When the Dodgers take the early lead, they normally win.
Trouble was, little about Friday seemed normal to the Dodgers, except perhaps Hanley Ramirez hitting another home run.
But after Ramirez hit his two-run homer in the first inning, the Dodgers went quietly, ultimately falling 3-2 to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.
The Dodgers entered the day 57-19 when they scored first. They also started the day with a healthy Matt Kemp and Chris Capuano, but that didn’t last long either.
The Dodgers announced before the game that Kemp had suffered another hamstring injury while rehabbing at their Phoenix training facility and will be shut down indefinitely.
Then during the game, Capuano could not get through the second inning before straining his groin.
The Reds cut the Dodgers’ lead in half in the fourth against Stephen Fife, and then with long man Chris Withrow still in the bullpen, J.P. Howell was summoned with one on in the fifth.
Given that left-handers were hitting .161 against Howell and had not hit a home run off him in 93 at-bats all year, it was understandable he was in there with two outs and facing left-handed hitter Joey Votto.
But it was not a normal day, Votto hitting a two-run homer. And that was the ballgame.
Withrow later threw two perfect innings, striking out five, but the Dodgers never again could get to right-hander Mike Leake.
Leake, who had posted a 7.22 earned-run average in his last six starts, ended up going 7 2/3 innings, giving up only five hits, not walking a batter and striking out five.
For a Reds team in a tight three-game race in the National League Central, it was a much-needed turnaround.
The early exit of Capuano doesn’t bode well for the Dodgers the rest of the series. The Dodgers ended up using seven pitchers to complete the nine innings.
Paco Rodriguez, who had a 2.01 ERA in 67 appearances, got into trouble in the eighth. He loaded the bases with no outs on a single and a pair of walks. Not normal at all.
But Brian Wilson came on and got Ryan Ludwick to line a comebacker that he turned into a double play. He then struck out Todd Frazier to pitch out of the jam.
The Dodgers, though, had no magic against Reds closer Aroldis Chapman in the ninth. He hit 102 mph with his fastball and struck out Yasiel Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and Ramirez on 13 pitches for his 35th save.