The fourth-inning pitch clanked off Jake Lamb’s bat at 92 mph straight for Dustin May’s head and the gangly Dodgers right-hander could not get out of the way in time.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts frantically leaped over the dugout rail the instant the line drive ricocheted off May’s head and flew into left field. He had to wait to run out to the pitcher until the play concluded, after two Arizona Diamondbacks scored to tie the score.
May twisted in pain on his back, his blue cap on the ground, leaving his long red curls uncovered. He laid there for a couple of minutes as Roberts and trainer Yosuke Nakajima checked on him. Chase Field was silent. Lamb observed from first base, worry etched on his face, on one knee.
The pitcher stood up to cheers and, after a short conversation, he walked off the mound, his second career relief appearance concluding with a scare long before the Dodgers came from behind for a 4-3 win in 11 innings on Joc Pederson’s tie-busting home run.
May evaded catastrophe. He passed a concussion test and said he wasn’t dealing with any lingering symptoms after the game.
“When it hit me at first, it really just frightened me,” May said. “And then when I was on the ground, it was like, ‘Well, dang, I wish that wouldn’t have happened.’”
May exited with runners on first and second with two outs. Adam Kolaek replaced him and surrendered a run-scoring single to give Arizona a 3-2 lead. The score stayed that way until the Diamondbacks summoned left-hander Andrew Chafin to face the left-handed-hitting Cody Bellinger with one out in the ninth inning.
The matchup went the Dodgers’ way. Bellinger clobbered a solo home run in the ninth inning to tie the score. It was home run No. 43 on the season for Bellinger, tying Mike Trout and Pete Alonso for the major league lead, and his 16th off a left-hander. He has belted the most home runs for a left-handed batter against left-handed pitching since Curtis Granderson compiled 16 in 2011.
Two innings later, after the Diamondbacks stranded two runners in the 10th inning, Pederson whacked the eighth pitch he saw from right-hander Taylor Clarke over the right-field wall to pull the Dodgers ahead. The homer, Pederson’s 28th, traveled 454 feet.
“It was as big of a hit for us as we’ve had all year,” Roberts said.
Pedro Baez logged a perfect 11th inning to record his first career save in his 329th appearance. With the win, the Dodgers snapped Arizona’s six-game winning streak and avoided their first four-game sweep since the St. Louis Cardinals swept them in April. They leave Arizona after a 3-4 trip with an 18-game lead in the National League West, 4 1/2 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves for home-field advantage in the playoffs. The magic number to clinch their seventh straight division title is seven.
“To come in here and lose four, there’s a lot, I hate saying pressure, but it was kind of a must-win situation as far as getting back on the winning track,” Roberts said.
Ross Stripling took the mound for an abbreviated start after being reinstated from the injured list Sunday knowing he’ll probably need a strong September to claim a spot on the postseason pitching staff — and even that might not be enough. He began making his case with a strong outing Sunday. The right-hander faced the minimum over three innings with help from two double plays. He gave up two hits and struck out two in 31 pitches.
David Freese, also activated Sunday, slugged the first homer in his first plate appearance since July 23 off left-hander Alex Young. It was the veteran’s 10th home run, giving the Dodgers 10 players with double-digit homers this season. Russell Martin, the team’s other 36-year-old veteran, smacked another solo shot to lead off the third.
The opposite-field blast gave the Dodgers 236 home runs on the season, breaking their previous franchise record of 235 set last year. Bellinger and Pederson increased the total to 238. There are 23 regular-season games remaining to pad the number.
May relieved Stripling in the fourth inning with a two-run cushion seeking to improve on his first shot out of the bullpen. Adrenaline and oppressive Georgia heat helped torpedo his first opportunity against the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 18. The 21-year-old prospect surrendered a grand slam before settling down in his two innings.
May’s outing Sunday began with an eight-pitch strikeout of Jarrod Dyson. He was the only batter May retired. Tim Locastro, a thorn in the Dodgers’ side all weekend, reached on an infield single. Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar followed with singles to left field to load the bases for Lamb.
May started the at-bat with a 91-mph cutter high for a ball. The next pitch, a 96-mph sinker, whistled in for a called strike. His third, and final, offering was a quality pitch, another 96-mph sinker low and away, out of the strike zone. But Lamb reached and barreled it. May’s glove grazed it before it plunked hit, but he dropped to the ground in a flash, the game abruptly taking a backseat to his well-being.
“I’m really just kind of upset that I didn’t catch it,” May said, “because it hit my glove.”