A few minutes before 8 p.m. on Tuesday, in the fourth inning of a 7-6 defeat to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts walked to the mound at Chase Field. He had not needed to make this walk once during Rich Hill’s last outing, an overpowering but ultimately painful performance in Pittsburgh. Hill toiled by himself that night, unimpeded until the 10th inning.
Tuesday was different. There were no historical implications, no dalliances with perfection. There was only a slew of extra-base hits from the Diamondbacks, who taxed Hill for six runs in 32/3 innings. Six days after appearing untouchable, Hill looked vulnerable against a team the Dodgers could face in the National League division series.
“I fell way short of what I was supposed to do,” Hill said.
It will be up to Arizona to book that date in October. The Diamondbacks lead the NL wild-card race, and probably will need to defeat the Colorado Rockies in the wild-card game in order to qualify to face the Dodgers. Arizona presents a formidable challenge, including a lineup featuring sluggers like Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, J.D. Martinez and Jake Lamb. The group ambushed Hill for five runs in Tuesday’s first inning, and the Dodgers (91-39) could not recover, losing three in a row for the first time since June.
The lineup made the final score look respectable. Yasiel Puig and Chris Taylor homered early. Adrian Gonzalez provided an RBI double in the eighth. The offense mounted a final charge in the ninth, with Chase Utley leading off with a double and scoring on an infield single by Taylor, but Diamondbacks closer Fernando Rodney induced a groundout by Yasmani Grandal with a pair of runners aboard to end the night.
“That’s a tough team,” Taylor said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw them again down the road.”
The group could not climb out of the ditch dug by Hill. The outing delivered some unfortunate symmetry for the…