Sloppy play costs Dodgers in finale vs. Mets

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LOS ANGELES -- Wedged between showdown series against National League West contenders Arizona and Colorado, the three-game set against the disappointing Mets was no breather for the Dodgers, who lost Wednesday's rubber match, 7-3.

The Dodgers had only three hits in seven innings off Zack Wheeler, including home runs from Max Muncy (32nd) and Cody Bellinger (22nd). But catching the ball was the real challenge.

A Yasmani Grandal error accounted for a pair of unearned runs and there were multiple uncharged misplays, as well as unlucky bloopers and bleeders behind Hyun-Jin Ryu, who struck out eight in six innings but also allowed 11 of New York's 14 hits.

"I didn't think we played good defense behind Hyun-Jin and I thought the way he threw the baseball was better than the linescore," said manager Dave Roberts. "When you're facing a guy like Wheeler, you've got to play good baseball. We just didn't give ourselves a chance today.

"There were plays we usually make, you could just look around the diamond. Whether it's added pitches or a run that scores that shouldn't or whatever. For us, at this point in time, we've got to play better baseball. This was one of those games where we just didn't execute defensively."

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Not exactly the final prep the Dodgers planned for the three-game series against the first-place Rockies that starts Friday night without All-Star closer Kenley Jansen. His cardiologist recommended Jansen not return to the Mile High City one month after suffering an irregular heartbeat in the thin air for the second time in six years. Jansen made a scoreless ninth-inning cameo in this game despite the Dodgers trailing because he won't pitch in a game again until Monday.

"We lost the series," said Roberts. "It's still in our hands. We have to go up to Colorado and play good baseball."

The game started as an efficient pitchers' duel between Ryu and Wheeler. Both pitchers were perfect through three innings, but the Mets got to Ryu in the fourth. Amed Rosario led off with a single, was doubled to third by Jeff McNeil and Wilmer Flores singled off Ryu's foot to score Rosario with runners at the corners and no outs.

Ryu almost kept it there. He struck out Todd Frazier for the first out, then got Michael Conforto to foul out to left fielder Joc Pederson, who threw a strike home on one bounce that should have erased McNeil trying to tag and score from third. But catcher Grandal, after gloving the ball, dropped it while trying to secure it with his bare hand, allowing McNeil to score and Flores to go from first to third. Flores then scored on a flare single by Austin Jackson, who was nabbed by Alex Verdugo while trying to stretch it into a double.

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"I didn't see a lot of hard-hit balls, but they battled and put the ball in play," said Muncy. "Everyone says, 'Put the ball in play and good things can happen,' and that was the case for them today."

Mets manager Mickey Callaway agreed.

"Tonight, we kept the line moving," he said. "We were putting the ball in play and giving ourselves a chance. If you touch the ball sometimes, you have a better outcome than if you strike out. We did a lot of that tonight."

Justin Turner broke up Wheeler's perfect game with two outs in the fourth inning and it was painful, a line drive off the pitcher's right shoulder, but Wheeler stayed in the game. His first pitch to Muncy was 96.7 mph. His third pitch to Muncy was a change-up hit out of the ballpark at 108.8 mph that traveled an estimated 443 feet.

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"He made a mistake and it was probably one of the only ones he made all day," said Muncy, who is second in the National League in homers.

The Dodgers needed a shutdown fifth inning from Ryu and didn't get it. Kevin Plawecki doubled and was singled to third by Brandon Nimmo. After Wheeler struck out, Rosario blooped a single that Verdugo was unable to catch after a long run and Plawecki scored. With two outs, Flores' blooper went off the glove of Enrique Hernandez and Nimmo scored.

"There were a lot of soft hits," said Roberts. "A lot of balls just found the outfield grass. I don't think it's indicative of the way Ryu threw the baseball."

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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
In the top of the fourth inning, after Rosario's leadoff single, Verdugo was unable to catch McNeil's blooper and it went for a double, keying the three-run rally.

"Nine times out of 10, I make that play," said Verdugo. "It's a play that has to be made."

SOUND SMART
The Dodgers lost a series to the Mets for the first time since July 3-5, 2015.

HE SAID IT
"It's just the altitude, it can make it happen again. It's a very high risk it might happen again, and that's why they don't want me to go right now." -- Jansen, explaining doctors' concerns about him returning to Denver

UP NEXT
Clayton Kershaw opens a 10-game trip facing the Rockies and Jon Gray in a 5:40 p.m. PT start at Coors Field. Kershaw allowed a pair of home runs leading off innings in his previous start against Arizona, but otherwise was efficient and kept the Dodgers close enough to win the game late. He is 9-4 with a 4.65 ERA in 20 Coors Field starts.

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