If your bullpen is unreliable, you want your starting pitchers going as deep into the game as they can. Particularly if they're led by a pair of aces such as Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.
Only much more often than not, the late innings have proven a challenge for the Big Two. Saturday the challenge for Greinke was a tad too much.
Greinke had been characteristically brilliant for most of his first seven innings, but in the eighth Justin Upton hit a two-out solo homer to lead the Padres to a 2-1 victory over the Dodgers at Petco Park.
This was only the third time in his 13 starts that Greinke pitched into the eighth. Greinke tried to throw a full-count slider past Upton, but the Padres batter sent it out to center for his 13th home run of the season.
Greinke took the loss to fall to 5-2, giving up the two runs on eight hits and a walk. He struck out seven. He threw 100 pitches on the night.
The Padres had opened the scoring in the first after Will Venable doubled with one out. He took third on a groundout and scored on a Matt Kemp infield single. As a possible omen to how the night might get away from him, Greinke fielded the Kemp ball and threw it away for an error that allowed him to take second. It was only Greinke's second error in the last five years.
The Dodgers tied the score when Yasmani Grandal led off the third inning with a solo home run off Ian Kennedy. For the former Padres catcher, it was his seventh home run of the year.
Otherwise, the Dodgers could do nothing with Kennedy. The right-hander went seven innings for the Padres. He gave up the one run on four hits and a walk. He struck out four.
It stayed a 1-1 game until Upton, who started the day with a career .391 batting average against Greinke, connected on his home run.