Diamondbacks 6, Dodgers 5
PHOENIX, Aug. 31st – For the third straight game, the Arizona Diamondbacks trailed the Los Angeles Dodgers, 3-0. And for the third straight game, the Diamondbacks still won. This time, they won by the count of 6-5 in front of a raucous crowd. Christian Walker led the way with a two-run home run off Clayton Kershaw and a highlight-reel play in the field in the top of the ninth.
Three double plays in the first two innings – two by the Diamondbacks and one by the Dodgers – kept the game scoreless until the top of the third. Kershaw led the inning off with a line drive to left center. Center fielder Tim Locastro made a sliding play to cut it off in the gap. As Kershaw dug for second, Locastro hurled the ball to relay man Nick Ahmed, who threw a strike to Wilmer Flores at second. Flores slapped the tag on the sliding Kershaw in time to record the first out. After center fielder A.J. Pollock struck out, third baseman Justin Turner ripped a 2-0 pitch from Robbie Ray into the seats in left, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.
The Dodgers tacked on two more in the top of the fourth. Catcher Will Smith hit a leadoff home run into the seats in left, making the score 2-0. After shortstop Corey Seager fanned, left fielder Chris Taylor drew a walk. First baseman Jedd Gyorko then doubled to left center, scoring Taylor and making the score 3-0.
Diamondbacks Respond, Dodgers Retake Lead
Ahmed led off the bottom of the fourth with a walk, then third baseman Eduardo Escobar struck out on a checked swing that went too far. That brought up Walker, who, against Kershaw up to that point, had hit three home runs in nine at-bats. On the second pitch, Walker belted a high drive to center that hit the batter’s eye for a two-run home run. Three pitches later, Flores smoked a solo homer to the seats in left, tying the game at three.
Pollock led off the fifth with a double to left to keep the pressure on Ray. Turner then singled to left, advancing Pollock to third. A wild pitch to Hernandez, the next batter, allowed Turner to advance to second and take away the double play. Hernandez eventually hit a sacrifice fly to center that not only scored Pollock but advanced Turner to third. Ray then struck out the next two hitters – Smith and Seager – keeping the deficit at one.
The Lead Changes Hands, Leading to Another Crazy Finish
Catcher Carson Kelly led off the bottom of the fifth with a walk. After Ketel Marte – pinch-hitting for Ray – popped up to the shortstop, Locastro singled to left. This brought up Ahmed, who blasted a double to the left field corner, scoring both runners for a 5-4 Diamondbacks lead. Kershaw then fanned both Escobar and Walker, retiring the side.
Yimi Garcia and Pedro Baez pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh for the Dodgers. Yoan Lopez, T.J. McFarland, and Kevin Ginkel combined to pitch the sixth through eighth innings for the Diamondbacks without allowing any runs, also. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen took the mound in the bottom of the eighth to try to keep the deficit at 5-4. The first batter he faced was Escobar, who hit an opposite-field home run to left on a 2-2 count, making the score 6-4. This was Escobar’s third consecutive game with a home run, giving him 32 home runs and 109 RBI on the season. Three consecutive flies to the outfield by Walker, Flores, and Jake Lamb sent the game to the top of the ninth.
A Wild Ninth
Archie Bradley took the hill in the ninth to close for the Diamondbacks. He ran into trouble in a hurry, as Taylor and pinch hitter Cody Bellinger hit Bradley’s first two pitches to center for a single and the right field corner for a double, respectively. Right fielder Joc Pederson then walked, loading the bases for left fielder Matt Beaty. Diamondbacks pitching coach Mike Butcher visited the mound to settle Bradley down before he faced Beaty, who tattooed the first pitch on the ground to the right side.
Walker dove to his right and gloved the ball. He got to a knee and fired to Ahmed at second. Ahmed then gunned it to Bradley, covering first, for a spectacular 3-6-1 double play. Taylor scored, cutting the lead to 6-5, but it seemed to deflate the Dodgers as the crowd of 50,180 – a Chase Field record – went bananas.
Pinch hitter Russell Martin stepped in as the Dodgers’ last hope. On a 3-2 count, he hit a routine grounder to short, where Ahmed fielded the ball cleanly and threw to first for the game-ending out. The win gave the Diamondbacks their sixth in a row and moved them three and a half games behind the Chicago Cubs for the second wild card spot.
Ray (12-7) earned the win, while Kershaw (13-4) took the loss, and Bradley earned his 10th save. The NL West foes square off Sunday afternoon for the final time of the season.
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