The Arizona Diamondbacks drop the first game in an important three-game set to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
LOS ANGELES – In the way this one began, lefty Patrick Corbin of the Arizona Diamondbacks defaulted on a signature responsibility of a starting pitcher. Burden with a high pitch count and surrendering a plethora of extra-bases hits, Corbin simply failed to keep his team in the game.
In the initial contest of a critical three-game set against the National League West Division-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, Corbin was behind from the start. In the end, that was little consolation. That’s because the Diamondbacks faced seven-time All-Star Clayton Kershaw, who was at the top of his game.
Making his 18th start of the season, Kershaw was masterful. Allowing the Diamondbacks only four base runners (two singles, two walks) in seven stellar innings of work, Kershaw increased his season mark to 13-2 and lowered his season ERA to 2.19 with a 4-3 victory over Arizona before 53,159, the fourth sell-out of the season at Dodger Stadium.
The final outcome was not as close the score indicated. The Dodgers were cruising into the ninth with a 4-0 lead, but the bullpen hit a roadblock. With two on, two out and down to their final hitter, Daniel Descalso slammed a three-run homer off closer Kenley Jensen, and that cut the final margin to one run. After Jake Lamb, as a pinch-hitter drew a walk, Chris Herrmann, also a pinch-hitter, fanned looking to end the game.
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Yet, the night belonged to Kershaw. Allowing a pair of walks to catcher Chris Iannetta as the only Arizona base runners through six innings, Kershaw was unstoppable. Eventually, he lost his bid for a second career no-hitter with one out in the seventh. Chris Owings was jammed and hit a soft ground ball in the hole between first and second. When first baseman Cody Bellinger went to his right and second baseman Logan Forsythe, to his left, both went for the ball, Kershaw was late covering and Owings raced to the bag for the initial Arizona hit.
For his effort, Kershaw left after those seven strong frames in which he allowed two singles, walked two and fanned 11 hitters. Overall, Kershaw threw 117 pitches and hit the strike zone 76 times.
Meanwhile, Corbin suffered from an elevated pitch count early and by the time manager Torey Lovullo lifted the native of Clay, N. Y. with two outs in the fifth inning, Corbin reached 109 pitches. At the moment he was pulled, Corbin allowed seven hits and left trailing 3-0. After absorbing his eighth defeat against six wins, Corbin told Venom Strikes his high count represented a principal catalyst for his defeat.
"“I was over 100 pitches and I have to do a better job of getting ahead of hitters,” he said. “They made it tough on me. Overall, I thought my change was good, and that’s something I can use into the future.”"
From an offensive vantage, there was no voltage.
Until Kershaw lost his no-hitter, the most energetic at-bat was turned by A. J. Pollock. Leading off the game, Pollock forced Kershaw into an eight pitch at-bat before flying to center field. From there, the Diamondbacks managed runners on first and third with two out in the seventh. That’s when Descalso grounded to second and ended the threat.
Later, Pollock doubled with two out in the eighth, but David Peralta lined out to end the inning. Against relievers Brandon Morrow and Jensen in the ninth, the Diamondbacks managed to grind out three runs and allow Lovullo the opportunity to continue a common refrain of his club.
"“We knew facing (Kershaw) would be a battle, but we were to get into their bullpen and do some damage,” he said. “Our guys continue to battle back every night, and a game is never over until the final out.”"
Despite the defeat, the Diamondbacks’ season record of 52-32 is the best mark in the history of the franchise for their first 84 games. In 2001, the team recorded a 51-33 start, and that was previous best.
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The Dodgers series continues on Wednesday night. Look for right-hander Zack Godley (3-2, 2.67 ERA) to start for Arizona and draw lefty Alex Wood (9-0, 1.83) as his opponent. In the series finale Thursday night, left-hander Robbie Ray (8-4, 3.06) will get the ball from Lovullo and takes on lefty Rich Hill (5-4, 4.00).
The Diamondbacks then return to Chase Field to conclude the first-half of their season. The Cincinnati Reds provide the opposition for the three-game set, and righty Zack Grienke will open the series for Arizona on Friday night.