again Saturday night at 7:10 pm Pacific. Left-hander Caleb Smith (2–5, 3.45 ERA) and righty Walker Buehler (8–1, 2.49 ERA) will start for the Diamondbacks and Dodgers, respectively.

Main Photo:
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Players mentioned:

Josh Rojas, Eduardo Escobar, Christian Walker, David Price, David Peralta, Asdrubal Cabrera, Taylor Widener, Justin Turner, Pavin Smith, AJ Pollock, Max Muncy, Gavin Lux, Matt Beaty, Brett de Geus, Cody Bellinger, Will Smith, Chris Taylor, Joe Kelly, J.B. Bukauskas, Zach McKinstry, Scott Alexander, Noe Ramirez, Edwin Uceta, Stephen Vogt, Daulton Varsho, Jake Reed, Joakim Soria, Torey Lovullo, Caleb Smith, Walker Buehler