Dodgers Need Help With Offense, Bullpen

At roughly the one-fourth mark of the season, the Dodgers are similar to the computer projections and preseason predictions. They don't hit very consistently (13th in the league in runs scored) and don't hit for enough power (13th in slugging percentage at .364).

They're getting very good starting pitching (3.52 ERA ranks fourth and 26 quality starts is second best). The relief pitching is erratic (two blown saves, 5.23 ERA is second worst in the league).

The injuries aren't shocking, considering the number of 30-plus-year olds on the team. But 13 trips to the DL by 11 players, including seven right now, is a little high. Some of those injuries ñ- Casey Blake (staph infection), Rafael Furcal (broken thumb sliding into a base) and Hong-Chih Kuo (anxiety disorder) are fluky injuries that were impossible to predict.

It adds up to a 19-22 record after Sunday's 4-1 loss to the Diamondbacks in the rubber game of a three-game weekend series. They are four games behind the Giants in the National League West.

With a run differential of minus-29 runs, that projects to a 17-24 record -- so they're playing slightly above the expected outcome thanks to a 3-0 record in extra-inning games. The splits are similar: 10-11 at home, 9-11 on the road.

The most telling dividing line is when giving up 3 or 4 runs. When they give up three runs or less, the Dodgers are 17-2. When they give up four runs or more, the Dodgers are 2-20.

On Saturday, they gave up one run, an unearned run on one hit, and still lost. It was the first time since 1914 that the Dodgers allowed one hit and didn't win.

On Sunday, they scored just one run and lost 4-1.

"It's been tough," said second baseman Aaron Miles, who was signed to a minor-league contract in January and started for the 26th time in 41 games Sunday. "This is a grind. At any given point, guys will have slumps. For us right now, we have to grind through this. We have to stay with our approach, don't panic.

"The hitting is going to come around. All these guys have been in this league for a reason. I have no doubt in my mind that the hitting will come around."

Miles and Jamey Carroll continue to be bright spots as the tablesetters.

Carroll leads all shortstops in on-base percentage and is fourth in batting average. Miles had three of the Dodgers six hits on Sunday, his fifth multi-hit game in the last seven, and he's batting .340 in May.

The 5-6-7 spots haven't been as productive, and getting a key hit has been rare. The Dodgers have a .226/.320/.318 slash line with runners in scoring position. Those rank 13th, 13th and 15th respectively.

A classic example was Sunday's first inning. Carroll and Miles singled. Andre Ethier struck out. Matt Kemp walked to load the bases. James Loney flew out to center on the first pitch, and Dioner Navarro struck out to end the threat.

"We ask our guys to be ready in the first (inning) and you never know when the big part of the game is going to come," manager Don Mattingly said. "It definitely takes the momentum away (when you don't score). You'd like to get a run there."

NOTES, QUOTES
--RHP Blake Hawksworth was placed on the disabled list with a strained right groin, retroactive to May 11. The Dodgers kept waiting for Hawksworth to get better, but couldn't keep playing with a short-handed bullpen. This is the 13th usage of the DL this year for the Dodgers with 11 players, including seven current players. The Dodgers are optimistic Hawksworth can be activated when he's eligible.

--RHP Javy Guerra was called up from Double-A Chattanooga to take RHP Blake Hawksworth's place after Hawksworth was put on the 15-day DL. Guerra broke the news himself on his Facebook page. Guerra was pitching excellent, compiling a 1.06 ERA in 14 relief efforts. Guerra made his major-league debut Sunday with a scoreless ninth inning.

--RHP Zach Lee, last year's first-round pick who signed for a Dodgers record $5.25 million, was sent from low-A Great Lakes (Midland, Mich.) to the Dodgers' spring training facility in Arizona to have an MRI on his elbow. Lee felt tightness in the elbow after his May 5 start. The MRI results showed no structural damage. As a precaution, Lee is shutdown for a couple weeks before he returns to the Midwest League. Lee's pro debut is off to a sensational start, a 3-0 record, 1.17 ERA, and 28 strikeouts in 30.2 innings.

--RF Andre Ethier had been finding a knack for keeping his various streaks alive in the final three innings of games. Ethier walked Saturday in the ninth inning to extend his consecutive games reaching base streak to 37 games, but it ended Sunday with a 0-for-4 day.

--LHP Scott Elbert struck out the side in his 2011 debut in the majors, getting Ryan Roberts and Miguel Montero swinging, and Gerardo Parra looking.

BY THE NUMBERS:
15.75 ñ- Strikeouts per nine innings this year for reliever Kenley Jansen, the best ratio in the majors. Over his last seven appearances, Jansen has not allowed a run and opponents are just 1-for-23 against him.

QUOTE TO NOTE:
"(Manager Don Mattingly) even asked me afterward, 'Does your arm hurt?' I said, 'No, I was just trying to get the ball in quick to second base.' I just kind of flung it in that way Ö I have to get in [the training room] every day, 20 to 30 minutes, and get work done on it. And after the game, make sure I'm icing it and stretching it out, just make sure it's loose." RF Andre Ethier, on a left elbow that kept him out of one game, and appeared to cause him discomfort a few games ago when he was throwing.

*M*A*S*H* 4077 MEDICAL WATCH:
--RHP Blake Hawksworth (strained right groin) was injured May 10, and he didn't pitch May 11-14. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list May 15, retroactive to May 11. The Dodgers are optimistic he will return when eligible.

--LHP Hong-Chih Kuo (anxiety disorder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 10. How long he will be out is a mystery. The exact issues affecting Kuo also are a mystery.

--RHP Jonathan Broxton (bone bruise on right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 4. He is expected to be out until mid-June.

--OF Marcus Thames (strained right quad) went on the 15-day disabled list May 3.

--3B Casey Blake (staph infection in left elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 25. He's expected to be out until June. He began baseball activities May 10.

--SS Rafael Furcal (broken left thumb) went on the 15-day disabled list April 12. He took batting practice May 7, and he began a rehab assignment with Class AAA Albuquerque on May 14. He might return to the Dodgers in late May.

--C Hector Gimenez (sore right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 9. He had arthroscopic surgery April 26, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 13.

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