PHOENIX — Kenta Maeda wasn’t as sharp as he has been during his successful rookie season. But the right-hander from Japan was good enough to beat ace Zack Greinke and the Arizona Diamondbacks for the second time in less than two weeks.
Maeda limited the Diamondbacks to a run on three hits over five innings, and the Los Angeles Dodgers held on for a 3-2 victory Friday night.
Maeda (15-9) struck out six and has seven wins is his last 10 starts. He outdueled Greinke, a former Dodger who allowed only one earned run.
“My command was off in general today, and I wasn’t able to get into my groove,” Maeda said through a translator. “I put a lot of pressure on the position players to pick up the slack.
“I just made my adjustments throughout the game.”
Greinke (12-7) gave up three runs on four hits, struck out four and walked four. The Dodgers’ lead in the NL West remained four games over second-place San Francisco.
The Los Angeles bullpen held the Diamondbacks to three hits over four innings, with six relievers combining for six strikeouts. Closer Kenley Jansen gave up Chris Owings’ triple and a long sacrifice fly by Paul Goldschmidt in the bottom of the ninth, but got Jake Lamb to ground out into the defensive shift to end the game.
Jansen set a career high in saves with his 45th, though his streak of nine straight scoreless outings ended.
Reliever Joe Blanton walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, but got pinch-hitter Rickie Weeks Jr. to hit into a force play to end the inning.
The Dodgers scored twice off Greinke in the first inning. Chase Utley led off with a double and took third on a wild pitch. With one out, Justin Turner tripled to right field, just beating the relay throw with a slide, and came home on a passed ball.
“I got into some trouble early in the game,” Greinke said. “By then it was just about too late. After the first couple of batters I did as well as I could do.”
Maeda’s momentary lack of control in the bottom of the second helped the Diamondbacks get a run. Welington Castillo singled and Maeda walked Yasmany Tomas and Brandon Drury with one out. Mitch Haniger’s fielder’s choice drove in Castillo, but Arizona stranded runners at the corners.
“With Kenta you can tell. When there’s a rhythm, he’s getting ahead of guys with his fastball and throwing the slider … but he’s around the zone and getting strikes,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He didn’t really have it until the fourth inning, so it was a grind for him. But he still found a way like he seemingly always does to give us a chance to win the baseball game.”
The Dodgers made it 3-1 in the fourth. Adrian Gonzalez scored from second base on a force when Jean Segura’s throw to first for a double play got past Goldschmidt for an error. Howie Kendrick reached on the play.
“You can’t make those mistakes in a game like this,” Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said.
The Dodgers escaped with a win despite issuing seven walks. The Diamondbacks left 11 runners on base.
“The offense was fine,” Roberts said. “You know Zack was going to bring his best to atone for his last start against us. I thought that we competed very well.”
Segura made up for his error, at least some, by flagging down a ball hit up the middle by Maeda that looked headed for center field and an RBI. Segura threw out Maeda to end the inning.
The Diamondbacks put the first two batters on base in the sixth, but Dodgers reliever Josh Fields pitched out of the jam. Arizona’s bullpen held Los Angeles to one hit over three innings, but the Diamondbacks’ four-game win streak ended.
UFC, KNIGHT IN THE HOUSE
UFC athletes Forrest Griffin (retired), Cub Swanson, Johnny Case and 2008 Olympic wrestling gold medalist Henry Cejudo, who is from Phoenix, took part in the ceremonial first pitch and met with fans before Friday’s game.
Also, former Indiana basketball coach Bob Knight attended, watching the game from a suite.
Dodgers: Bud Norris was originally the scheduled starter, but the Dodgers will go with rookie RHP Brock Stewart on Saturday. Stewart (1-2) beat the Diamondbacks on Sept. 7 and will be making his fifth start of the season. Norris will be available out of the bullpen.
Diamondbacks: RHP Shelby Miller (2-11) faces the Dodgers for the seventh time in his career and the fifth start. He is 1-2 with a 7.02 ERA in his career against L.A.