PHOENIX — Adrian Gonzalez was again upset in the wake of the Dodgers’ latest defeat, a 3-2 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night at Chase Field.
His anger wasn’t directed at himself, as it was the previous night, but at home plate umpire Dale Scott.
With one out and the bases empty in the ninth inning, Gonzalez took a full-count fastball from Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez for a called third strike. Television replays indicated the pitch was outside, as did the PITCH/fx pitch-tracking system.
“I’m still frustrated from the strike three call,” Gonzalez said. “It should have been ball four. Game on the line, ninth inning, 3-2 pitch, he made a great pitch, but it’s a ball. It shouldn’t happen. Not in the time of the game like that.”
Gonzalez, who drove in the Dodgers’ only runs on a first-inning double, retreated to the dugout. Hanley Ramirez grounded out to first base and the Dodgers lost for the 14th time in 21 games.
The Dodgers fell a season-high seven games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West. But they somehow remained only a game back of the St. Louis Cardinals for the second of two wild-card spots.
With the Cardinals visiting the Dodger Stadium for a four-game series that starts Thursday, the Dodgers are in control of their own destiny.
“I think we have to feel fortunate,” Manager Don Mattingly said.
Meanwhile, Gonzalez was wondering: What if?
Had he drawn a walk, fleet-footed Dee Gordon probably would have run for him. Gordon could have stolen a base. Ramirez and Andre Ethier each might have had a chance to drive him in.
“Day in, day out, we take pitches that are close and it’s always a strike,” Gonzalez said. “Situations when you’re trying to get something going and they take it away from you, just like this.”
Gonzalez also took a called third strike on a borderline pitch to end the game the previous night. That time, he kept quiet.
But Gonzalez said the Dodgers aren’t the only team that has felt victimized by called third strikes like this. According to him, players on other teams have made similar complaints.
“Ninth inning, it’s just pulling the trigger on stuff,” Gonzalez said. “This is all year long, every team.”
Gonzalez restrained himself from turning around and screaming at Scott when he was called out.
“You make a big deal about it out there, you get a call from the league, you get suspended,” he said. “It was already strike three. What am I going to do? You can’t throw a flag and ask for an instant replay.”
He added, “Hanley’s coming up and I don’t want to take his concentration away either.”
Scott said he hadn’t seen a replay of the pitch, but was certain he made the right call.
“That was strike three,” Scott said. “It was a good pitch.”
Scott also denied that he called games any differently in the ninth inning.
“There’s no memo out saying call strikes in the ninth inning,” he said.
The Dodgers were held to four hits for the second consecutive night, none of them coming after the fourth inning.
Two hits came in their two-run first inning off Diamondbacks starter Trevor Cahill. Shane Victorino singled and Matt Kemp was hit by a pitch. Gonzalez, who traded places in the order with Kemp and moved into the cleanup spot, drove them both in with a double to right-center.
The Diamondbacks reduced their deficit to 2-1 in the second inning, when Justin Upton’s sacrifice fly drove in Paul Goldschmidt.
Aaron Harang issued two-out walks in the sixth inning to Goldschmidt and Miguel Montero, then Upton’s single tied it at 2-2. Left-hander Randy Choate entered the game to face the left-handed-hitting Gerardo Parra and gave up the go-ahead single.