Friday, June 14, 2024

Julio Urias gives up three home runs as Dodgers lose to Red Sox

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BOSTON — In a couple months, Julio Urias will become a free agent and his representatives at Boras Corp. will market him as an elite starter, a young ace capable of leading a starting rotation.

But he has not pitched like one all that often this season.

Urias gave up three home runs Saturday afternoon at Fenway Park, including a three-run shot by Adam Duvall in the sixth inning that erased a Dodger lead as the Boston Red Sox handed them an 8-5 defeat.

There was plenty of drama along the way in a series that has been played at playoff intensity with emotions heightened by the number of players on both teams facing their former mates.

Trailing 7-4 after Urias gave up six in his six innings and the Red Sox tacked on an unearned run in the seventh, the Dodgers mounted a comeback in the eighth.

Mookie Betts drove in a run with his third hit of the day and the Dodgers loaded the bases for Max Muncy whose 30th home run had given the Dodgers a 4-2 lead in the fifth.

Chris Martin came in to face him and got ahead 0-and-2. Muncy fouled off a pitch then took a split-fingered fastball down and in.

Home plate umpire Jordan Baker called it a strike.

“I was shocked,” Muncy said after the game. “It felt very down to me. And, looking at the replay, it definitely was.”

Muncy lifted his bat over his head and heaved it away with two hands, prompting a response from Baker and setting off a confrontation between the two. Jason Heyward came over from the on-deck circle to get between them, but Baker quickly ejected Muncy. Dave Roberts got the same when he came out of the Dodgers’ dugout to argue, spreading his arms wide in disbelief at the quick trigger.

“I told him the ball was down, to which his response was, ‘You threw your bat,’” Muncy said, an equipment violation that will draw a fine. “That kind of locked me up a little bit and so then I just responded with, ‘I need you to lock it in in a big situation like that.’ And he goes, ‘Oh, okay’ and threw me out. It was as simple as that.”

August ended with a thud for Urias, who seemed to rediscover his form for most of the month. In his first four starts in August, he was 4-0 with a 1.44 ERA.

But three of those starts were at home, where Urias has indeed been himself this season. He is 8-1 with a 2.30 ERA while holding batters to a.196 average – the kind of numbers Boras can turn into a big payday.

Urias’ subpar season, though, has been built on the road. With Saturday’s loss, he is 3-6 with a 7.07 ERA while allowing a .298 batting average in 10 starts away from home.

At least his first postseason start should come at Dodger Stadium.

“No, it’s simply baseball. It’s baseball,” Urias said in Spanish when asked about the home-road splits. “Obviously, you have to pitch better at home, you have to pitch better on the road. Simply, the team gave me the lead and I couldn’t keep it and obviously that’s what hurts.”

Urias looked at home through the first five innings Saturday. He gave up solo home runs to former teammates Alex Verdugo and Justin Turner – the first of three hits in the game for Turner – but had a 4-2 lead after Muncy’s two-run, go-ahead homer in the top of the fifth.

For Verdugo, it was the third consecutive game he has led off with a home run. Only two other players in MLB history have done that – Ronald Acuna Jr. for the Atlanta Braves in 2018 and Brady Anderson for the Baltimore Orioles in 1996.

Urias’ troubles started in the sixth inning when Turner led off with his second hit – a double off the Green Monster. Rob Refsnyder followed with a single before Urias won a seven-pitch battle with Rafael Devers, striking him out on a cutter.

Urias got ahead of the next hitter quickly, but Duvall fouled off two 0-and-2 pitches before getting another cutter down and in and lifting it into the Monster Seats in left field for a three-run home run to give the Red Sox the lead.

“Obviously, those are things that happen in baseball,” Urias said. “I feel like I tried to attack the first batter. That was the key. Obviously, JT got me with the double and I feel that gave them the possibility to change the game for them.

“It’s baseball. That happens and, simply, it hurts. It hurts, but, well, in five days, six, you have to return and pitch better.”

The Duvall homer seemed to unsettle Urias. A walk and stolen base set up an RBI single by Reese McGuire before he could get out of the inning.

“Honestly I was as surprised as anybody with how the outcome ended up in his outing,” Roberts said. “The stuff that he had, the strikeouts (nine), the command. … It just seemed the wheels fell off after the JT double.”

The Red Sox sandwiched unearned runs around Muncy’s strikeout to take a three-run lead into the ninth. With the Red Sox closer (Kenley Jansen) sidelined by a hamstring injury, the Dodgers loaded the bases again with two outs in the ninth – this time for Betts.

The crowd gave him another standing ovation before his first at-bat Saturday and the moment seemed set for Betts to play the hero. But he flew out to deep center field to end the game.

“It was just a normal moment. It wasn’t anything that I haven’t been faced with before. I didn’t come through though,” Betts said.

“We’re producers not directors. I produced a good swing. I can’t direct where it goes.”

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