Dodgers lose series finale to Diamondbacks
Standing in the corner of near-silent clubhouse, Ramon Troncoso looked down and spoke in a hushed voice.
“I messed up,” he said. “This was an opportunity.”
The reliever’s ninth-inning throwing error on a routine grounder put Gerardo Parra on second base instead of forcing him to retreat to his bench, starting the sequence of events that would result in Troncoso’s walking in the deciding run of the Dodgers’ 4-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday at Chase Field.
“But,” Troncoso said, “we have more games to play.”
Twenty-one more, to be exact.
Twenty-one games to protect their lead in the National League West over the second-place Colorado Rockies, who moved to within 2 1/2 games of them.
Twenty-one games to recapture the best record in the National League, something they had at least a share of since May 2 until they ceded it to the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday.
Twenty-one games to recapture their midseason magic.
This is the task that faces them at a time when Randy Wolf and Clayton Kershaw have to skip their next turns in the rotation, and Casey Blake and Jim Thome are still limping.
About the only consoling thought for the Dodgers is that they head to San Francisco for a three-game series that starts Friday with a 6 1/2 -game lead over the Giants.
In other words, even if they get overtaken by the Rockies in the division race, they can still reach the postseason via the wild-card route so long as they don’t blow a 6 1/2 -game lead in the last 21 games.
Manager Joe Torre didn’t hit the panic button in the wake of the Dodgers’ most recent defeat, but, then again, when has he?
“I’m very positive about this series,” he said.
Well, they did take two of three games from the Diamondbacks.
Manny Ramirez did hit two home runs, including one on Wednesday off All-Star Dan Haren.
Power-starved first baseman James Loney did the same.
And the Dodgers were in position to sweep.
“If you hold Dan Haren to a tie, you’re pleased,” Torre said.
That was largely a credit to Jon Garland, who was acquired from the Diamondbacks last week.
Limiting the team that is paying him the remainder of his salary to three runs and six hits in six innings, Garland departed the game with the score tied, 3-3.
This was one of Garland’s better games at Chase Field, where he was 4-5 with a 5.35 earned-run average as a member of the Diamondbacks.
“There are a lot more parks out there that I dislike more than this one,” Garland said.
Haren lasted 7 1/3 innings, giving up three runs and seven hits. He struck out nine.
Haren’s first obstacle on this night came in the form of Rafael Furcal, who had another one of those games when he looked like the Furcal of years past.
Furcal led off the game with a triple and scored on an infield hit by Ramirez to put the Dodgers ahead, 1-0.
The Diamondbacks went ahead, 2-1, in the second inning, when Miguel Montero and Chris Young hit back-to-back home runs.
Ramirez and Loney did to Haren in the fourth inning what Montero and Young did to Garland, launching balls over the right-field fence to give the Dodgers a 3-2 edge.
The Diamondbacks tied the score, 3-3, in the fifth inning when Ryan Roberts scored on a groundout by Justin Upton.
Troncoso’s throwing error helped break the tie.
Pinch-runner Trent Oeltjen advanced to third on a sacrifice by Roberts.
Torre opted to walk Stephen Drew and Upton to get to Mark Reynolds, who has 41 home runs.
Reynolds walked on a 3-and-2 pitch.
“When you’re going through the middle of the lineup, you don’t have a lot of choices,” Torre said of the decision to walk two batters to face Reynolds. “I think you have to set up the force play at home.”