It Just Wasn't In The Cards

Brett Tomko had a painful 2006 season but seemingly had turned it around with a number of solid starts earlier this year, then Monday night the not-so-struggling St. Louis Cardinals sliced and diced all of his offerings and when he left the field with one out in the third inning trailing 8-0, the boos rained down on him -- again. The Dodger could never overcome the early lead and fell 8-4.

The Cardinals arrived in Los Angeles with a 15-20 record, entered scored only 2,4 runs per game over their previous 14 games, but they fell on Tomko (1-4) from the opening pitch, whacking out nine hits and eight earned runs. The Cardinals had the majors' lowest batting average (.234), fewest runs (110) and fewest homers (17), but the 10 hits and eight runs in the first three innings gave them an easy win, the 10th straight over LA going back to 2005.

The win was the 9,000th regular-season victory in franchise history for the Cardinals, who first played in 1892. Only four other teams have won 9,000 or more games, including the Dodgers and Giants.

There was a little good news, Rafael Furcal singled in the first and third innings, giving him hits in eight straight official at-bats - one shy of the Los Angeles record set by Ron Cey in 1977. The streak ended when Furcal struck out in the fifth. It was his 14th career four-hit game and his second in succession, boosting his average from .228 to .276 over the two games and 66 points over the last nine games.

The Dodger bullpen did it's part, shutting down St. Louis completely over the final 6.2 innings. Rudy Seanez (2.2 innings), Chin-hui Tsao (2.0) and Chad Billingsley (2.0) allowed four hits and struck out six.

Billingsley's scoreless streak reached 9.2 innings with 16 strikeouts and he fanned the first three he faced this night, giving him six in succession. He then added a 1-2-3 ninth but the hay was in the barn and the announced 35,707 at Dodger Stadium were mostly on their way home by then.

Wilson Betemit, making his second consecutive start, singled and homered.

The nightmare started in the first inning for Tomko, an inning in which the Cardinals had scored in just one of their previous 35 games this season. St. Louis scored three quick runs and put three more on the scoreboard in the second and two in the third before Tomko was excused for the rest of the evening.

With the game mostly out of hand early, Little took Kent, who nailed his 350th home run earlier, Nomar Garciaparra and Russell Martin for the final few innings.

Betemit has had a dramatic resurgence, starting with a pinch-hit homer in Atlanta 10 days ago. Over that span he is 6-for-15 with three homers and two doubles. He didn't hit a home run the entire month of May, but now he's only one off the pace of last year, when he slugged 18.

The Dodgers try again tonight to to break the Cardinal jinx, when Derek Lowe (3-4, 3.61 ERA) opposes Adam Wainwright (3-2, 5.01 ERA) Tuesday night. Against the Marlins, Lowe served up a three-run homer in the last of the ninth and took a complete-game 3-0 loss.
 Score by innings
St. Louis	332 000 000-8
Los Angeles	000 100 201-4

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	5  0  4  1  .276
Pierre cf	4  0  0  0  .283
 Billingsley p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Clark ph	1  0  0  0  .256
Garciaparra 1b	3  0  0  0  .293
 Saenz 1b	1  0  1  1  .286
Kent 2b	        3  1  2  1  .301
 Martinez 2b	2  0  0  0  .170
Gonzalez lf	4  0  0  0  .270
Martin c	2  0  0  0  .313
 Lieberthal c	2  0  0  0  .200
Betemit 3b	4  2  2  1  .183
Ethier rf	4  1  3  0  .283
Tomko p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Seanez p	1  0  0  0  .000
 LaRoche ph	1  0  0  0  .316
 Tsao p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Valdez ph-cf	2  0  0  0  .236
   Totals	39 4 12 4
   St. Louis	37 8 13 7

 2B- Ethier (6), Saenz (3). HR- Kent (5), 
Betemit (3). RBI- Kent (21), Betemit (10), 
Furcal (10), Saenz (6). LOB- Los Angeles
9, St. Louis 4. DP- Betemit, Kent and

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Tomko (1-4)	2.1  9  8-8  0  0  5.97
Seanez	        2.2  1  0-0  0  1  3.00
Tsao	        2.0  3  0-0  0  2  2.81
Billingsley	2.0  0  0-0  0  3  3.80
 WP- Seanez. T- 2:48. Att- 35.707.
Fernando's Amigos: Former Dodgers pitcher and current Spanish-language broadcaster Fernando Valenzuela will host a group from Pasadena's Washington Middle School at Wednesday's game with the Cardinals as part of the Los Amigos de Fernando program. Valenzuela will host 34 children in honor of the uniform number he wore with the Dodgers and they will participate in pregame activities.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Furcal has been one of the top run scorers in baseball over the last five seasons, crossing home 464 times since the start of the 2003 season. The only players to score more often since then are Albert Pujols (533), Alex Rodriguez (508), Johnny Damon (480) and Jimmy Rollins (478). Furcal leads all active players with a .367 career average (57-for-158) against the Cardinals. ...Manager Grady Little insists that he is not platooning Andy LaRoche and Wilson Betemit at third base but LaRoche has started six times and Betemit three over the last nine games. "It's not a platoon," Little said. "It's a situation where we've got a couple of good players and each will get plenty of playing time. A platoon is when you bat the right-hander against left-handed pitching and the left-hander against right-handed pitching. This is what you call splitting time. Betemit will start [Monday] and LaRoche probably [Tuesday]." LaRoche is hitting .333 (6-for-18) since the promotion from Las Vegas. Betemit, who homered as a pinch-hitter the night before LaRoche arrived, is 3-for-10 with a homer and two doubles since then. ...Little is still concerned the Dodgers would need to add a 12th pitcher before Thursday's off-day and were hoping to get through the three games with the Cardinals without burning through the bullpen, it probably won't be necessary but Monday's debacle may have changed that. ...The Dodgers head to Anaheim for Interleague Play and the designated hitter on Friday. Little probably will choose between Betemit and Olmedo Saenz for that role. ...Greg Miller's comeback has hit a snag when his control went south recently. He has walked 32 in his last 23.1 innings and has a 6.46 ERA. He will work out of the bullpen until he overcomes the wildness. ...Dodgers Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin will be the keynote speaker at the 31st Annual Distinguished Journalists Awards Banquet at the Dugout Club at Dodger Stadium Thursday night. ...Luis Gonzalez had two hits Sunday to give him 2,407, surpassing Stuffy McInnins for 101st place all-time. He is eight hits shy of cracking the Top 100 in baseball history, with the century-spot currently being held down by Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle. Gonzalez ranks 99th all-time with 1,331 runs scored, two behind former Dodger third baseman Lave Cross. ...Mark Hendrickson drew a walk yesterday, the 10th walk by a Dodger pitcher this season which is more than any other team in baseball. Randy Wolf is tied with Chris Young for the most walks among all pitchers (4).