LOS ANGELES -- Apparently, the Los Angeles Dodgers could still learn a thing or two about grittiness.
The Arizona Diamondbacks, the team that makes pluckiness an organizational philosophy, kept the Dodgers' season stuck on miserable with a ninth-inning comeback and a 5-4 win at Dodger Stadium on Monday night.
Not that the Dodgers didn't show some fight. They got the tying run to third with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth, but Nick Punto hit a shallow popup, Mark Ellis struck out and Adrian Gonzalez bounced back to the mound to end the game.
Clayton Kershaw, once again, was the innocent bystander.
Arizona rallied for four ninth-inning runs off closer Brandon League, who took the loss after suffering his fourth blown save of the year and third in his last nine appearances. That cost Kershaw his sixth win. The Dodgers fell to 8½ games back in the NL West. A loss Tuesday and they'd be in their deepest hole of the season.
The Dodgers were hoping to climb back to relevance with a good series here and had their top three starting pitchers lined up for the series. Instead, the only thing worth talking about right now is the white-hot start of outfielder Yasiel Puig.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, likely cognizant of Kershaw’s high pitch counts lately, lifted him after just 99 pitches in the seventh inning. Kershaw wasn’t at his most dominant, but he allowed just one run on six hits and struck out five. The Diamondbacks fouled off a lot of pitches from Kershaw in the second and third innings to drive up his pitch count.
The hottest player in the league kept it going. Puig had three more hits to raise his average after eight games to .500.
Of course, there will be some growing pains. Puig got thrown out trying to go from first to third on Jerry Hairston Jr.’s single to right field in the fourth. Gerardo Parra made a nearly perfect throw on the fly to get Puig, who dove in headfirst.
The problem for the Dodgers has been getting the other hitters to catch up to Puig. One of them finally did on Monday.
The Dodgers got a bad break in the eighth inning. Hairston chopped one to third base. Martin Prado threw out Ellis and the catcher, Miguel Montero, threw to first to complete the double play. Replays showed that Hairston was easily safe. Mattingly argued briefly with umpire Clint Fagan.