December 9, 2022

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Urías strong, but Dodgers falter around him

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PHOENIX — Over the final 17 innings of this week’s three-game series against the D-backs, the Dodgers scored only one run. That low-scoring stretch culminated Wednesday afternoon, when the Dodgers lost 3-1 in the series finale at Chase Field.

Walker Buehler powered Los Angeles to victory with a complete-game shutout in Monday’s opener, but the D-backs bounced back to win the next two games. Wednesday’s loss snapped the Dodgers’ streak of nine consecutive series victories against the D-backs, who hadn’t won a set vs. Los Angeles since taking three of four from Aug. 29-Sept. 1, 2019.

On Wednesday, the Dodgers committed two errors. The more costly of the pair came when third baseman Max Muncy fielded a Sergio Alcántara sacrifice bunt in the eighth and sailed the throw past first base, allowing the go-ahead run to score.

Los Angeles finished its six-game National League West road swing at 3-3 after previously taking two of three in San Diego. Here are three takeaways from the trip as the Dodgers head home to Los Angeles.

1. Urías is dealing again
Julio Urías
was the only pitcher to make two starts during this road swing, and both outings were impressive. Last Friday, he allowed one run and two hits over five innings in a win over the Padres. On Wednesday, he gave up one run and one hit in six innings vs. the D-backs.

The lone hit that Urías allowed was a one-out solo homer to Nick Ahmed in the fifth. Outside of that, the Dodgers left-hander faced little trouble while striking out four and walking two.

“I felt like they only made real good contact on two different pitches,” Urías said through an interpreter. “But everything felt good, everything felt fine. All my pitches were working.”

After winning 20 games and posting a 2.96 ERA in 32 starts in 2021, Urías got off to a slow start in ‘22 by allowing six runs (three earned) in two innings in his season debut at Colorado on April 10. But he’s bounced back by allowing only two runs in 16 innings over his past three starts.

“I thought he competed, made pitches,” Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said. “Obviously, I know he’d like to have that 2-1 fastball in to Ahmed back, but he put the ball on the ground softly, there was some swing-and-miss. He gave us what we needed.”

2. Starting pitching has been the Dodgers’ backbone
While the Dodgers got mixed results in some key areas during this trip — such as timely hitting and fielding — one thing stayed constant: excellent starting pitching.

Over the six games, no Los Angeles starter allowed more than two earned runs. Urías, Buehler and Clayton Kershaw are one of the best rotation trios in the Majors, and they’ve pitched like it, combining to allow three runs in 25 innings on the trip.

The Dodgers lead MLB with a 2.16 rotation ERA. But their impressive starts weren’t enough to overcome the fielding miscues (three errors) and lack of offense (eight total runs) during the three games in Phoenix.

“I thought we pitched well this series,” Roberts said. “But outside of that, we didn’t have a good series.”

3. Several key hitters still waiting to break out
Freddie Freeman (.876 OPS) is raking, and Trea Turner (16 RBIs) has been producing runs from the middle of the order. Turner’s eighth-inning RBI single accounted for Los Angeles’ lone tally on Wednesday.

But other key Dodgers hitters haven’t been faring quite as well. Mookie Betts (.209 average), Justin Turner (.206) and Max Muncy (.155) are all still looking to get going after the first three weeks of the season.

“It’s surprising, I think, if you look at each individual, some of the guys that are not swinging the bat well and haven’t all year,” Roberts said. “The silver lining is guys are getting on base, we’re creating traffic.”

Once these sluggers break through, the Dodgers — who are 12-6 despite their offensive struggles — may really get rolling. And Roberts is confident that will happen soon.

“It wasn’t at-bat quality, it was essentially some bad luck and some good defense on their part,” Roberts said. “I think that guys are going to come out of it.”

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