Messy ninth inning costs Dodgers in finale
Bases-loaded walk cuts NL West lead to 2 1/2 games
PHOENIX -- Middle reliever Ramon Troncoso faced the media Wednesday night, looking about as uncomfortable as he did fielding the Gerardo Parra comebacker that he threw away and, with it, a chance for a Dodgers series sweep.
A 4-3 loss to the D-backs in the bottom of the ninth inning and another ridiculous comeback win in the bottom of the ninth by the Rockies trimmed the Dodgers' lead in the National League West to 2 1/2 games, the smallest margin since Aug. 25.
It took an unearned run on a bases-loaded walk for the D-backs to snap a six-game losing streak, winning a game in which they went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position while stranding 11.
Troncoso walked Mark Reynolds with one out and the bases loaded, believing he actually had struck out Reynolds in the eight-pitch at-bat on a 1-2 pitch that plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt ruled outside.
"I look up and see their outfield is pretty much playing in the infield and I know all I have to do is hit a fly ball," Reynolds said. "I just fouled off some tough pitches and was able to work a good AB. Some of them were close. He was throwing that sinker and trying to run it back over the outside corner. They were close, there's no doubt, but they were off and you've got to credit the umpire for seeing that."
It was the second walk-off loss at Chase Field suffered by Troncoso in the past three weeks. He got beat on a Parra bases-loaded hit in the 10th inning on Aug. 15, a game in which Hiroki Kuroda took a line drive off the head and closer Jonathan Broxton allowed a pair of home runs.
At least this time, the Dodgers' starting pitcher didn't wind up in a hospital emergency room. Jon Garland, in his second consecutive start against the team that traded him away, checked in with a quality start and left under his own power, allowing three runs in six innings. That's a quality start by some criteria, although he also let two leads get away, the first on back-to-back home runs by former teammates Miguel Montero and Chris Young.
"I definitely wasn't as amped up and jittery," he said in comparison to his winning Dodgers debut against the D-backs last week."One big difference today is I fell behind a lot and had to fight back in counts."
The Dodgers had some good things happen in this game. Rafael Furcal led off the game with a triple against Dan Haren and Manny Ramirez brought him home with a vicious infield single. Ramirez and James Loney, who hit back-to-back home runs Monday night, repeated the trick Wednesday night.
But there also was big-time disappointment, as Ramirez and Loney struck out against Juan Gutierrez with runners on first and second in the eighth inning and a chance to break the tie. All of the production came from the top of the order, as spots six through nine went 1-for-15.
"We just made an error and it's tough to overcome," manager Joe Torre said. "The kid [Troncoso] pitched well. He's an athlete who fields his position well. It's one of those things. All you really want to do is hold Dan Haren to a tie and you're pleased. You're at an advantage now just to have him out of the game. Unfortunately, we couldn't cash in.
"I'm very positive about this series. Tonight was a disappointment. But a tie game, Haren out and your four and five hitters coming to bat? You can't ask for more than that."
The play that cost the game was Parra's dribbler back to the box, which Troncoso seemed to approach apprehensively and released toward first tentatively.
"I let my shoulder down a little," he said, and the ball sailed toward the foul side of first base. Loney came off the bag with a lunge and the ball grazed his mitt, but by the time it was retrieved in foul ground, Parra was on second.
"I was surprised I got a glove on it, but anytime I get a glove on it, I think I should have caught it," said Loney.
When Ryan Roberts bunted pinch-runner Trent Oeltjen to third, Torre explained that he had no choice but to intentionally walk the next two batters -- Stephen Drew and Justin Upton -- and hope Troncoso could get a strikeout or ground ball out of Reynolds.
"You do that 95 percent of the time, unless you've got a hitter -- I don't like to call anybody a guy who can't hit," he said. "But the middle of the lineup, you don't have a lot of choices. Reynolds swings and misses a lot and it sets up the force at home."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.