Well, it would have been a heck of a way to clinch a division.
A tragicomic game that seemed someone’s idea of a practical joke on both teams ended with the Arizona Diamondbacks staving off the Dodgers’ first match point in the National League West, hanging on for a 9-4 victory.
The Dodgers’ magic number for wrapping up the NL West remains two, heading into Thursday’s 12:40 p.m. series finale.
The game began with some horrendous pitching by Stephen Fife, who was making the start to give Clayton Kershaw a slight bit of rest ahead of October. Fife faced 18 batters and 11 reached base, on six hits, three walks and two hit-by-pitches, not to mention two wild pitches. He was lucky to only be charged with four runs, the last when reliever Carlos Marmol issued a bases-loaded walk to his first batter, with one out in the bottom of the third.
But somehow, four runs is all Arizona scored in the first six innings, the Diamondbacks stranding 12 runners on base in the process. Almost as bizarre was the Dodgers’ inability to take the lead, given what transpired in innings four through seven.
Yasiel Puig, having one of those games that makes him famous (a double in the first, followed by a pickoff, for example), hit one into orbit to lead off the top of the fourth and put the first run next to Los Angeles on the scoreboard. Consecutive singles by Carl Crawford, Michael Young and Adrian Gonzalez cut the Diamondbacks’ lead to 4-2, but with none out and two on, the next three Dodgers made outs.
The sixth inning then brought this round-the-horn extravaganza: The Dodgers got a bad call on their third baseman at home and ejection of their first baseman at second base on the same play.
With Young on first and one out, Gonzalez doubled deep in the left-field gap. Young was waved home and appeared to score ahead of the tag by Miguel Montero, but was called out at the plate – by first base umpire Jim Joyce, no less. In disbelief, Gonzalez (apparently) did something at second base to bring about his ejection. Despite yet another hit in the inning, by Matt Kemp, the Dodgers came up empty.
Los Angeles did only slightly better in the seventh. Nick Punto singled and Tim Federowicz doubled him home (no controversy this time), making the score 4-3. But frustratingly, Skip Schumaker was asked to bunt Federowicz to third base, and even though he succeeded with two strikes, it gave the Dodgers their first out. Puig hit an infield single (that could have been ruled an error), but Scott Van Slyke, coming up as a right-handed power bat against a left-handed pitcher in place of Carl Crawford, hit into a double play.
This became all but moot in the bottom of the eighth, when Arizona rapped Ronald Belisario for five insurance runs, three of them after the bases were cleared against Peter Moylan. Arizona ended up with 25 baserunners against the Dodgers. After going more than four seasons without allowing that many in a game, this was the fifth time it has happened in 2013.
Tim Federowicz’s two-out, ninth-inning homer would have been pretty nifty if Arizona still had only a one-run lead, but instead, as Vin Scully would say, it was but a murmur of protest before the game’s end.