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Sedona Red Recap: D-backs’ pitching struggles in NLDS Game 2 loss

Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Jimmie Sherfy is taken out of the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning of Game 2 of baseball's National League Division Series in Los Angeles, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

LOS ANGELES — The Arizona Diamondbacks came to Southern California looking for, at worst, a split of the first two games of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

They didn’t find what they were looking for.

Spurred by a four-run fifth inning, the Dodgers sealed an 8-5 win over the D-backs before 54,726 fans at Dodger Stadium to take a commanding 2-0 series lead.

The night started well for Arizona when A.J. Pollock drew a one-out walk against L.A. starter Rich Hill and Paul Goldschmidt followed with a mammoth two-run homer to left to give the D-backs their first lead of the series.

The Dodgers got on the board against Arizona’s Robbie Ray in the second when Kike Hernandez, who walked to lead off the inning, scored on a run-scoring groundout by Yasiel Puig.

Los Angeles grabbed the lead in the fourth inning when Logan Forsythe scored on a Ray wild pitch — one of three he uncorked in the game — and an infield single from Chris Taylor scored Austin Barnes.

That set the stage for the big fifth inning, which started when Ray plunked leadoff hitter Justin Turner. Cody Bellinger then reached on a fielder’s choice. At that point, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo went to his bullpen, opting to go with rookie Jimmie Sherfy.

That experiment didn’t work out.

Pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson started a string of four straight Dodger hits with a single to right. Forsythe singled in Bellinger then Barnes doubled, knocking in Granderson and Forsythe. Barnes would then score on a single by Puig.

The D-backs inched closer in the seventh, when pinch-hitter Brandon Drury rudely greeted Dodgers reliever Brandon Morrow, clubbing his first pitch deep into the left field seats to make it 7-5.

Los Angeles would get a run back in their half of the seventh when Forsythe scored on an error by shortstop Ketel Marte, who, with the infield drawn in and the bases loaded, allowed the ball to get right through his legs.

Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen made quick work of the D-backs, earning a five-out save to ensure Los Angeles held serve on its home field.

THE GOOD: Third baseman Jake Lamb was back in the lineup Saturday after sitting out Game 1 against Clayton Kershaw and had two more hits and a run scored. He’s now hitting .600 (6-for-10) in the postseason.

Goldschmidt’s first-inning home run was his fourth in seven career postseason games. It was also the 11th first-inning blast in this year’s MLB postseason.

THE BAD: It’s hard to avoid, it was the pitching…again. Ray, pitching on abnormal rest, struggled to find the plate all night. He allowed four hits and four earned runs over 4.1 innings. He also struck out six, threw three wild pitches and hit a batter.

Ray had an opportunity to elevate his profile for a team that really needed a “heroic” postseason performance, and he was staked with a two-run lead before he toed the rubber.

The D-backs’ recent disturbing trend of short stints by starters continued. In the team’s past 16 games, dating back to the middle of September, the Diamondbacks have had only one starter pitch past the fifth inning. Patrick Corbin pitched 6.2 innings in a 3-2 win over Miami on Sept. 24.

Little things went wrong for the D-backs as well. J.D. Martinez missed a cutoff man on a single to right in the fifth inning, allowing Curtis Granderson to take an extra base. Granderson would later score in the decisive frame. Marte’s error should have been a 6-2-3 double play as it was hit hard enough to a drawn-in infield. Instead, it turned into an insurance run for Jansen, the game’s best closer.

STAT OF THE GAME: After the top of the Dodgers’ order destroyed D-backs’ pitching in Game 1, Saturday it was lineup slots 5-8 that inflicted the bulk of the damage. Hernandez, Granderson, Forsythe, Barnes and Puig went a combined 9-for-15 with seven runs scored and six RBI.

HE SAID IT: “We never really got grounded or got into a flow or a rhythm throughout the entire game. Pitching sets the tone. I thought Robbie was doing an adequate job early. He wiggled out of some tough situations in the second inning and walked off the mound with the lead. And I feel like we were starting to reach that moment where we could start to take off a little bit, but we just couldn’t take advantage of some situations, and the Dodgers played catch-up, and they eventually made plays, made pitches and got big hits at the right time and did their job.” — Torey Lovullo

WHAT’S NEXT: The series shifts to Chase Field in Phoenix for Game 3 Monday night. Zack Greinke will take the mound for Arizona and he’ll be faced by veteran right-hander Yu Darvish. The game gets underway at 7 p.m. and can be heard on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station, your exclusive home for Arizona Diamondbacks playoff baseball.

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