Vin Scully salvages a forgettable evening

LOS ANGELES -- In the fifth inning of Thursday's 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds, the Los Angeles Dodgers ran a video tribute to legendary broadcaster Vin Scully on the occasion of what has become a yearly bobblehead night.

Afterward, about 50,000 people at Dodger Stadium stood, looked toward the sky-high press box and waited for Scully's response.

Dressed in an off-white dress shirt and a diagonally striped brown-and-yellow tie, the 85-year-old Hall of Famer saluted the crowd. He waved to individual fans. He blew kisses. He held his hands clasped in front of his heart. It was the only electric moment of the night, at least until Aroldis Chapman entered the game with his crackling fastball.

The way this team is going, even the dreariest of losses have something memorable about them. Who knows, maybe this Dodgers team will give Scully a few more lasting memories in his 64th season.

At the very least, Thursday's loss was easy to forgive. The Dodgers had gone 23-5 in their previous 28 games, they were playing on half-a-night's rest, at best, and their body clocks registered first pitch as 10 p.m. or so.

In an ideal world, Wednesday's game in Toronto wouldn't have begun after 7 p.m. local time, forcing the Dodgers to fly all night, touching down in Los Angeles about 3 a.m. Thursday. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, who scratched on-field batting practice to give his players a bit more rest, admitted he would have preferred to play a day game on getaway day but understands the influence TV has on the game.

Such sleepless nights have become commonplace in baseball.

"It's the nature of our game," Mattingly said. "It's just what it is. We talk about our guys not making excuses about anything. Just get ready to play."

One thing about this Dodgers team lately: It's not making many excuses, and rarely does it have to. Zack Greinke (8-3) was about as frank as could be assessing a poorly placed curveball to Jay Bruce that wound up sailing over the left-field fence, serving as the decisive blow Thursday. He said the pitch has worked on Bruce, who can punish fastballs with the best of them, in the past.

"I thought it would work always, no matter how I threw it," Greinke said.

The pitch backed up and hung, and the two-run shot largely quenched the Dodgers' comeback hopes in the sixth inning.

Greinke, who lost for the first time in more than a month, couldn't point to fatigue, because he caught a morning flight out of Toronto, standard practice for the next day's starting pitcher. That also meant he missed the opportunity to celebrate an emotional comeback win with his teammates, though.

If the first four months of this season are any indication, there should be more in the coming months. The NL West has been a logjam of teams bouncing around .500 all season and, just because they've been one of the hottest teams in baseball lately, the Dodgers aren't assuming this will be an easy stroll to the finish. They lead the Arizona Diamondbacks by just a half-game. They're bracing for an exciting final two months.

"We're in a race for sure, and it's going to be one," Mattingly said.

Most of the emotion Thursday just happened to be directed upstairs.