PHOENIX The Diamondbacks shook things by adding a hitter to the roster Monday, but nothing could overcome their recent susceptibility to left-handed pitchers.
The D-backs have faced two kinds of pitchers lately, righties and wrongies.
They have beaten the last four right-handers they have faced and lost to the last five lefties.
Chris Capuano, a former D-back who has persevered through two Tommy John surgeries, was the latest lefty to come away victorious in a 6-1 victory at Chase Field, a close game that the Dodgers blew open with four runs in the last three innings.
Capuano has become a force in the Los Angeles Dodgers' starting rotation and one of the reasons the Dodgers (29-13) have the best record in baseball. He limited the D-backs to one run on four hits in six innings, and he kept the D-backs off-balance most of the way, getting strikeouts on his changeup, his breaking pitches and his up-the-ladder fastball.
All of baseball has trouble with hard-throwing Clayton Kershaw types, who beat the D-backs a week ago in Los Angeles. The guys like Capuano, who spot the ball well and change speeds, have become a recent speed bump.
Bruce Chen, Jamie Moyer and Barry Zito have beaten the D-backs in the last 10 days, and it is becoming an unwelcome trend. The D-backs have lost six of the seven games started by lefties in May, and eight of the last 10.
"They add and subtract (speeds) a lot. What you have to tell yourself, you don't try to pull them. If you do, they have such good arm motion on their secondary pitches and such good location that you leave yourself exposed," manager Kirk Gibson said.
"Capuano has the best stuff I've seen. He spots all of his pitches very well. He's on the corners. He can throw any pitch wherever he wants to."
Willie Bloomquist and Aaron Hill made the adjustments in the fourth inning, when Bloomquist lined a triple into the crease in left-center field and Hill followed with a single up the middle to cut the D-backs' deficit to 2-1.
The D-backs got only one other runner as far as second against Capuano, when Paul Goldschmidt went the other way with a single to right in the fifth.
"He's a crafty lefty that knows how to get guys out. He's very good at what he does, changing speeds and changing eye level. When he's hitting his spots, he can be pretty tough," Bloomquist said.
It is the same for guys like Chen, who beat them Saturday in Kansas City, and Moyer, who beat them Wednesday in Colorado.
"They can be (difficult to hit), if you don't have the right approach against them," Bloomquist said. "They have been around as long as they have because they know how to pitch and they know how to change speeds and get guys out. They live off deception. They feed off guy being over-aggressive and thinking they are going to get a fastball, and they don't get it. They're pitching backwards a lot.
"They play with your mind, and that's what makes them good."
A lot of that trouble against lefties came while right-handed-hitting Chris Young was on the disabled list for 28 games, and putting his bat between Miguel Montero and Jason Kubel could help turn things around. Montero is off to a tough start against lefties, with four hits in 37 at-bats.
Whatever the solution, the D-backs would be well-served to find it soon.
The D-backs (19-24) are 10 game behind Los Angeles, the farthest they have been out of the division lead since 2010. Even with a similarly slow start last season, they were never further than 6 games back last year, and that was on the last day of April.
"They've played good baseball all year. We just need to worry about ourselves and doing things better in this clubhouse before we worry about anybody else," Bloomquist said.
"You can't win the pennant in April and May, but you can lose it. It's a long season, but you don't want to bank on making up 10 games every year."
D-backs left-hander Patrick Corbin was almost as effective as Capuano, who in the second inning gave up a two-run home run to fastball-hunting Matt Treanor. Corbin gave up only three more singles the rest of his 5 23 innings.
Montero may be lost for a day or two after suffering what the D-backs called a mild left groin strain in the sixth inning. Montero suffered the injury while he made a quick burst toward the backstop while chasing a foul ball that landed just beyond the screen. He stayed in the rest of the half inning but was replaced by pinch-hitter Henry Blanco in the last of the sixth.
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