video thumbnail

Montero and Puig have words at home plate

PHOENIX -- The D-backs are still in first place, but they won't be for long unless they start playing better.

And soon.

For the second night in a row, the Dodgers dominated the D-backs, beating the home team by an identical 6-1 mark on Tuesday.

"Brutal," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said in summing up the offensive output.

The D-backs came into the series with the Dodgers having won five straight and fresh off a three-game sweep of the Rockies, but they have been mauled by the Dodgers, who have now won 14 of their last 17 games.

Arizona held a 9 1/2-game lead before the Dodgers got hot, but that lead is down to just 2 1/2 with one game left in this series.

"We scored one run last night and one run tonight," Gibson said. "If you're going to score one run, you have to play a lot better baseball, but we kicked it around. I think we got a little frustrated, too. Things are going well for the Dodgers right now, and we didn't play very well, but we'll be back tomorrow."

The buzz before the game was about Ian Kennedy facing the Dodgers for the first time since he received a 10-game suspension for hitting Yasiel Puig and Zack Greinke with pitches triggering a melee at Dodger Stadium on June 11.

The focus after the game for the D-backs, though, was how to get their ace back on track.

The right-hander allowed six runs in 5 2/3 innings as his ERA climbed to 5.31 and his record dropped to 3-5.

Command still seems to be the biggest issue for Kennedy, who was able to get ahead of hitters, but struggled to finish them off.

"I left a couple of changeups up, fastballs over the plate too much," Kennedy said. "It was poor execution. I think I was getting ahead of guys and then not making good pitches later in the count."

That lack of control has led to Kennedy leading the National League in hit batters with 10. His latest coming in the first inning when he plunked Hanley Ramirez with a changeup.

"We knew Kennedy wasn't trying to hit Hanley," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It was a changeup just trying to get in."

That doesn't mean there wasn't some tense moments between the two rivals.

When Puig was thrown out easily at the plate in the fifth inning, he collided a bit with catcher Miguel Montero and then stared down Montero as he walked back to the dugout. Replays showed Montero giving the rookie a little finger-wagging, a la Dikembe Mutombo.

"He came in hard, he's playing the game hard," Montero said. "Just trying to score. I just tried to block the plate as well. You don't need to look at me if you get out. It's all right. He was out, that's all I care."

Puig's all-out style of play can be an irritant to opposing teams, and Kennedy referred to it when discussing the play at the plate.

"He plays with a lot of arrogance," Kennedy said.

With two out, no one on and two strikes on Montero in the ninth, reliever Ronald Belisario hit Montero with a pitch in his lower leg.

Belisario was the one who said after the last fight between the two teams that he didn't consider things over, and apparently the right-hander still doesn't.

"It's not over, but that wasn't on purpose," Belisario said. "I don't like the way they keep talking, but it wasn't on purpose."

The Dodgers may have wanted to hit Kennedy as retaliation from their previous skirmish, but an opportunity did not present itself. Kennedy came to the plate just once, and when he did there was a runner on first in a 1-0 game.

Ricky Nolasco was impressive in his Dodgers debut, allowing just one run on four hits over seven innings.

"We go through streaks like this," Gibson said. "Nolasco pitched a good game for sure. He had good stuff, he can dump that breaking ball over whenever he wants. He pitched a good game."

MLB.com Comments