Diamondbacks crushed by Dodgers in record-setting loss

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For the Diamondbacks, visits to Dodger Stadium tend to be rife with frustration. They are usually filled with walkoff hits, blown leads and other pratfalls that lead to painful losses. But the Diamondbacks skipped the frustration on Saturday night and proceeded directly to embarrassment.

A night after stopping a nine-game losing streak at Dodger Stadium, the Diamondbacks started a new one on Saturday — and then some. In getting demolished, 22-1, by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Diamondbacks tied or established a slew of franchise records, all of them embarrassing.

The 22 runs were the most allowed in a game in club history, eclipsing by one the previous high (21, set Oct. 2, 2015, vs. Astros). The 21-run differential marked the most lopsided loss ever, three more than the old record (18, set Sept. 2, 2002, vs. Dodgers). And the eight homers allowed tied a club record set once before — also at Dodger Stadium (on March 28, 2019).

Their starting pitcher did not escape the second inning. Their bullpen was bombed. Their offense did not produce. And they added another inexplicable defensive blunder to their season-long blooper reel.

And yet, in manager Torey Lovullo’s mind, the Diamondbacks did not hit rock bottom on Saturday night. They are past that, he said. Even more, he said, they are a ballclub moving in the right direction. Lovullo quickly dismissed the notion that this might be the low point of the season.

“Nah,” Lovullo said. “Nah. That ought to tell you the type of season that we’ve had. You lose 20-plus (24) games (in a row) on the road. You’re fighting a 16-, 17-game losing streak, whatever that number was (17).

“I think, for me, we’re on the rise. We’re in a different spot. I think we’re well beyond our worst days here.”

That is certainly one way to look at it. And for a team that had won three of four entering Saturday — and a club that has a chance to claim a series victory on Sunday afternoon — it is understandable how an optimist such as Lovullo could see it that way.

But to call the Diamondbacks a team “on the rise” is a hard sell after such an ugly performance.

“We got our butts kicked,” Lovullo said. “I don’t like it. I don’t think anybody in our clubhouse likes it. I know the coaches don’t like it. Nobody likes it. We’ve got to find a way to get better and stop games like that from happening. It’s unacceptable.”

The Dodgers’ A.J. Pollock and Albert Pujols each clubbed two homers apiece. Justin Turner and Mookie Betts each hit a grand slam. The Diamondbacks were forced to insert a position player, veteran Josh Reddick, to record the final two outs of the eighth.

And left fielder David Peralta somehow dropped a routine fly ball that opened the door for the Dodgers to score three more runs in their merciless seven-run seventh inning.

Left-hander Caleb Smith gave up back-to-back homers to Cody Bellinger and A.J. Pollock in a five-run first. Four batters into the second it was 9-0, with Turner swatting a grand slam to put the game out of reach. That was the end of Smith’s night.

For much of the evening, it felt like that would be story of the night: a bad start by Smith, coupled with the offense getting shut down by the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler. Those things happen.

Then came the seventh and eighth innings.

With two on and one out in the seventh, Diamondbacks lefty Alex Young deflected a ball through the box that went for an infield single. Had he let it go, it likely would have been an inning-ending double play and the score would have remained 9-0. Instead, Betts followed with a grand slam to make it 13-0.

Two batters later, the Dodgers’ Zach Reks hit a medium-depth fly ball to left field. Peralta was under it, but the ball clanked off his glove. Zach McKinstry and Pujols followed with back-to-back homers.

The eighth was unsightly, as well. Reliever Jordan Weems served up a homer, allowed a single, issued two walks and gave up a bases-clearing triple to Gavin Lux, bringing Lovullo back to the mound to summon Reddick for his first career pitching appearance. He retired two of the five batters he faced and in the process gave up career home run No. 675 to Pujols. It is the first of Pujols’ career to come against a position player.

The night before, the Diamondbacks played a clean game. They got a solid performance from their starter. Their bullpen held a lead. The defense and baserunning were on point. They looked like a competent team.

“The thing that’s confusing to me is how we can be so good one day and then have this happen,” Lovullo said. “But baseball is a funny game. We’ve got to get some good starting pitching, get us deep in the game and that’s the recipe. That’ll help us get back on our feet tomorrow.”

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