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Yankees load bases in ninth but can't score, fall to Dodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Max Muncy falls

Los Angeles Dodgers second baseman Max Muncy falls while looking to throw to first after New York Yankees' Brett Gardner ran into him, on a grounder hit by Gio Urshela during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Los Angeles, Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019.  Credit: AP/Kelvin Kuo

LOS ANGELES — The Yankees flexed considerable muscle here Friday night, ripping five homers in a blowout victory over a Dodgers team with some of the best pitching in baseball.

Saturday brought about a course correction.

With Aaron Judge’s homer accounting for all of their scoring, the Yankees fell to the Dodgers, 2-1, in front of a second straight sellout crowd, this one 53,803, at Dodger Stadium.

The ballpark crackled with energy throughout, and that electricity reached an apex in a wild ninth inning that had the entire crowd standing, the occupants of both dugouts perched on the railing and an umpiring controversy.

The Yankees (84-47)  loaded the bases with one out in the ninth before Kenley Jansen struck out Mike Tauchman and Gary Sanchez on seven pitches to end it.

Which doesn’t even begin to capture the ninth.

Didi Gregorius, who hit two home runs and drove in five runs on Friday night, got ahead of Jansen 3-and-1 to begin the inning but then twice bunted foul down the third-base line against the Dodgers' overshift and struck out.

“If they’re going to give it to you,” Gregorius said of the green expanse that was the left side of the infield, “I don’t think it’s a bad idea.”

Gleyber Torres singled and Brett Gardner reached on an infield single before Gio Urshela trickled a grounder to third baseman Justin Turner. His throw to second arrived at about the same time as Gardner, who knocked down Max Muncy with a hard takeout slide that Dodgers manager Dave Roberts later described as “a good baseball play.”

With the stunned Muncy down on the ground, Torres took off for home. He seemed to score the tying run, but it ultimately was ruled that Jansen had asked for time before Torres had begun his move for home and that it had been granted by plate umpire Gabe Morales. Jansen appeared to ask for time with Torres a few steps off third but stationary, and Torres was about one-third of the way home when Morales signaled for time. 

When the Dodgers challenged the call at second on the basis of slide interference in hopes of getting a double-play ruling, the out call was overturned and Gardner was ruled safe, loading the bases. Torres also was sent back to third, and that proved costly when Jansen struck out Tauchman on three pitches and Sanchez on four.

“I saw the opportunity to score,” Torres said upon seeing Muncy down. “I don’t know what’s wrong with the umpires today. But we can’t control that.”

Aaron Boone, while disappointed with the call, was calm about it, and his on-field discussion with Morales was brief. And with it being a judgment call, there’s no basis for protest.

“He had definitely started down the line,” Boone said of Torres. “You can see Kenley asking for time, maybe about when he’s getting ready to start down the line. You’d like to see the play secured a little bit more before granting that.”

Turner's two-run homer off CC Sabathia (5-8, 4.99) with one out in the third proved to be the difference in the game. Sabathia struck out seven in four innings, allowing five hits and a walk. The Dodgers managed only one hit the rest of the way against four relievers.

The Yankees were held to five hits and fell to 1-4 on their nine-game West Coast trip.

Judge drew the Yankees within a run in the fourth, giving them their first hit with his 15th homer, a leadoff shot to center on a full-count fastball. It was the Yankees' 58th homer in the month of August, tying the 1987 Orioles (May) and 1999 Mariners (May) for the MLB record for the most homers in a month. The Yankees have six games remaining in August.

It was the 213th straight game in which the Yankees scored a run, with the only longer such streak in league history the 308 consecutive games by the 1931-33 Yankees.

The streak could be in jeopardy Sunday night against Clayton Kershaw (13-2, 2.71), but it’s a game the Yankees are very much anticipating . . . as well as a potential return trip here in October.

“A playoff-like atmosphere,” Gardner said in describing the first two games. “Like I told those guys when I was on second base in the last inning, ‘Good luck the rest of the way. Hopefully we see you again.’ Great place to play, a lot of fun, and hopefully we find a way to beat a really, really good pitcher tomorrow and win the series.” 

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