If the Dodgers fail to reach the playoffs, they'll look back on days like Sunday.
Failing to properly field the ball or run the bases in a 6-3 defeat to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers blew an opportunity to further reduce their deficit to the first-place San Francisco Giants, who are doing everything possible to invite them back into postseason picture.
"It was a little bit of a tough one," said Manager Don Mattingly.
The Dodgers remained 6 1/2 games behind the Giants, who suffered another late-game meltdown and lost for the sixth time in seven games, this time 8-7 to the Colorado Rockies.
As the Giants were about to be let down by their bullpen again — relievers Juan Gutierrez and Javier Lopez combined to give up four eighth-inning runs — Mattingly's team continued to make the kind of mistakes that buried them in the standings in the first place.
The Diamondbacks went ahead, 2-1, in the fifth inning, when catcher Drew Butera made no attempt to throw out David Peralta as he stole third base. Butera then failed to block a wild pitch by Josh Beckett, allowing Peralta to score.
The Diamondbacks blew the game open in the seventh inning, when, according to Beckett, "Everything that could go wrong did go wrong."
With the Dodgers still trailing by only a run, Beckett forced Miguel Montero to hit an innocent-looking grounder at second baseman Dee Gordon.
One problem: No one was covering first base.
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez said he didn't see the ball come off Montero's bat.
"And when I saw it, I thought it was going to be between us, so I went to it," Gonzalez said. "I didn't want it to be one of those that sneaks by us because I didn't go after it. You have to make a decision one way or the other. My instincts went toward second base."
Beckett was late to break to first base on the play.
Aaron Hill followed with a single to left field, which was lackadaisically fielded by Matt Kemp. Montero beat Kemp's throw to third base and Hill advanced to second.
With the infield in, Beckett made Martin Prado hit a grounder to Gordon. But the ball bounced under Gordon's glove and two runs scored. The Dodgers now trailed, 4-1.
Gordon's error snapped the Dodgers' season-long streak of seven consecutive errorless games.
The attempted comeback was halted by another mistake, this one on the basepaths.
Justin Turner drove in Jamie Romak with a double to left field, but trailing runner Butera was thrown out on the play after overrunning third base. Butera initially ignored coach Lorenzo Bundy's stop sign and was tagged out as he scampered back to the base.
"I have to watch the scoreboard a little bit better, know that we have nobody out," Butera said.
Gonzalez downplayed the defeat, pointing out the Dodgers won the series against the Diamondbacks.
"We can't realistically think we're going to win every game," he said. "Today is one of those games you tip your hat to the other team."
The Dodgers have won two of their last three series and, in Gonzalez's view, are heading in the right direction.