The result appeared on the out-of-town scoreboard during the third inning at Dodger Stadium on Friday night: Atlanta Braves 6, San Francisco Giants 5. Final. And, finally, a chance for the Dodgers to gain ground on the first-place Giants in their pursuit of a ninth straight National League West title.
The Dodgers, fresh off a three-game sweep of the San Diego Padres, had won 16 of 18 games entering Friday, but the Giants had been nearly as good, keeping the Dodgers in second place with the best record in the majors.
To capitalize on San Francisco’s rare lapse, the Dodgers had to topple the Colorado Rockies, an uninspiring club wallowing in fourth place. That didn’t happen. The Dodgers wasted the chance losing 4-2, to remain 2½ games behind the Giants with 33 games remaining in the regular season.
A left-handed starting pitcher again stymied the Dodgers, who entered Friday with the third-worst batting average against lefties in the majors.
Two days after Padres lefty Blake Snell held them to one run over 7 2/3 innings, they scored two runs and tallied four hits in six innings against Rockies left-hander Kyle Freeland.
In all, they struck out 12 times and didn’t walk once against four Rockies pitchers. Their only offensive production came on solo home runs from Will Smith and Trea Turner in the third inning. The loss ended in pointed frustration after Corey Seager struck out looking at a pitch off the plate and AJ Pollock struck out attempting to check his swing for the game’s final two outs.
“That inning certainly didn’t cost us the game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I think overall tonight, punching out 12 times, no walks, not a good performance offensively.”
The Dodgers (81-48) chose to have right-hander Brusdar Graterol open the game before inserting Andre Jackson for multiple innings. The plan immediately backfired. Graterol surrendered a two-run home run to Charlie Blackmon in the first inning. It was just Blackmon’s second home run in 215 plate appearances outside of hitter heaven Coors Field this season.
Jackson replaced Graterol to start the second inning for his second career appearance. He logged four scoreless innings until C.J. Cron blasted a 431-foot leadoff homer in the sixth inning.
The 25-year-old right-hander gave up the one run on four hits across 4 2/3 innings after logging four scoreless innings in his major-league debut.
Cron’s home run gave the Rockies (59-69) the lead after Smith and Turner tagged Freeland. Elias Díaz padded Colorado’s margin with a solo homer in the ninth inning off Alex Vesia, who didn’t yield a hit in his first nine appearances this month.
Clayton Kershaw, on the injured list with forearm inflammation since July 7, threw his second bullpen session of the week Friday afternoon. Unlike his first session Tuesday in San Diego, Kershaw mixed in breaking balls. Kershaw is expected to throw a more intense bullpen session Monday if he rebounds well Saturday.
“He’s still not, obviously, ripping it at 100 percent, but it was a positive day for Clayton,” Roberts said.
Kershaw is working to return as a starter, but he might not have enough time to build the arm strength for a starter’s workload. That opens the possibility of him returning as a reliever — if he returns at all.
Betts likely to play second
In another sign that Betts’ right hip injury remains a concern, Roberts said Betts will start at second base Saturday to limit the stress on his hip if he emerges from Friday’s game without a setback.
“I think to run out to right field every night, to cover the ground out there on a flyball, ball in the gap, down the line, whatever it might be, to kind of minimize that a little bit,” Roberts said. “If there’s opportunities that we can get him at second base, I’m going to try to do that.”
Muncy wasn’t in the Dodgers’ starting lineup Friday for the second straight game as he deals with back tightness. Roberts said he expects Muncy will be in the lineup Saturday. … Left-hander Darien Núñez was sent to triple-A Oklahoma City before Friday’s game to make room on the roster for Jackson.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.
Source: Yahoo Sports