Showing little kindness to their fans and their fathers Sunday, the Dodgers dropped the rubber game of their series in Pittsburgh, 6-3.
Zack Greinke allowed 11 of 25 batters he faced over five innings to reach base, and it was the 11th who was the killer. Pedro Alvarez broke a 2-2 tie with two out in the fifth inning by hitting a full-count, no-doubt three-run homer to center off Greinke, whose 2013 ERA rose to 4.22.
Los Angeles had a chance to get right back in the game in the top of the sixth, when with two out, Adrian Gonzalez doubled, Yasiel Puig (3 for 4, plus his first career stolen base) singled him to third and Andre Ethier (2 for 4) singled home a run, cutting the deficit to 5-3. Tim Federowicz, who in the fourth inning grounded into an inning-ending double play with two runners on, then walked to load the bases.
Don Mattingly let Luis Cruz, with a sub-.200 on-base percentage in 2013, come to the plate. As I watched Cruz strike out, I figured Mattingly was conserving players because Juan Uribe was a late scratch with back tightness. (Note: This was what counts for an optimistic assessment of the Dodgers’ travails.) Instead, we came back in the bottom of the inning to find that Mattingly had made a double switch, putting third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. into the game in the pitcher’s spot and putting Matt Guerrier in Cruz’s spot.
Double-switching so that you can get an extra inning out of Guerrier is a waste, especially when, if you don’t get the lead back, you’re only going to be playing an eight-inning game. (Right now, it’s hard to think of any Dodger reliever for whom you’d make an effort to double the innings.) Meanwhile, Hairston is no guarantee to get a hit if he bats in place of Cruz, but surely it would have been better to see him or another pinch-hitter up in that situation.
And as a topper, Guerrier allowed a solo homer to Alex Presley in the bottom of the sixth to put the Dodgers behind by three again. Los Angeles had two walks but no hits over the final three innings, going quietly to another defeat that put them 10 games below .500 again.
After an off day Monday, the Dodgers make that long-awaited regular season appearance in Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Neither team should be anything less than ornery. The Yankees, though doing better than the Dodgers in 2013, nearly blew a 6-0 lead in the ninth inning against the Angels today before avoiding their sixth loss in a row.