Dodger Lead Melts Down to One

If you are around baseball long enough, you come to realize that losing a 9-0 game is not the worst thing that could happen. A 1-0 loss will keep a manager up all night, thinking about the many things he could have done differently to change the final outcome. At least Manager Grady Little didn't have that problem after Milwaukee poked another hole in the Dodger pennant with a 9-0 thumping.

It was a night they couldn't pitch (13 hits), and couldn't hit (four scattered singles) as their once comfortable four-game lead melted away to one game after San Diego dumped Colorado 5-4 with Mike Piazza smacking his 417th home run and reaching 20 home runs for the 12th time in 15 seasons.

Remind me again why we traded him.

It just might be the Dodgers, once known as Bums, got caught up in the "Herd Effect".

The Associated Press reported that yesterday, for the first time since 1972, there were seven shutouts in the major leagues in a single day, or night as it turned out. In the National League, Arizona defeated Florida 4-0, St. Louis beat Washington 2-0, Cincinnati defeated San Francisco 3-0 and Milwaukee blanked Los Angeles 9-0. In the American League, Boston beat Chicago 1-0, Minnesota defeated Tampa Bay 8-0 and Kansas City blanked the New York Yankees 5-0.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the most shutouts on one day in 34 years, since there were a record eight on June 4, 1972, when 13 of 16 games played were shutouts.

Did anyone else notice there was a full moon?

As you can tell, there is some tap dancing around here because there is nothing much positive to tell you about the game.

Rolling into Milwaukee after their seven-game winning streak ended, the Bums, er, Los Angeles, dropped their third in a row.

Somehow, after smashing Colorado 14-5, the Dodgers offense has seemingly taken some time off to take a bus tour through New England to see the autumn leaves turn colors, or have accepted one of those cut-rate cruise offers that one is bombarded with from time to time.

They have been outscored 27-8 during the skid, the 7 1/2-game lead on July 26, has melted away in the warm California sun.

The game you say? Well, if we must.

The immortal Doug Davis, who had lost three straight, pitched a four-hitter and equally-famous Corey Hart homered twice and drove in a career-high six runs for the host Brewers who had dropped 10 games in a row before the Dodgers came to town. Davis upped his record to 10-9 and improved his ERA to just under five.

The final 16 Dodgers went meekly into that good night.

On the other side of the field, Mark Hendrickson (1-7) lasted just four innings for the second straight time, giving up five runs - four earned - and seven hits. He has lost three straight decisions and has one victory since June 20.

Julio Lugo, who played behind Hendrickson the last two seasons, says the big (6-9) lefthander is more tentative now and not the same pitcher.

Whatever the reason for his ineffectiveness, he probably lost his spot in the starting rotation, or as the Los Angeles Daily News noted, "He has as much chance of getting the ball for his next scheduled start Sunday against the New York Mets as he has of winning a limbo contest."

But Hendrickson, 5-15 overall and 1-7 with the Dodgers, became the 11th starter in the Dodgers' past 14 games to fail to complete six innings. And in those starts they have combined for a 5.48 ERA.

Newbie Eric Stults got his first look at the Elephant and was hammered for five hits and three runs in three innings.

So Derek Lowe will be given the ball tonight, to hopefully stop another of those sickening slides the team seems to fall into after a winning streak.

The offensive report is obviously going to be brief.

Four singles, two by Rafael Furcal and two by rookies Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. Starters Kenny Lofton, Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent, Julio Lugo and Russell Martin were a collective 0-for-15.

The team has a double dozen games to go in this wacky season, with four games against the Padres in Dodger Stadium waiting for them after they return from the current road trip.

If they manage to stay afloat over their current tour of Milwaukee, New York and Chicago, it just might be the time they heat up again and shake off the San Diego jinx.

If not, all of us -- including the Dodgers -- will be watching the post-season on television -- or searching for that New England bus tour brochure.
  Score by innings
Dodgers    000 000 000-0
Milwaukee  302 010 21x-9

  Dodgers      ab r h bi ave
Furcal, SS      3 0 2 0  .291
 Repko, CF      1 0 0 0  .261
Lofton, CF      3 0 0 0  .304
 Martinez, 3B   1 0 0 0  .286
Garciaparra, 1B 3 0 0 0  .308
 Diaz, C        1 0 0 0  .500
Kent, 2B        3 0 0 0  .274
 Robles, 2B     0 0 0 0  .185
Ethier, LF      2 0 1 0  .332
Kemp, RF        3 0 1 0  .269
Lugo, 3B-SS     3 0 0 0  .289
Martin, C       3 0 0 0  .290
 Hamulack, P    0 0 0 0  .000
Hendrickson, P  1 0 0 0  .000
 Betemit, PH    1 0 0 0  .280
 Stults, P      0 0 0 0  .000
 Saenz, PH-1B   1 0 0 0  .292
   Totals      29 0  4 0
   Brewers     37 9 14 9

  Errors- Kent, Hamulak, Martinez. 
LOB: Los Angeles 3, Milwaukee 8. 
CS: Furcal (11). DP: (Furcal and 

  Dodgers          in h r-er bb so era
Hendrickson (5-15) 4.0 7 5-4 1 4 4.41
Stults             3.0 5 3-3 1 1 9.00
Hamulack           1.0 2 1-0 0 0 5.58
  WP: Hendrickson 2.
T: 2:30. Att: 13,427.
Dodger Blue Notes-- Las Vegas pitching coach Ken Howell joined the major-league staff and will stay for about two weeks before beginning his stint as the pitching coach for the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League. At that point, Jacksonville manager John Shoemaker will join the Dodger staff for the rest of the season. …Chad Billingsley, who threw 78 pitches in the bullpen before the game and said he felt much better, will unavailable because of a mild oblique strain and left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo will make his first major league start Friday night's game against the New York Mets. Kuo made nine starts for Las Vegas, going 3-3 in those games with a 2.61 ERA. …James Loney went 4-for-8 in his final two games in Las Vegas to win the Pacific Coast League batting title with a .380 average. …Derek Lowe (13-8, 3.79) draws what promises to be the first of many crucial starts down the stretch, this one against Milwaukee lefty Chris Capuano (11-9, 3.55).