The palpable frustration is creeping back for the Dodgers as Puigmania slowly loses its freshness.
The images were clear Sunday: Adrian Gonzalez staring blankly at the baseball in his left hand after making an error that led to four runs in the third inning, Nick Punto angrily walking back to the dugout after lining out in the second, Yasiel Puig drooping his shoulders and dropping his head after grounding out to end the fourth.
On a day when the Dodgers lineup needed to provide an early cushion for right-handed rookie Matt Magill (0-2), they stranded four runners in scoring position over the first three innings and seven overall in an 8-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves. They scored one run, on a Skip Schumaker infield single with the bases loaded and no outs in the first inning, and failed to score again.
That inadequacy at the plate coupled with a poor performance by Magill led to the Dodgers’ second consecutive loss and a split of a four-game series with the Braves.
Two days after getting their first walk-off victory of the season, the Dodgers experienced their second Magill walk-a-thon in eight days. He continually mislocated fastballs and gave up seven runs and six walks over 3-2/3 innings. He gave up only five hits and three earned runs, but fell behind batter after batter and never looked confident in his sixth start. This came after he served up four home runs and walked nine batters against the Colorado Rockies on June 2.
Magill worked through first-inning walks to Jason Heyward and Justin Upton, and looked likely to receive an early buffer when the Dodgers loaded the bases against left-hander Mike Minor (8-2). Puig lined the first pitch for a single to center field, Punto reached on a bunt single and Gonzalez walked.
But Scott Van Slyke and Luis Cruz couldn’t cash in on nine- and seven-pitch at-bats, respectively. Schumaker hit a soft grounder toward third base that drove in Puig, but a popout by Tim Federowicz ended a promising inning.
The Dodgers next wasted a single by Mark Ellis in the second inning. After Ellis moved to second base on a wild pitch on which Magill struck out on a bunt attempt, Puig flied out to right field. He threw his hands down in disgust on his way to the dugout.
Punto followed by lining out to first baseman Freddie Freeman and looked to be contemplating taking his anger out on his bat.
After walking Heyward with one out in the third inning, Magill induced Justin Upton into nubbing a grounder down the first base line. But Gonzalez came up empty after trying to pick up the ball with his glove, drawing an error and allowing Upton to reach first.
Freeman then singled to right field to load the bases, Evan Gattis hit a sacrifice fly and Dan Uggla followed with a three-run home run into the back of the Dodgers bullpen in left field.
Federowicz grounded out sharply to third base to strand Gonzalez and Schumaker in the third inning before a three-run double by Freeman in the fourth chased Magill.
Uggla hit a home run to lead off the fifth inning, his third home run in two games, and the Dodgers stranded runners at second and third in the bottom half of the inning.
Puig finished three for five to raise his average to .464. Schumaker extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 games.
The Dodgers have scored only one run in each of their last two games and four runs in their last three games. They cap a 10-game homestand with three games against the National League West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks starting Monday.