Dodgers’ offense sputters in low-scoring loss to Reds

Brandon Sloter-The Sporting Tribune
The Dodgers could not take advantage of their scoring opportunities as they dropped their fourth consecutive game and second in Cincy.

Starter Walker Buehler got off to a slow start as the Reds once again relied on their home-run hitting for a 3-1 victory Saturday at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park and hand the Dodgers their fourth consecutive loss.

Buehler allowed six hits and walked one as he made his way through 5 2/3 innings. He threw 61 strikes on 91 pitches but allowed two home runs.

The right-hander is 1-2 across four starts this year and allowed three earned runs in three of those starts.

The Dodgers, who have scored three runs or less in three of their last four games, struggled all afternoon to get runners across the plate in their biggest chances. They finished 0-7 with runners in scoring position and collected five hits in the game.

Los Angeles has scored three runs or less in three of their last four games.

Here are three takeaways:

Buehler struggles early

If it weren’t for a rough first two innings, Buehler would have put together a solid outing in Cincinnati. He allowed a solo home run to Spener Steer in the first inning that was one of three hits in the frame.

It was Steer’s second consecutive day with a homer.

In the second inning, Reds outfielder Will Benson provided another solo home run, putting them on top for good. Buehler allowed four of his six hits within the opening two innings, slowing his momentum for the rest of his outing.

The 29-year-old holds a 4.26 ERA after facing Cincinnati in his last two appearances. His previous action against them May 18 saw him toss six dominant innings.

Just like James Paxton in Friday’s game, Buehler’s vulnerability to the home run ultimately cost him. If he can limit the power of opposing lineups going forward, he has proven that he will be just fine.

Dodgers miss key chances

Los Angeles was given a couple of huge opportunities to add on some runs but could not convert. The Dodgers had managed to load the bases with no out in the second inning.

Singles from Will Smith and Teoscar Hernandez as well as a walk from Gavin Lux set the table for Jason Heyward. While he did get the Dodgers on the scoreboard, he did it with a double play.

In the sixth inning, Shohei Ohtani legged out a triple with one out.

Then Freddie Freeman and Will Smith flied out and popped out, respectively, to again help Cincinnati escape a jam. The Dodgers went 0-4 with runners in scoring position during these two situations alone, summarizing what was a frustrating day at the plate.

The 5-9 hitters in the lineup combined for an 0-for-10 day. The energy was not there for the Dodgers, who have struggled to produce runs during this season-high losing streak.

Bullpen performs nicely

The Dodgers bullpen did their best Saturday to keep the team within striking distance. Ryan Yarbrough, who replaced Buehler with two outs in the sixth, threw 1 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball.

Yarbrough allowed three hits, including two leadoff singles, but worked around trouble. The 32-year-old tossed 30 pitches in his first appearance since May 22 as his ERA dropped to 2.97. He also delivered his first scoreless outing since May 12.

Blake Treinen worked the final two outs of the eighth, striking out both batters that he faced in 10 pitches, keeping ERA through seven appearances. The righty has put together a healthy season for the first time since 2021.

The bullpen has allowed 10 earned runs during the losing streak, putting more pressure on the lineup to win from behind. Prior to the skid, the bullpen had been a huge reason for the Dodgers’ success.

The Dodgers and Reds will meet at 9:10 a.m. Sunday for the final game of the series. First pitch was rescheduled from its original time of 10:40 a.m. because of severe weather expected later in the day.

Los Angeles will right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto (5-1, 3.17 ERA) to face Cincinnati left-hander Brent Suter (0-0, 4.13 ERA), who is making his second start of the season.