PHOENIX — Opening Day starter Josh Collmenter was looking to get back on track against the Los Angeles Dodgers after lasting just 4.2 innings in his season debut last Monday.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were looking to get a sweep.
Neither happened Sunday afternoon at Chase Field, as the Dodgers beat the D-backs 7-4 to salvage a win in the series.
Collmenter worked around trouble early on. He picked off leadoff man Jimmy Rollins to end the first inning, he stranded Andre Ethier at third base in the second, and he got a strikeout and a groundout to end an ugly fourth inning, which featured four straight Dodgers singles and a run.
“There are times when you need to make pitches (to stay) in the game, and I was able to do that today. I just needed to make them before I put myself in those situations,” the pitcher said after the game.
The Dodgers ultimately hung three on Collmenter, forcing an exit after the fifth inning. Though manager Chip Hale said Collmenter had plenty left in his arm after leaving the game having thrown just 74 pitches, the skipper opted to pinch hit with Aaron Hill with two men on in the bottom of the fifth.
Unfortunately for the D-backs, a former Cy Young winner in Zack Greinke was dueling against Collmenter.
“He didn’t throw that badly; it was just that we were in a situation where Greinke was so good, we knew we weren’t going to get many shots at him,” Hale explained. “So when it came around to that time, I wanted to use a pinch hitter. (Collmenter) could have kept going.”
Greinke showed the same form that he had in his season debut last week against the Padres, holding the D-backs scoreless by scattering five hits with seven strikeouts over seven innings pitched.
The D-backs put just two men in scoring position against the Dodgers starter — both advancing no farther than second base. Left fielder Ender Inciarte doubled off of Dodgers reliever Pedro Baez in the eighth, becoming the third D-backs baserunner to get into scoring position Sunday.
Relief pitcher A.J. Schugel, who was called up Sunday morning from Triple-A Reno, made his major league debut in the game, covering the sixth, seventh and eighth innings in long relief for the D-backs. He allowed a pair of runs and a pair of walks, throwing 58 pitches in the game.
Left-hander Oliver Perez allowed two more runs in the ninth, when highly-touted Dodgers infield prospect Alex Guerrero hit the first home run of his career — a two-run shot to left field — to put Los Angeles up seven.
Though down 7-0 entering the ninth, the D-backs put together an impressive rally, loading the bases against relievers Paco Rodriguez and Chris Hatcher. Third baseman Jake Lamb got the inning going after singling on an odd play at first base, which saw Dodgers first baseman Scott Van Slyke slip on the infield dirt after collecting a grounder to his right. A Chris Owings double and a Cliff Pennington walk made things more interesting. Jordan Pacheco then singled home Lamb to get the D-backs on the board.
Center fielder A.J. Pollock battled out a seven-pitch at-bat with Hatcher to clear the bases with a double to the right field corner. With Pollock on second, Inciarte stepped in to face the Dodgers’ third reliever of the frame, Joel Peralta. A 10-pitch battle ensued, as Inciarte fouled off five two-strike offerings, but the outfielder ultimately flew out to deep left-center field to end the game.
The D-backs’ ninth-inning rally was encouraging to Hale, who praised Pollock, Inciarte and the other batters in the half-inning for their efforts, despite the circumstance.
Owings snapped an 0-for-14 spell to start the season with a ninth-inning pinch-hit double to the right field corner.
Another struggling young middle infielder, Nick Ahmed, went 2-for-4 on the day, raising his early season batting average from .083 to .188.
The D-backs finished their season-opening homestead 3-3, winning one series and dropping another.
Though entering the game with an 0.87 ERA in 20.2 innings — allowing just two runs in that span — the D-backs bullpen faltered Sunday, allowing twice as many runs as they have all season in the final four innings of the game.
D-backs batters struck out 11 times, including seven times to Greinke.
Though putting together a promising spring, Collmenter has not looked sharp in his first two outings for Arizona, struggling to locate his pitches and allowing an abundance of baserunners in both games. The San Francisco Giants reached base 11 times against the right-hander on Opening Day, and the Dodgers got aboard 10 times Sunday.
Paul Goldschmidt and David Peralta, who hit third and fourth Sunday, combined to go 0-for-8 with four strikeouts.
STAT OF THE DAY
The Dodgers snapped a 16-inning scoreless streak by D-backs pitchers in the third inning, when Joc Pederson reached on a double, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and was driven home by a sacrifice fly to center field.
HE SAID IT
“Those guys battled. It was good. That’s the attitude we have. It doesn’t matter what the score is or the situation, we’re going to battle to the end — 27 outs, offensively or defensively. So, I was proud of the guys.” – Hale on the D-backs’ ninth-inning outburst
Two power arms will face off at Petco Park on Monday. D-backs starting pitcher Rubby De La Rosa will oppose San Diego Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner.
Both pitchers struggled in their season debuts, with De La Rosa surrendering six runs in 5.1 innings against the Giants and Cashner allowing five runs in five innings to the Dodgers last week.
It will be the Arizona’s first road trip of the year, and fans will see former D-backs’ right fielder Justin Upton in left field for the new-look Padres. Another former D-backs player, Ian Kennedy, is rostered with San Diego, but currently on the disabled list.
First pitch Monday is at 7:10 p.m., and the game can be heard on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes prior.