The Dodgers keep stumbling, yet somehow they keep being presented with opportunities to save their fading season.
They had another chance to move in the right direction Wednesday, knowing before they even took the field against Arizona that the Cardinals had already lost and a victory would tie them with St. Louis for the National League’s second wild-card berth.
And still they could not get it done, falling 3-2 to the Diamondbacks at Chase Park.
With the Giants also winning, the Dodgers fell a season-high seven games back with 19 games remaining.
While missing the opportunity to tie the Cardinals – whom they will now meet in a key four-game series at Dodger Stadium beginning Thursday – others are now coming up fast from behind.
The Phillies and Brewers are two of baseball’s hottest teams. Both are now just two games behind the Dodgers in the wild-card chase, with the Pirates still 1½ games back.
The Dodgers appeared loose and relaxed after skipping pregame batting practice and taking phantom infield, that is pretending to throw around an invisible ball.
Things then started promisingly enough, when the Dodgers did this really strange thing and scored two runs in the first. It was the first time in 16 games they had scored in the first inning.
Shane Victorino got it started by slapping a one-out single, before Arizona starter Trevor Cahill hit Matt Kemp with a pitch. Adrian Gonzalez, so despondent after leaving the tying run in scoring position in the ninth Tuesday, doubled into the left-center gap to score both.
But the rest of the night, the Dodgers’ offense looked all too familiar. They managed only two more hits over the next eight innings.
The Diamondbacks got one run back against Aaron Harang in the second after Paul Goldschmidt led off with a base hit and stole second. Miguel Montero walked on a wild pitch, with Goldschmidt taking third. Justin Upton lifted a fly deep enough to right to sacrifice Goldschmidt home.
Arizona might have done more damage if Victorino had not made a running catch into the wall on a Gerardo Parra drive. Victorino then quickly threw to shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who fired to first to double up Montero, who had strayed to second thinking the drive would fall.
The Diamondbacks took the lead with a pair of runs in the sixth after Harang issued consecutive two-out walks to Goldschmidt and Montero. Upton singled to score one and end the night for Harang.
Left-hander Randy Choate took over and jammed Parra, but he fisted the ball in the hole between third and short to score Montero with the go-ahead run.
In his 5 2/3 innings, Harang (9-9) was charged with three runs on four hits and four walks. He struck out three.
Cahill (11-11) went seven innings for the Diamondbacks, allowing two runs on four hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven.
That great stretch charge the Dodgers keep hoping for was left to their imaginations. They completed their five-game trip 1-4.