Dodgers starting pitcher Josh Beckett delivers a pitch against Diamondbacks… (Christian Petersen / Getty…)
The Dodgers’ rotation had been a major strength through their first 10 games of the season.
All but one starter, anyway. It’s not that Josh Beckett was stinking it up, just that he wasn’t quite in the same category as Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Greinke and Chad Billingsley.
In his first pair of starts to the season, Beckett had a 4.91 earned-run average. The other four had a combined 1.82 ERA.
But Sunday afternoon in Phoenix, Beckett pitched brilliantly. Trouble was, he was still supported by the now familiar-looking, limp Dodgers’ offense. That season-high, seven-run outburst on Saturday seemed a long time ago by the time the game approached the ninth inning Sunday and there was not a run scored by either team.
Then in the bottom of the ninth, Beckett finally blinked and the Diamondbacks squeaked out a 1-0 victory at Chase Stadium.
Arizona right-hander Trevor Cahill matched Beckett during his 7 1/3 innings, holding the Dodgers scoreless on six hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out six.
Meanwhile, Beckett was putting together his best outing as a Dodger. It made for a somewhat unexpected pitching duel, though Cahill beat the Dodgers three times last season. Neither team walked a batter Sunday until Andre Ethier got a pass in the ninth. And was thrown out trying to steal.
After 12 seasons in the majors, Beckett claims he has had to reinvent himself as a pitcher. But he was throwing up to 94 mph Sunday, giving up the lone run on six hits and a walk with nine strikeouts.
He was firmly in control with one out in the ninth when he went 0-2 to A.J. Pollock with a pitch too far over the plate and it was lined for a double. An intentional walk to Miguel Montero brought up Paul Goldschmidt.
Goldschmidt hit a simple bouncer that found the hole between first and second, and the Diamondbacks had a 1-0 victory.
The Dodgers really never threatened. Their best chance came in the seventh when Adrian Gonzalez opened the inning with a double off the center-field wall. But second baseman Martin Prado made a nice leaping catch of an Ethier liner, A.J. Ellis flied out and struggling Luis Cruz bounced out.
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