Dodgers pitcher Chris Withrow betrayed twice by fastball command.

Chris Withrow

Dodgers reliever Chris Withrow (center) has seen his ERA rise by more than a full run this week by virtue of three runs allowed on fastballs. (Getty Images)

It wasn’t the reason the Dodgers lost the game or the series, but Chris Withrow allowed two home runs to the Boston Red Sox in an 8-1 defeat Sunday.

Withrow allowed both home runs — a two-run blast by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a solo shot by Shane Victorino — on 96 mph fastballs down the middle of the plate. That’s simply the worst spot a pitcher can leave a pitch. The rookie right-hander threw two innings in relief of Chris Capuano and was charged with three runs, all earned, to end a rough week on the mound.

Withrow also gave up a home run Monday in Miami, a tape-measure shot by Giancarlo Stanton in a Dodgers win. Stanton’s homer also came off a fastball.

After the game, Withrow said “I wouldn’t say it worries me” that all three home runs came off fastballs, his preferred pitch. “I just didn’t execute.”

Withrow entered the week with a 2.21 earned-run average and has seen it rise to 3.38 since. According to the website BrooksBaseball.net, Withrow is throwing a four-seam fastball on two out of every three pitches, averaging 97 mph. He said his curveball was good tonight, his slider a “little off,” and yes — he knows opponents are looking for the heater.

“They’re probably geared up for fastballs,” he said, “but it doesn’t matter how hard you throw it. If you don’t have location, these guys are going to hit it.”

Saltalamacchia’s two-run home run in the sixth inning came as a left-handed hitter, which is typical for a switch-hitter. Victorino’s solo home run came as a right-handed hitter, which isn’t typical, but is working out OK for Victorino for the first time in his career. Victorino is hitting right-handed exclusively this month because of a hamstring injury that he believes prevents him from planting properly in the batter’s box as a left-handed hitter.)

The Dodgers have a number of right-handed relievers who have been used regularly before the eighth inning, including Brian Wilson, Carlos Marmol and Brandon League. It will be interesting to see if Withrow’s recent struggles bump him down in the bullpen pecking order.

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About J.P. Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra covers the Dodgers, Angels and Major League Baseball for the Los Angeles Daily News, Long Beach Press-Telegram, Torrance Daily Breeze, San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Pasadena Star-News, San Bernardino Sun, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, Whittier Daily News and Redlands Daily Facts. Before taking the beat in 2012, J.P. covered the NHL for four years. UCLA gave him a degree once upon a time; when he graduated on schedule, he missed getting Arnold Schwarzenegger's autograph on his diploma by five months.