Maybe Dave Roberts is an oracle.
On Wednesday afternoon, after seven losses in eight games, Roberts announced that his Dodgers had reached a crossroads. “Tonight,” he said, “is the night in turns.” Later that evening, he lost pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu to a significant groin strain. A day later, his offense slumbered through seven innings at Chase Field.
And yet the Dodgers emerged victorious in both games, the latter a 5-2 win over Arizona. An eighth-inning meltdown by Diamondbacks relievers Fernando Salas and Jorge De La Rosa led to a four-run flurry. The Dodgers (14-17) acted a bystanders for much of the rally. De La Rosa followed a balk with two wild pitches.
At this point, the Dodgers care little about style points. They have been devastated by injuries and disappointed by regression from their stars. They require victories in any form. They managed to split a four-game series with Arizona and book a happy flight to Monterrey, Mexico, where they will play the San Diego Padres this weekend.
The prologue to these two victories was only pain. The Dodgers lost a series last week to the tanking Miami Marlins and dropped three of four to San Francisco over the weekend. Arizona collected the first two games of this series. To salvage a split felt like something more, the Dodgers thought.
“We’ve played really good ball these last two days, and had two really big wins,” starting pitcher Alex Wood said. “As big a win as you can have in April and to the beginning of May.”
Wood struck out eight but lasted only five innings. He dealt with cramps in his hamstring. His abbreviated outing added more stress to the bullpen. After eight scoreless innings in his 2018 debut, Wood has not pitched beyond the sixth inning in his last six starts. The duo of Yimi Garcia and Edward Paredes gave up a run in the sixth.
The Dodgers were mostly ineffective against Diamondbacks starter Patrick Corbin. In a game here on April 4, Corbin struck out 12 Dodgers. It was not an isolated event. Corbin entered Thursday with at least seven strikeouts in each of his six starts, and 55 spread across 40 innings of work.
“Corbin flu, eh?” Hernandez said. “I better get ready to play first base.”
Bellinger would play. So would Hernandez, although he’d start at second base. Both had already made outs when Austin Barnes came up in the top of the second.
Barnes had yet to produce a home run in 2018. He had yet to produce many hits at all, with only eight across appearances in 27 games. He was still ready for an inside fastball from Corbin. Barnes drove the pitch beyond the fence in left field for a solo shot.
Wood failed to protect the lead in the bottom of the second. With a runner at first base and two outs, he faced No. 8 hitter Jeff Mathis, a catcher with a .566 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in his 14-year career. Wood could not find the strike zone. He walked Mathis and brought Corbin to the plate.
Corbin fouled back a couple fastballs as the count drew even at 2-2. Wood tried a breaking ball. Corbin punched the curveball up the middle for a game-tying single.
Wood required 70 pitches to record nine outs. The Diamondbacks kept spoiling pitches and Wood kept getting into deep counts. He generated a larger scare before the fifth inning. Wood warmed up with a trainer and Roberts standing nearby, but remained in the game, as the cramps dissipated.
Wood responded with his best inning of the game. He struck out Corbin and outfielder Chris Owings. A soft grounder by shortstop Nick Ahmed ended the frame.
After Wood departed, Roberts handed the baseball to Garcia. Garcia was pitching in the majors for the first time since April 22, 2016. He lost nearly two full seasons to rehabilitation from a damaged ulnar collateral ligament. His return to the majors was not triumphant.
The inning started with an error by third baseman Kyle Farmer. Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt hit a grounder toward third. The ball skipped past Farmer for a leadoff error. After a single by outfielder A.J. Pollock, second baseman Ketel Marte rolled another grounder to the left side of the infield. Farmer stepped toward the baseball but retreated back to the bag, and shortstop Chris Taylor could not stop the RBI single.
“Luckily,” Farmer said, “we were able to battle back.”
The offense staged a comeback in the eighth. Taylor led off with a walk. Chase Utley came off the bench with a single. Matt Kemp loaded the bases with another single. Bellinger tied the score with a sacrifice fly on a line drive to center.
From there, De La Rosa took control. His balk shifted two runners into scoring position. He intentionally walked Barnes. With Farmer at the plate, De La Rosa lost a curveball in the dirt, and then a cutter. Utley scored on the first wild pitch. Kemp scored on the second. Farmer smacked an RBI single for good measure.
“There’s things that happened in the game where you joke about ‘The tide’s turning’ or ‘The worm’s turning,’ ” Roberts said. “That’s the way baseball is. Our guys are starting to see a little bit of it.”
Follow Andy McCullough on Twitter @McCulloughTimes