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Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Dodgers' party bus taps the brakes

By Mark Saxon


LOS ANGELES -- The way the Los Angeles Dodgers looked in the first two games of this series (and the way the Arizona Diamondbacks looked), they figured to be popping the corks off champagne bottles at the nearest possible date.

Make no mistake, it's still coming, but the question now is whether it will flow in Los Angeles or somewhere else. The Dodgers lost to the Diamondbacks 4-1 Wednesday night, keeping their magic number stuck at six. The earliest they can celebrate their first division title in four years is now Sunday, the final home game before a 10-game trip.

Yasiel Puig's highlights -- and one diving stop by Nick Punto -- were the only things worth reliving for Dodgers fans. Puig made a diving catch to take a hit away from Chris Owings in the sixth inning and hit a towering home run in the seventh inning, his 16th.

Puig also discarded the bat in an entertaining fashion, as he often does. He flung it aside with his left hand, dropping it dismissively as if it were too hot to hold.

The Dodgers fell in an early hole behind Hyun-Jin Ryu, pitching for the first time this month. He missed his previous start because of back tightness, and his command wasn't sharp. Arizona bunched three straight singles leading off the game and got off to a 2-0 lead. They tacked on a run in the second and, when he wasn't giving up runs, Ryu was working hard to avoid them.

Ryu gave up 10 hits, the second-highest total of his season, and struck out only one batter. To his credit, he did the best with what he had, somehow getting through six innings.

Ryu's night could have been worse, but Punto dove and stopped an Owings grounder from leaking into right field, saving a run -- at the time -- and minimizing the damage in the second inning.

The Dodgers were facing Arizona's best starting pitcher in 2012. This time Patrick Corbin (14-6) fared better than he had earlier in the year. The Dodgers scored four runs in five innings off Corbin back in June, but Corbin's slider and command were a bit too much for a lineup missing four regulars.

Manager Don Mattingly took advantage of his team's big lead -- as he had done last week in Colorado -- to rest Mark Ellis, Juan Uribe, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier versus the lefty.