ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Diamondbacks take fight to Dodgers, game slips away with walk-off loss

Jul 2, 2024, 11:53 PM | Updated: Jul 3, 2024, 1:57 am

Freddie Freeman...

Los Angeles Dodgers' Freddie Freeman, right, slides home past Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Gabriel Moreno to score off a walk off double hit by Teoscar Hernandez during the ninth inning a baseball game, Tuesday, July 2, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

(AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

LOS ANGELES — The Arizona Diamondbacks were in position to win Tuesday’s series opener at the Los Angeles Dodgers and should have, in the words of manager Torey Lovullo.

Joc Pederson pounded his chest after blasting a go-ahead home run against Los Angeles closer Evan Phillips in the ninth inning, yet the D-backs exited the field under flashing lights as Dodgers outfielder Teoscar Hernandez walked them off, 6-5.

D-backs closer Paul Sewald was a strike away from remaining perfect in save situations having already struck out superstar Shohei Ohtani. Freddie Freeman was down 0-2, a situation he entered Tuesday 5-for-30 in this year, with a runner on second. But he is also one of the best hitters in the world for a reason. Freeman ripped an 0-2 fastball just off the outside edge of the plate into right-center field for the game-tying double.

Hernandez hit a sharp grounder into left field to score Freeman and end a thrilling ballgame.

“I wasn’t afraid to put the winning run on base. We were talking about matchups, we were talking about count advantage, count disadvantage,” .

“We walked through just about every scenario and then we got 0-1, continued the conversation, we got 0-2 and it was firmly in place that we were gonna try to finish them off with an assortment of pitches that were not going to be anywhere near the strike zone. … I trusted my players, we just did not execute. A good hitter beat a really good closer, and it’s part of the game.”

It was a game the Diamondbacks (41-44) did not make easy on themselves.

They stranded the bases loaded with no outs in the fourth inning and stranded a runner on second with no outs in the eighth. Justin Martinez walked nine-hole hitter Gavin Lux before surrendering a go-ahead home run by Ohtani in the seventh inning.

Those moments added up despite Arizona’s continued fight to claw back in.

Christian Walker hit a two-run shot to tie the game 2-2 in the fourth inning. Ketel Marte put Arizona ahead with a single in the seventh. Jake McCarthy put down a terrific bunt in the eighth that Dodgers reliever Blake Treinen threw away, resulting in Gabriel Moreno scoring the game-tying run.

Ryne Nelson went five innings with one earned run in relief after Joe Mantiply opened the game.

This had the recipe for one of Arizona’s marquee wins this season, an Answerback-style performance.

“This team is hungry and they fight and that’s why this game stings,” Lovullo said. “We were strike away from a win. But moral victories don’t count in this game. We got to go out and find a way to get it done tomorrow.”

The D-backs are in a significant stretch for their season with three games in L.A., three at the San Diego Padres and four against the Atlanta Braves, all playoff teams as Arizona fights to stay in striking distance for a wild card spot entering the All-Star break and with the trade deadline less than a month away.

Arizona dropped to 3.0 games back of San Diego for the final spot with opportunities ahead to continue to make up ground with one game less room for error.

The loss lands on Sewald for the first time this season, as he was 11-for-11 in save opportunities with a sterling 0.54 ERA. He struck out Lux before getting Ohtani to swing out of his shoes at a changeup and whiffing at a high fastball for strike three.

“I don’t think there was anything missing, just a bad pitch to (Will) Smith and got ahead of Freeman and made a kind of bad 0-2 pitch and that’s pretty much it,” Sewald said. “Teo is a good hitter … I’m not usually too upset about ground balls.”

“I think I’ve earned the respect to try and pitch to people,” Sewald added on the Freeman decision.

Paul Sewald addresses tonight’s loss to the Dodgers. pic.twitter.com/ESAcTeQGJY

— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) July 3, 2024

Christian Walker: A pain in the Dodgers’ side

Walker’s home run was No. 15 in 40 games in his career at Dodger Stadium. They have all come since the start of 2018, a stretch in which no other visiting player has more, according to MLB researcher Sarah Langs.

Walker has 23 career homers against the Dodgers, tied with Luis Gonzalez for second most by a D-backs player. Paul Goldschmidt has 31 but in 243 more plate appearances.

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