Road Trip Ends, But the Memory Lingers On

Arizona mercifully administered the coup de grace to a horrendous 1-7 road trip, winning the third game of a four-game series against Los Angeles. The 5-2 defeat continued a malaise that has seen Los Angeles go 8-20 in June and have followed that with a 7-10 July. Chad Billingsley's first win kept the team from coming up empty in the eight games following the All-Star break.

The victory lifted third-place Arizona within two games of NL West leader San Diego and dumped the Dodgers into fourth place, 3 1/2 games out and only a game in front of the Rockies. The Dodgers have come back from fourth place at any point after the All-Star break to finish first in the last 50 years.
  N.L. West     w-l   pct  gb      
San Diego      50-45 .526  --  
San Francisco  49-47 .510  1.5  
Arizona        48-47 .505  2.0  
Dodgers        47-49 .490  3.5  
Colorado       45-49 .479  4.5  
In eight games since the break, four each at St. Louis and Arizona, they lost seven times, scoring a total of 16 runs. They were outhomered during that time 10-2, hit .224, and the starting pitchers had only two quality starts and a 5.24 ERA.

In losing to the Diamondbacks, the Dodgers went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and hit into four double plays, including one by Jose Cruz in the seventh and one by Nomar Garciaparra in the eighth.

Were it not for an infusion of young minor league players the club would have slipped into the International League. Thursday night's lineup also included rookies Andre Ethier and Willy Aybar batting fourth and fifth. Ethier had two of the Dodgers' eight hits.

Los Angeles ran into Arizona ace Brandon Webb (11-3) who handled them easily. He allowed two runs and seven hits and lowered his National League-leading ERA to 2.51. Webb walked two and struck out four.

Dodger starter Mark Hendrickson lasted 5.1 innings, allowing five runs and nine hits and the DBacks jumped on him for a run in the first inning.

The Dodgers tied it on Ramon Martinez' double play grounder in the second. But the Diamondbacks went up 3-1 in the bottom of the inning then added two runs in the sixth and with Webb on the mound had little trouble. In his last four starts, Webb has allowed only four runs in 31 innings.

In the seventh, a leadoff double to Andre Ethier and a walk to Willy Aybar seemed like something good might happen but Cruz bounced into a 1-6-3 double play.

J.D. Drew had three of the Los Angeles hits and is 6-for-12 lifetime against Webb. He lived on an error by his brother, Drew, in the ninth inning, knocking in the final Dodger run.

The Dodgers (47-49) fell two games below .500 for the first time since May 7 and will be facing the first-place Cardinals again tonight in a three-game series.

Realistically, a trade before the deadline at the end of the month would probably be a waste of time as well as he young talent it would take to swing the deal. Unless the players they have on the roster right now begin to play better, it is hard to imagine what single player in either league would be able to turn this slump around.
  Score by innings
Dodgers   010 000 010-2
Arizona   120 002 00x-5   

Dodgers       ab r h bi ave
Furcal ss      4 0 1 0  .266
Drew rf        4 0 3 1  .287
Garciaparra 1b 4 0 0 0  .340
Ethier lf      4 0 2 0  .347
Aybar 3b-2b    2 1 0 0  .270
J. Cruz cf     4 0 1 0  .233
Martinez 2b    2 0 0 0  .316
 Ledee ph      1 0 0 0  .243
 Perez p       0 0 0 0  .067
 Alomar ph     1 0 0 0  .333
Martin c       3 1 1 0  .287
Hendrickson p  2 0 0 0  .000
 Carrara p     0 0 0 0  .000
 Saenz 3b      1 0 0 0  .301
     Totals   32 2 8 1
    DBacks    32 5 9 5 

  2B - Drew (18); A Ethier (12); 
Martin (14). RBI - Drew (54). 
LOB - Los Angeles 5, Arizona 6.

Dodgers           in h r-er bb so era
Hendrickson (0-3) 5.1 9 5-5 2 2 4.70
Carrara           0.2 0 0-0 0 0 2.61
Perez             2.0 0 0-0 0 1 6.94
  Time- 2:22. Att- 25,294.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Cesar Izturis was still with his wife and newborn daughter in Los Angeles, and Jeff Kent is on the disabled list. Manager Grady Little moved right fielder J.D. Drew, homerless since June 1, into the No. 2 spot for the first time this year and just the third time since he joined the Dodgers. Ethier moved into the cleanup spot and Jose Cruz Jr. started in center field in place of Kenny Lofton. Although he is the National League's second-leading hitter, Nomar Garciaparra was struggling, having gone 5-for-25 for the second half. …Brett Tomko (left oblique) threw 20 pitches of early batting practice to Willy Aybar and Ricky Ledee and was pronounced fit to begin his rehabilitation assignment at Las Vegas. Tomko, who will move to the bullpen when he is activated, is slated to throw one inning of relief for the 51s on Saturday and another Monday. …Russell Martin returned from a bruised wrist Thursday night, but Cesar Izturis was still attending to family matters and Dodgers manager Grade Little, left with essentially the same deck of cards, shuffled them anyway. …Coach Mariano Duncan has spoken with Bob Watson, Major League Baseball's head of discipline, and Mike Port, vice president of umpiring, as part of the investigation into Duncan's ejection by umpire Angel Hernandez, who caught the cap Duncan threw and gave it to a fan. Duncan was told a suspension and fine are likely in ejection cases where a coach comes onto the field and fines are automatic for tossing equipment. …Infielder Bill Mueller said doctors have ruled out all known procedures to repair the deteriorating condition in his right knee. "We don't know what's left," said Mueller, who's season and quite possibly his career may be over. The Dodgers sent outfielder Justin Ruggiano to Tampa Bay to complete the June 27 acquisition of Mark Hendrickson, Toby Hall and cash. The Dodgers earlier sent Dioner Navarro and Jae Seo to the Devil Rays. Ruggiano, 24, was hitting .260 with nine homers and 45 RBI for Jacksonville.