Dodgers' winning streak ends when late rally fizzles Sunday

After six consecutive wins this week, three empty at-bats doomed the Dodgers on Sunday.

Despite trailing the Toronto Blue Jays by multiple runs for most of the afternoon at Rogers Centre — in a game the hosts got a big second-inning rally from their offense, a dominant start from right-hander Kevin Gausman and a bunch of dazzling plays defensively — the door to a Dodgers comeback opened in the top of the eighth inning.

But, in the kind of squandered sequence the team had avoided during its return to form, the Dodgers failed to capitalize, wasting a bases-loaded situation in their eventual 3-1 loss to the scuffling Blue Jays.

“All the games we’ve lost, we’ve had a chance or opportunity to come back and win,” third baseman Max Muncy said. “We just haven’t had that big hit. Kind of the same thing today.”

It was Muncy who came closest to flipping the script in the eighth inning, when the Dodgers (18-12) finally found life against the Blue Jays bullpen following Gasuman’s seven-inning start.

Austin Barnes drew a leadoff walk. Mookie Betts smacked a double into the gap. And with no outs in the inning, the team had the heart of its order coming to the plate.

It didn’t make a difference.

Shohei Ohtani popped up after chasing two fastballs out of the zone. Teoscar Hernández struck out after Freddie Freeman was intentionally walked in front of him. And then, Muncy watched a deep towering drive die at the warning track, just missing extra bases (if not more) on a 370-foot flyout hit a little too high to clear the wall in right center.

“Can’t really say I missed it,” Muncy said, noting the ball’s lofted 42-degree launch angle. “Just hit it too high.”

That all but sealed the Dodgers’ first defeat since last Saturday, a setback in which — well before their close call in the eighth inning — almost nothing seemed to break their way.

Right-hander Michael Grove got knocked around at the start of a scheduled bullpen game, giving up three runs on three hits — including Alejandro Kirk‘s homer — in the bottom of the second.

His counterpart, Gausman, halted a poor start to the year by giving up just one run on a Freeman solo blast in the sixth.

Every time the Dodgers hit the ball hard, the Blue Jays (14-15) found a way to avoid damage.

A deep drive from Ohtani in the first inning was snagged by center fielder Daulton Varsho, who turned his body at the last second before making a leaping catch as he crashed into the wall.

A fourth-inning fly ball from Freeman was caught on an equally athletic play by right fielder George Springer, who drifted to the warning track before flashing the leather with a jumping grab.

Then, Springer went full sprawl on an Andy Pages line drive in the ninth, extinguishing any hope of a late Dodgers comeback — and unlikely extension of their week-long winning streak.

“They made plays,” Roberts said. “It was a good ballgame.”

Indeed, there were some silver linings Roberts and his team took from Sunday.

Freeman’s homer was just his second of the year, ending a month-long drought that has coincided with frustrating inconsistency for the former MVP — despite his .306 batting average on the year.

“Starting to more often [take] a good swing, rather than feeling one good swing every couple days,” Freeman said. I’m not trying to hit home runs. I don’t care. I just know once the swing is there for being a good hitter, the power will come behind it.”

Pages also continued his strong start to his first MLB call-up, collecting two more hits for a .302 batting average (and .861 on-base-plus-slugging percentage) through his first 11 career games.

“I’m happy that he’s getting a good little run,” Roberts said this week of Pages, the club’s top outfield prospect. “He’s a hitter first with some power behind it. I like it.”

The one Dodgers star who didn’t do much Sunday: Ohtani, who cemented only his second hitless game in the last two weeks with his pop-out in the eighth inning.

Ohtani chased an inside fastball on the first pitch of the at-bat, fouling it off to the screen. Then, he swung outside the zone again on a heater near his chest, recording the first of three empty outs that ultimately decided the game.

Roberts didn’t criticize Ohtani’s swing choice, arguing that while the pitch was high, it was a ball “that I thought he could drive.”

But, like so many other moments Sunday, the swing amounted to nothing, sending the Dodgers to their first defeat in more than a week.

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