Dodgers’ Dustin May looks shaky in loss to Diamondbacks

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Jake McCarthy slides safely into home plate before Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes can take the throw and apply a tag during the seventh inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Jake McCarthy slides safely into home plate before Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes can take the throw and apply a late tag during the seventh inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Jake McCarthy slides safely into home plate ahead of the tag by Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes during the seventh inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Jake McCarthy is safe at home after beating the tag from Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes during the seventh inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Jake McCarthy celebrates in the dugout after scoring on a sacrifice fly by teammate Emmanuel Rivera (not pictured) during the seventh inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May throws to the plate during the first inning of their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May shows his frustration after walking the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Daulton Varsho during the first inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Christian Walker hits an RBI single in front of Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes during the first inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Alek Thomas breaks his bat as he grounds into a fielder’s choice during the second inning of their game against the Dodgers on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Jake McCarthy celebrates in the dugout after scoring on a single by Christian Walker (not pictured) during the third inning of their game against the Dodgers on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May looks toward first base during the fourth inning of their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Corbin Carroll hits a three-run double off of Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May during the fourth inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Corbin Carroll, left, runs to first after hitting a three-run double off of Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May during the fourth inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May shows his frustration after giving up a three-run double during the fourth inning of their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Daulton Varsho, left, and Geraldo Perdomo, center, score on a three-run double by Corbin Carroll as Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes stands at the plate during the fourth inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Daulton Varsho, right, and Geraldo Perdomo, left, score on a three-run double by Corbin Carroll while Jake McCarthy, second from left, congratulates them as Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May stands in the background during the fourth inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Carson Kelly, center, celebrates with Daulton Varsho and Geraldo Perdomo after they scored on a three-run double by Corbin Carroll during the fourth inning of their game against the Dodgers on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May tosses a ball after giving up a three-run double during the fourth inning of their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May throws to the plate during their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws to the plate during the first inning of their game against the Dodgers on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner pitches to the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts during the fourth inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Dodgers’ Mookie Betts heads to first base as he hits a solo home run off of Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner during the fourth inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Dodgers’ Mookie Betts celebrates as he runs the bases after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Dodgers’ Mookie Betts celebrates as he heads back to the dugout after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The Dodgers’ Mookie Betts, left, is congratulated by teammate Freddie Freeman after hitting a solo home run during the fourth inning of their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Dodgers starting pitcher Dustin May throws to the plate during the first inning of their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner throws to the plate during the sixth inning of their game against the Dodgers on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly looks back for the ball after the Dodgers’ Miguel Vargas hit a foul pop-up during the fifth inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Carson Kelly drops a foul pop-up hit by the Dodgers’ Miguel Vargas (not pictured) during the fifth inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Dodgers relief pitcher Alex Vesia throws to the plate during the sixth inning of their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Dodgers relief pitcher Tommy Kahnle tags out the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Christian Walker between home and first base during the seventh inning on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Recently retired longtime Kings player Dustin Brown, left, smiles with Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner as he leaves the field after throwing out a ceremonial first pitch before a game between the Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES ― Six games into his return from Tommy John surgery, Dustin May has given the Dodgers equal reason for optimism and worry.

To the optimist, May’s weapons on the mound – a five-pitch arsenal bolstered by a 100-mph fastball – appear no worse for his 15-month layoff that began with elbow surgery in May 2021. To the pessimist, the Dodgers’ 6-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday night demonstrated how May’s sporadic command and one big hit can lead to a lopsided defeat.

May (2-3) was roughed up for seven hits and five runs in four innings. He walked two batters and hit another. The Dodgers had not lost consecutive games since a streak of three in a row from Aug. 31-Sept. 2 and had not lost two in a row at home since July 25-26, but they will carry a two-game losing streak into Thursday’s series finale.

The Dodgers’ meager offense left May (2-3) almost no path to victory. Mookie Betts’ solo home run against Madison Bumgarner (7-15) was their only hit until the ninth inning. The loss by itself meant little, however, besides dashing the Dodgers’ chances of breaking the all-time regular-season record for wins (117).

The more pressing concern was May, a potentially large piece of the Dodgers’ five-man October rotation. He has allowed zero or one earned run in three starts since being activated from the injured list. In the other three starts, May has an ERA of 9.00.

“(Arizona) hit the stuff that I threw in the zone, and I threw a lot of balls in bad counts,” May said. “I set myself up for failure, walking guys and giving up weak contact. It’s just overall bad.”

Veteran catcher Austin Barnes, noting the speed and movement on May’s fastball and slider, leaned toward optimism. He took the blame for over-relying on May’s four-seam fastball in certain situations.

“Today was a bad outing,” Barnes said. “We just didn’t do it today.”

But Manager Dave Roberts noted a consistent pattern in May’s three losses that was not present in his other three outings – including five no-hit innings in San Francisco in May’s previous start.

“He’s doing a lot better sequencing,” Roberts said. “The two-seamer, better. The breaking ball, better. It’s not a mental thing. We’ve got to kind of be willing and open to using your entire pitch mix.”

May’s inconsistency is not related to his physical recovery, Roberts said.

“It’s not just about stuff,” he said. “It’s something he’s got to continue to learn and understand. That’s why the radar gun can be misleading at times. The velocity was there. It’s been there all year for him. There’s a strike quality, getting ahead, a component of when you have a hitter in a leverage count you have to put him away.

“Trying to bully guys – which I think at times he’s guilty of with the four-seamer – gets to be too predictable.”

The Diamondbacks were leading 2-0 when they loaded the bases in the fourth inning on two walks and a hit batter. Up stepped Corbin Carroll, who correctly hunted a first-pitch fastball and lined it to the outfield for a bases-clearing double.

May finished out the inning, then gave way to reliever Chris Martin. Arizona had no hits and only two baserunners over the final five innings against five different pitchers.

Arizona used a walk, a stolen base, and an RBI single by Christian Walker to score solo runs in the first and third innings against May.

“I just need to execute,” he said. “It’s just part of it. I’m to a point where I feel comfortable with everything. I just need to go out and execute it. It’s not really a thing with Tommy John anymore. I just need to go out and throw strikes.”

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Bumgarner, the veteran left-hander, was every bit May’s opposite. He retired the first nine batters in order before surrendering Betts’ 35th home run of the season to begin the fourth inning. He walked one batter and struck out five in six innings.

“You tip your cap,” Roberts said.

“He’s still Madison Bumgarner,” Betts said. “He’s not just a horrible pitcher. He gets paid a lot of money to do what he’s doing. He’s still Madison Bumgarner at the end of the day.”

After Betts’ home run, the Dodgers (103-46) put only three runners on base the remainder of the game, never threatening to emerge from their early deficit before an announced crowd of 38,845.