Matt Kamlet, CBSLA.com
Milwaukee, MINN (CBSLA.com) — As the Dodgers looked straight in the face of opportunity when it knocked on their door, they didn’t recognize it — they rejected it, even mocked it a little, and sent it on it’s way to the other guys’ dugout.
The Dodgers batted 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position and Zack Greinke only lasted four innings in a 5-2 loss to the Brewers on Tuesday for the club’s fourth loss in their last five games.
Greinke (2-1) struggled in the first inning, giving up a walk, followed by back-to-back base hits that led to Ryan Braun’s score to make it 1-0 Brewers.
He prevented further damage by getting Carlos Gomez to strike out swinging, ending the inning and the Brewer threat.
The Dodgers had a big chance in the second inning, but the same kind of play that has now resulted in manager Don Mattingly’s job being put in question proved to follow the club to Milwaukee.
Matt Kemp singled and Andre Ethier walked to lead off the inning, but there is a reason the Dodgers are fifth in the National League in on base percentage, yet second to last in runs scored.
After the runners took first and second with no outs, A.J. Ellis flew out to left, Skip Schumaker hit a soft blooper that was caught by Jean Segura in shallow left field, and Dee Gordon grounded out to second.
Then the Dodgers, once again, put two runners on with outs.
And the result was twice as frustrating for the Dodgers.
Greinke hit a slow-roller to third for a leadoff infield single in the third, and was moved to second on Carl Crawford’s single to right. Both runners advanced on Nick Punto’s sacrifice bunt. Adrian Gonzalez walked to load the bases.
Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier both struck out swinging, and another golden opportunity went out the window.
Two more runners reached in the top of the fourth. This time, Greinke provided for himself.
Greinke singled to left fielder Ryan Braun. Skip Schumaker, heading to third base, took advantage of Braun’s lack of throwing strength, and rounded third. Braun fired home but he was nowhere close to being on time, and the game was tied 1-1.
The bases were again loaded after Carl Crawford walked with one out.
Nick Punto hit a grounder up the middle that reached the outfield, and the Dodgers took a 2-1 lead.
Gonzalez had another shot at the plate, with the bases loaded and one out, but he swung at a pitch that was way outside the strike zone, and there were two outs.
Kemp then looked to atone for his whiff in the previous inning, but he grounded out to end the inning.
By the end of the fourth inning, the Dodgers were already 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position, leaving eight runners on base.
In the spirit of keeping up that trend, Ethier singled to lead off the fifth, and advanced into scoring position on a wild pitch.
Ethier advanced to third when Segura couldn’t get his grip on a grounder by Schumaker. So, yet again, the Dodgers stared at the opportunity of extending their lead, with runners on the corners and one out.
The Dodgers ran a failed squeeze play with Dee Gordon at the plate, and Ethier was nailed at home.
If you’re keeping a tally, that’s 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position by the end of the fifth inning, leaving an average of two men on base per inning.
Segura made up for infield gaffe by leading off the sixth inning with a triple, his fifth of the season, which ties for the leageu’s lead. Ryan Braun then singled to center and the game was tied once again.
Aramis Ramirez then reached when Matt Kemp misread a ball in centerfield. Kemp took a number of steps back, before realizing the ball was well in front of him, and he was unable to chase it down.
Jonathan Lucroy then singled to left, and the Brewers showed the Dodgers how its done when the opportunity to score presents itself.
On the very next pitch, Carlos Gomez his a 2-run ground-rule double to left, and the Brewers took a 4-2 lead.
The Dodgers, trailing 5-2, would have a final shot in the ninth inning, with runners on first and second and the tying run at the plate. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier had struck out earlier in the inning.
Scott Van Slyke entered the game to pinch hit for Schumaker, and struck out swinging. The Dodgers ended the day leaving 14 runners on base.
It was more than just a missed chance to get a win, it was a blown opportunity to turn things around in a week where the hammer is quickly falling, and the clock continues to tick on someone to pay the piper.