Dodgers fall to Diamondbacks despite Mookie Betts’ big night

Mookie Betts ran as fast as he could, jumped as high as he could, reached as far as he could.

But on the outfielder’s best night yet as a Dodger, the lasting image will be a ball that soared just beyond his outstretched glove. In the bottom of the eighth inning Friday night, Christian Walker’s bases-clearing three-run double turned a two-run Arizona Diamondbacks deficit into a one-run lead, the fatal blow in the Dodgers’ eventual 5-3 loss at Chase Field.

Before the decisive eighth inning, Betts had helped push the Dodgers in front with his bat and his arm.

In the bottom of the first, he retrieved Ketel Marte’s broken-bat line drive in shallow right and fired an on-the-fly rope to third base that easily beat Marte, who was trying to stretch a double into a triple, to the bag.

Betts put the Dodgers on the board in the fourth, turning on a changeup well inside the plate to loop a solo home run inside the left-field foul pole, his first homer as a Dodger. An inning later, he doubled the lead by whacking a first-pitch cutter the other way, driving home a runner from third.

After individual moments of brilliance in his first seven games — scoring from third base on a grounder on opening day, doubling home a run in extra innings Wednesday in Houston, making two heads-up plays on the base paths and a diving catch in right field Thursday — his three-hit, outfield-assist stat line Friday comprised his most complete effort.

The Dodgers' Mookie Betts rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Diamondbacks on July 31, 2020.

The Dodgers’ Mookie Betts rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the fourth inning.

(Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press)

Yet it all proved for not after Arizona’s four-run eighth inning.

After reliever Brake Treinen began the inning with a strikeout, a ground ball from Marte skipped off the mound and over the glove of third baseman Justin Turner, who was shifted to the middle of the infield.

After the error, the Diamondbacks’ offense — which was limited to a single hit over four scoreless innings from starter Tony Gonsolin and, up to that point, had only managed a run against Dodgers reliever Victor González, who was making his big league debut — finally kicked into gear.

Kole Calhoun drew a one-out walk. Starling Marte advanced the two runners with a soft grounder to shortstop. And the Dodgers intentionally walked switch-hitting Eduardo Escobar to get to the right-handed Walker.

But on the first pitch, Walker laced a 97-mph fastball to right-center. Betts, who had moved to the middle of the outfield earlier in the night, took an aggressive route to the ball but couldn’t elevate high enough to cut it off. Instead, it rolled to the wall while all three Diamondbacks base runners rounded the bases.

Joe Kelly entered after that but allowed Walker to score on an RBI single by David Peralta. A ninth-inning Dodgers comeback bid — fueled by a double from Betts — flamed out as Cody Bellinger flew out with runners on second and third to end the game.

Dodgers reemphasize safety measures

The Dodgers sported a new piece of equipment Friday, with all eight position players wearing a blue face covering around their neck. The addition was one of several teamwide decisions amid growing concerns over COVID-19 outbreaks in baseball that reportedly could jeopardize the season.

“We’re going to have to be accountable,” Roberts said, noting that the team’s director of player health, Ron Porterfield, is serving as their compliance officer.

“Whether it’s guys on the bench, the ’pen, away from the field — all this stuff matters. We’ve come so far to get to this point. For it to be shut down because of people being irresponsible certainly is unacceptable.”

The idea for the neck coverings came after a Friday conversation between Roberts and third baseman Justin Turner, who later told SportsNet LA that the team would reemphasize rules about safety.

“You hear the commissioner putting everyone on notice,” Roberts said, referencing reports that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred on Friday warned players’ union executive director Tony Clark that the season could be shut down if the sport doesn’t better manage the coronavirus.

“Everyone is motivated to keep going,” Roberts added. “But people’s safety and health has to be the most important thing.”

Short hops

Clayton Kershaw will make his season debut Sunday, Roberts said, pushing Walker Buehler’s next scheduled start to Monday. … After optioning Josh Sborz to make room for Friday’s starter Tony Gonsolin, the Dodgers will be adding another player to their traveling taxi squad for next week’s series at San Diego. Roberts said pitcher Mitchell White is a candidate.

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