Dodgers Ship Goes Aground in San Francisco

SAN FRANCISCO, California-- The tired, old plot was the same: fall behind early, struggle to tie the game only to lose it in the final innings. The Giants won 5-3 on late homers by Mike Matheny and Barry Bonds off a mostly-rookie cast of pitchers. But this time when it had run its course, the Dodgers were left with the realization that their chance, however small, to reach .500 had come and gone as they dropped game number 82 with only 13 left on the schedule.

With reliable starters in short supply, manager Jim Tracy started Elmer Dessens who has pitched lights-out for the past two months. But he surrendered three runs in the third inning to erase a 1-0 Dodger margin that came on Oscar Robles third homer of the season in the top of the frame.

Los Angeles clawed back but eventually ran out of steam and lost when rookie Franquelis Osoria (0-1) gave up a home run to catcher Mike Matheny in the last of the sixth.

Jose Cruz had homered in the fourth, his 17th overall and his fifth since arriving in Los Angeles. Then the Dodgers golden chance came knocking and they couldn't quite get to the door in time.

In the sixth, trailing 3-2, Jeff Kent led off with a single. Cruz bounced into a double play but Dioner Navarro doubled and Mike Edwards singled to tie the game. Jayson Werth was hit by a pitch to load the bases and pinch-hitter Brian Myrow also singled but Edwards was cut down at the plate attempting to score.

That ended the inning and the Dodger offense. The only hit over the final three innings was a leadoff double by Cruz.

Dessens worked four innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He was followed by the rookie parade of D.L. Houlton, Osoria -- who gave up the home run to Matheny to get the loss -- Hong-Chih Kuo, who was brought in to pitch lefty-to-lefty against Bonds and took an early 0-2 lead only to give hi his 705th home run on a 3-2 pitch, and Yhency Brazoban, who threw a scoreless eighth.

Third baseman Willy Aybar was 0-for-5 to break an eight-game hitting streak.

The Dodgers (67-82) were driven 7 1/2 games behind the Padres and deeper into third place, reducing the magic number for their elimination to seven and for the Padres clinching the division to nine.

"You're hopeful that you don't have to endure too many of these," Tracy said. "But regardless of what our record is, the young kids on this club are making progress."

The loss also insured Tracy his first losing season as manger of the Dodgers, thanks mostly to a truck load of injuries that caused five regular position players, a semi-regular, a key starting pitcher and a legendary closer to miss over an accumulated 1,000+ games this season.

As a result, the Dodgers have more rookies on their current roster than perhaps any defending division title winner in history -- and the record reflects just that.

Dodger Blue Notes-- With two weeks remaining in the regular season, Tracy still hopes to see Odalis Perez will be able to pitch again before the season ends. He has gone 7-7 with a 4.73 ERA in 17 starts for the Dodgers, compiling just 102.2 innings. …Kuo, who worked one-third of an inning in his major league debut, walked two and had them both score, gave u[ a home run to Barry Bonds and now has a swollen 81.00 earned run average. Kuo had a 1.99 ERA and struck out 86 batters in 54.1 innings in a combined 28 outings between Class A Vero Beach and Double-A Jacksonville this season. …Jerry Royster, manager of the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s, joined the Dodgers as an extra coach on the staff for the duration of the season. He takes the extra spot previously manned by Minor League pitching coordinator Rick Honeycutt. …The flock of Dodger rookies, 10 of them to be exact, found instead of their suits and ties, Hooters uniforms in their lockers after the Giants game. It was a traditional, once-a-year hazing that usually involves rookies being forced to wear some type of strange clothing on a team charter flight, with their proper clothing not returned to them until they reach their hotel rooms in the next city. Observers noted that these guys looked great in skin-tight, white tank tops and tiny orange shorts. …After a day off Monday, the Dodgers will begin a three-game series at Arizona on Tuesday, with Derek Lowe (11-13, 3.57 ERA) meeting the Diamondbacks' Javier Vazquez (10-15, 4.71 ERA) in a battle of right-handers.

LA Dodgers Insider Top Stories