LOS ANGELES - Ouch! Nomar Garciaparra probably uttered that word, or something more colorful, after being hit by pitches three times, but at least his Dodgers won. Those who endured even more pain than Garciaparra Monday night were the Diamondbacks, who saw their three-game winning streak come to a screeching halt in an ugly 10-4 loss before 47,698 fans at Dodger Stadium.
By the time it was all said and done, three different batters had been hit by five pitches, the teams had combined for four errors including three by the Diamondbacks, and Bob Melvin and Randy Choate had been tossed for the third plunking of Garciaparra.
“You play games like this sometimes,” Melvin said. “We played a nice series in Oakland. We didn’t look very good tonight.”
Members of the Diamondbacks bullpen watched a lot more baseball than they played over the weekend as Miguel Batista and Brandon Webb threw back-to-back complete games Saturday and Sunday.
As it turned out, they needed the rest.
With Juan Cruz shaky in his first game back from the disabled list, the bullpen was called into action early. Six relievers got the ball after Cruz, idled since early June with a sore right shoulder, was yanked in the top of the fourth inning.
Cruz was on the best run of his career in the weeks leading up to his stint on the disabled list. He had given up just two earned runs in 19 innings over three starts before a sore right shoulder made him a late scratch from his June 6 start and landed him on the DL.
A month’s worth of cobwebs showed Monday as Cruz struggled from the start. A three-run first inning was followed by a fourth run in the third and Cruz was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fourth after throwing just 65 pitches.
He surrendered four runs on seven hits and two walks, one of which was intentional. He also hit a batter. Melvin said Cruz’s layoff, not his shoulder, was the issue.
“The velocity wasn’t where it normally is, his breaking ball wasn’t as sharp, his fastball wasn’t even getting consistently over the plate,” Melvin said. “He was a little rusty.”
Despite Cruz’s struggles, the Diamondbacks were still within two runs before the Dodgers broke the game open with a four-run fifth.
Andre Ethier led off the inning with a double that was originally ruled an error on Luis Gonzalez, Edgar Gonzalez hit a batter and Kenny Lofton had a bloop double land just inches fair in shallow right field.
The inning didn’t end until former Diamondback Jose Cruz Jr. let a batted ball hit him while advancing to third.
Garciaparra had already been hit by two pitches when he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded in the seventh. He tied a major league record that no one would want when he got plunked again by Choate.
The last time a National League player had been hit by pitches three times in one game was in 2000.
That led to Melvin being ejected for the fourth time this season. All four ejections have come since June 21.
“I wouldn’t call it target practice,” Melvin said. “Obviously it looked ugly. Sometimes you try to crowd a guy, but you don’t try to hit him.”