PHOENIX -- For a player that entered his first full big league season as the D-backs' fifth starter, Patrick Corbin carried a tremendous amount of pressure on his shoulders as the club shot up the National League West standings in the early months of the 2013 campaign.
Once thought of as the one unknown to an otherwise proven rotation, Corbin almost overnight became the shining star of a D-backs pitching staff that struggled to live up to high expectations. Even as the Dodgers took off on their historic run over the summer, he -- along with Paul Goldschmidt -- was able to keep Arizona alive in the hunt entering the final two months of the season.
But in August and September, Corbin's stellar year slowly deteriorated and with it, so did the D-backs' playoff hopes. That downward parallel trend was never more evident than Tuesday.
Needing to complete just three innings to reach 200 on the year, Corbin instead endured the shortest start of his young career, surrendering six earned runs on seven hits over two-plus innings as he and the D-backs fell, 9-3, to the Dodgers at Chase Field and moved to the brink of elimination in the division.
Arizona must win the final two games of the series with Los Angeles to prevent its rival from celebrating a division title and playoff berth on its home field.
"It was his worst outing of the year," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He couldn't hit his spots and he was missing over the middle of the plate. He just didn't have very good stuff, he couldn't get there ball where he wanted it."
With the six runs Tuesday, including four off home runs, Corbin's ERA over the last two months climbed to 5.60 while his ERA on the year reached a season-high 3.17. At the end of July, it sat at 2.24. Moreover, the 24-year-old has now served up nine long balls in August and September. He allowed that same number in the first four months combined.
"The two homers were breaking balls that I left up and they put some good swings on them," Corbin said. "I know this isn't me and it's something I don't want to continue to do."
Given how Corbin has appeared to wear down as his innings count has risen, Gibson was asked postgame if the club will consider shutting the youngster down the rest of the year. The manager, however, was noncommittal.
"We haven't had that conversation," Gibson said. "We'll see how Patrick feels."
For his part, Corbin didn't want to use fatigue as an excuse for his performance. Instead, he maintained that bad starts happen over the course of a season and his just so happen to be occurring toward the end of it.
"Earlier in the year if I had this, I don't know what you guys would say," Corbin said. "I feel fine, I just want to finish the season on a good note. It's up to them whatever they say, but I feel fine."
Although the worst of it came later, Corbin's night on Tuesday was ill-fated from the get-go. With two outs and two men on in the top of the first, the southpaw left a fastball belt-high to Matt Kemp, who turned on the offering and smacked it into left field for a two-run double.
That mistake proved to be a sign of things to come.
Two pitches later, Corbin tried to bury a slider in on the hands of Juan Uribe, but the pitch never made it to its target as the Dodgers third baseman launched the ball into the left-field bleachers, putting the D-backs in an early 4-0 hole.
Corbin made it through the second inning unscathed but wasn't so fortunate in the third. After a leadoff walk, Adrian Gonzalez hit another Corbin pitch left out over the plate, this one coming on an 0-2 count, and deposited it over the right-field fence for the second homer of the game. The next batter, Kemp, then doubled off the center-field wall before Gibson made the long walk out to the mound to remove his ace after he recorded just six outs.
"These guys are in first place for a reason," Gibson said. "If you put it over the middle of the plate, they'll hit it."
While the Los Angeles offense built a comfortable lead, Dodgers starter Zack Greinke kept the D-backs at arm's length in six solid innings. Arizona's scored in the fourth on a Martin Prado RBI fielder's choice and in the sixth on Aaron Hill's 11th homer of the year, a solo shot to left. The D-backs added a run on Willie Bloomquist's groundout in the eighth.
That was all the club would get though as the D-backs finished 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
"It's not like we didn't have a chance," Gibson said. "But it just didn't work very good for us tonight."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.