A spoiler alert in L.A.
The Arizona Diamondbacks lost Friday night.
So much for the Dodgers’ highlights.
Unfortunately for the Dodgers, they were playing the San Francisco Giants. And not playing very well at all.
Having long since been eliminated from contention, the only solace for the Giants, 16 games below .500, is that, with six of their remaining nine games against the Dodgers, they can severely damage their archrivals’ chances of holding on to the NL West lead.
On Friday night at Dodger Stadium, they began doing that damage, blasting Greg Maddux for all seven runs in whipping the Dodgers, 7-1.
Barry Zito (10-16) got the victory.
“Hopefully, we don’t have another game like this the rest of the season,” Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said.
The sellout crowd came to cheer the hottest team in the NL West, a club that was coming off a 7-3 trip in which it opened a 3 1/2 -game lead on the Diamondbacks. By the middle of the game, those cheers had turned to boos.
Maddux (7-13) had entered the game with a 30-14 record and 2.78 earned-run average against San Francisco, but the bulk of that record was accrued when the 42-year-old was younger and sharper.
He wasn’t sharp Friday night, and that was obvious from the beginning.
With one out in the first inning, Maddux surrendered three straight hits and two runs. After Randy Winn singled to right and Pablo Sandoval doubled down the third base line, Bengie Molina singled up the middle.
It appeared the Dodgers had a shot at getting Sandoval, the relay arriving in catcher Danny Ardoin’s glove well ahead of the runner, who took a wide route and had to dive back to touch the plate. The Dodgers argued, to no avail.
In the grand scheme of things on this night, the run would mean little, not when the Giants added another run in the second on a run-scoring single by Dave Roberts and crushed the Dodgers with four more in the fifth.
Maddux didn’t get any help from Manny Ramirez in the fifth, his final inning. With two on and two out, Sandoval hit a towering fly ball to left that dropped behind Ramirez, two runs scoring. Molina finished off the scoring with a home run to left-center, his 15th of the season.
Maddux finished the inning, then departed, having given up nine hits.
“It’s all about location with Greg,” Torre said. "[Friday], he was not able to find it. Still, the fact that he still has the energy and the desire to be competitive at 42 is admirable.”
Maddox wasn’t about to pat himself on the back.
“I made pitches that weren’t very good,” he said. “They got me.”
Pablo Ozuna hit a homer in the eighth inning, and with uncertainty over the physical condition of Nomar Garciaparra and Rafael Furcal, Torre can certainly use an extra glove. An extra glove along with an effective bat is even better.
More good news. Even with the loss, the magic number for the Dodgers to clinch the division title drops to six with eight games to play.
But the Dodgers are going to have to play a lot better than they did Friday night. Or hope the Diamondbacks keep losing.
6 Combination of Dodgers wins and Arizona losses that will clinch the NL West. H: home games left. R: road games left
*--* NL WEST W L PCT GB H R DODGERS 80 74 519 -- 5 3 Arizona 76 77 497 3 1/2 3 6 *--*