LOS ANGELES: The floorboards were creaking for four innings. Something was closing in on Kenta Maeda.
Maeda couldn’t escape danger any longer. He gave up a monstrous three-run home run in the fifth inning to Manny Machado that nearly reached the back row of the left-field pavilion. That was enough to lift the Baltimore Orioles to a 4-1 victory Tuesday night, ending the Dodgers’ winning streak at five games.
The Dodgers’ starting pitchers were key to getting that winning streak started against the Milwaukee Brewers and Colorado Rockies. But that has melted away in splitting the first two games of the interleague series with the Orioles. Julio Urias and Maeda were touched for nine runs while lasting just a combined 71/3 innings in the past two games.
Maeda had to bob and weave for four innings just to get that far.
Clearly not at his best from the outset, Maeda allowed seven baserunners in the first four innings – on five hits, including two doubles and two walks. But he allowed just one run thanks to an RBI forceout in the second inning.
The Orioles stranded five runners in those first four innings, four in scoring position. But Maeda had to throw 73 pitches to make it through that portion of the minefield – bringing him to the brink of the danger zone.
In his 17 big league starts, hitters’ success against Maeda takes a big jump after he has thrown 75 pitches. Opposing batters have hit .191 against Maeda on any of his first 75 pitches – .351 after that. Nearly half of the runs he has allowed (14 of 33) have come after he has thrown 75 pitches.
Maeda’s 74th pitch of the night was a fastball to start the fifth inning. Adam Jones hit it into center field for a single. Maeda walked the next batter, bringing up Machado with two on and none out in a 1-1 game.
The Dodgers right-hander couldn’t slip the knockout punch this time. He served up an early birthday present to Machado (who will turn 24 Wednesday) and Machado crushed the hanging curveball, sending it an estimated 453 feet into the top corner of the left-field pavilion above the Dodgers’ bullpen just a few rows from leaving the stadium.
As it did to set up Monday’s come-from-behind win, a tag team of Dodgers’ relievers did outstanding work in Maeda’s wake. After Machado’s home run, the bullpen combined to allow just two more hits over five scoreless innings.
There was no comeback in the offing, however, as the Dodgers offense stopped to catch its breath after scoring 30 runs during the five-game winning streak.
The Dodgers managed just five hits in seven innings against Orioles starter Chris Tillman. One was a first-inning double by Corey Seager, extending the newly minted All-Star’s hitting streak to 18 games. That is the longest in the National League this season and the second-longest by a rookie in Los Angeles Dodgers history.
Adrian Gonzalez sliced a two-out single into left field to drive Seager in with the Dodgers’ only run of the night. Chris Taylor singled with one out in the second inning and went to second on a sacrifice bunt by Maeda. But he was the last Dodger to advance past first base in the game.