PHOENIX -- Now the Dodgers are streaking in the other direction.
Clayton Kershaw returns from the disabled list on Friday, asked to stop a season-high losing streak that reached five on Thursday with a flat 8-1 defeat to the D-backs. The Dodgers suffered their first series sweep of the year against a team that dislikes them and hopes to face them in the postseason, as the D-backs currently lead the National League Wild Card race.
"They're a good offensive club, they're playing at home, they're feeling good about themselves," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, whose club's last five-game losing streak was April 25-30, 2016, and was last swept at Chase Field in 2008.
"It's baseball. We got Kersh going tomorrow. To get a good start out of him is something we expect to get us back on track. With where we're at right now, not that he needs more motivation or incentive, I know he wants to put a stop to this little downslide."
The Dodgers are still a staggering 50 games above .500, but the division lead of 21 games last week has been trimmed to 16 games. They are winless since starting shortstop Corey Seager left the lineup with a sore elbow, and he won't be back for at least a week. They are 2-6 since the Sports Illustrated cover jinx was activated. Everybody now wants to beat the Dodgers, especially the D-backs.
"Teams are looking to go out and play their best baseball against us," said Roberts. "The clip we were on for a few months, obviously, we were in rare company."
Again, starting pitching was the primary culprit. Kenta Maeda joined Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu for a rare trifecta of inadequate starts. Maeda allowed two homers and seven runs (most as a Dodger) in three innings, bringing the trio's series totals to 19 runs in 10 2/3 innings (16.03 ERA) that included six home runs and 14 extra-base hits.
"Starting pitching this series wasn't there," said Roberts. "When you start behind the 8-ball, it's tough to fight back. You're as good as your starting pitching. For three days, we didn't have it. We have to turn the page."
Gonzalez has seen the up-and-down swings of pennant races for more than a decade. He was not sounding any panic alarms.
"They definitely beat us, they outhit us. I think it was one of those times in the year that every team goes through," said Gonzalez. "We've been fortunate and good enough that we haven't gone through it. I think we'll recover tomorrow and get back on track. I think we're resilient, we know what we got to do. I do think there's something to be said to just continue to win and go into the postseason without losing. When we face them in L.A. [beginning Monday], we can turn that around."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.