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LOS ANGELES – Over two nights at Dodger Stadium, the Diamondbacks have looked like imposters. Their starters have failed them. Their bullpen has coughed up runs at inopportune times. Their defense has made costly mistakes.

In losing 8-5 on Saturday night and falling behind two-games-to-none to the Los Angeles Dodgers in this best-of-five series, the Diamondbacks have looked nothing like the team that won 93 games during the regular season. They have looked overwhelmed. And they can’t seem to figure out why.

“It’s a great question,” reliever Archie Bradley said. “I don’t know if I have an answer for that. I think we’ve done everything we can to prepare and be ready. You have to go out and execute and right now we haven’t been going out and executing. We haven’t been doing the things that have helped us win all year.”

Lefty Robbie Ray was erratic in his 4 1/3 innings on Saturday. He walked four. He couldn’t throw his breaking balls for strikes. He had ridden to the rescue in the wild-card victory only three days earlier, but he could not hand the Diamondbacks their first quality start of the postseason.

“It was all self-inflicted,” Ray said. “I was just trying to do too much in situations where I didn’t need to.”

And so in Taijuan Walker and Robbie Ray, the Diamondbacks have watched as a pair of pitchers making their first postseason starts lasted a combined 5 1/3 innings in two days. Shortstop Ketel Marte let an easy double-play ball roll between his legs on Saturday. Right fielder J.D. Martinez overthrew a cutoff man, giving up an extra base on the back end. The Dodgers ran wild on Saturday, stealing four bases.

Perhaps the Diamondbacks just played poorly in consecutive nights, nothing more. But they looked like a team on their heels. Now, they need to win both games at Chase Field on Monday and Tuesday in order to force a Game 5 back at Dodger Stadium.

History is not on their side. Of the 56 teams that have jumped to a 2-0 lead in division series history, 49 have gone on to win the series. Only twice have teams dropped the first two games on the road and come back to win; 22 others have had their seasons end.

“I don’t want to make it anything bigger than it already is,” Diamondbacks infielder Daniel Descalso said. “I don’t want to put any extra pressure. What we have to do first is win on Monday. We can’t start worrying about winning three games. We’ve got to win one game first and we’ll start on Monday do whatever we have to do to win on Monday and figure out the rest later.”

Like they did in the wild-card game on Wednesday, the Diamondbacks grabbed an early lead thanks to a first-inning homer from Paul Goldschmidt only to watch as the opposition chipped away at it. This time, the Diamondbacks were unable to respond.

Ray mostly dodged trouble for three innings. But his lack of command finally caught up to him when the Dodgers essentially stopped swinging at his slider, waited him out for fastballs and collected four hits in a two-run fourth.

Despite pitching just three days after making a 2 1/3-inning relief appearance, Ray said he “felt great” and disputed the notion that his command suffered as a result. Bradley, however, wasn’t so sure.

“It’s something he’s probably never done in his career as a starter,” Bradley said. “I’m not trying to say anything to make excuses or sound bad for him, but you’re asking a lot of the guy to do that.”

The Diamondbacks led 3-2 when Ray departed two batters into the fifth, giving way to rookie Jimmie Sherfy. Manager Torey Lovullo said he would have considered going to Bradley, his best reliever, but wanted to hold off on him until the sixth.

The decision backfired. Sherfy gave up hits to each of the three batters he faced as the Dodgers put together a four-run inning, jumping to a 7-2 lead.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t work out,” Lovullo said. “Jimmie was making quality pitches to get to two strikes, and he just didn’t throw the pitches good enough to finish off some good hitters. You’ve got to give them some credit.”

The Diamondbacks got a pinch-hit, three-run blast from Brandon Drury in the seventh to cut the lead to 7-5, but the Dodgers again responded, loading the bases in the bottom of the inning against Bradley and scoring a run on Marte’s error.

“We never really got grounded, got into a flow or rhythm throughout the entire game,” Lovullo said.

They never seemed to do that on Friday, either. After a season in which their pitching largely carried them, the staff has stumbled in this series – just as it did in the wild-card game, when the offense managed to keep adding on runs.

Six years ago, the Diamondbacks dropped the first two games of a five-game series only to return to Chase Field, win two and force a Game 5. Zack Greinke was on the other side of that series, then a member of the Milwaukee Brewers.

It will be up to him on Monday to do something the rotation has yet to do this postseason. Give his team a chance to win.

“I know he loves challenges like this,” Lovullo said. “If you’ve got to pick one guy to stop this situation that we’re in, I think we’ve found the right guy in Zack Greinke.”

BICKLEY: Once the broom, Diamondbacks in danger of getting swept

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Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.

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