L.A. Can't Hit When it Counts, Gets Swept

There are a lot of esoteric statistics floating around baseball but one of the most basic is RISP, or hitting with runners in scoring position. In he final game of the three-game series Los Angeles was 0-for-8 in RISP and are 5-for-39 (.128) over the past five games.

All six victories in the Arizona streak have come against NL West opponents. Arizona swept three at Colorado before their home-opening series against Los Angeles.

The Diamondbacks used their power to beat the Dodgers 9-3 and 10-5 in the series' first two games, but Arizona finessed their way to this win.

Starter Hiroki Kuroda certainly pitched well enough to win, particularly against a sizzling Arizona team who would win their sixth in a row. He was stretched out to 108 pitches and obviously the quality dropped off in the sixth inning when the DBacks scored twice to overcome a 3-2 Dodgers lead.

Los Angeles managed only an infield hit leading off the seventh by Andruw Jones over the final three innings of the game.

Blake Dewitt gave the Dodgers hope in the ninth when he slugged a long shot that was caught in front of the left field wall. Kuroda (1-1), in his second start since coming to the Dodgers from Japan, gave up four runs—two earned—and nine hits in 5.2 innings.

Furcal was hit by a pitch to lead the game off and Matt Kemp singled to left but the next three Dodgers wen down in order. Blake DeWitt walked in the second and Juan Pierre doubled to right to drive him in when the Arizona outfielder threw to second base rather than hitting the cutoff man.

Pierre drew the start instead of the slumping Andruw Jones and hit the ball hard to boost his average 100 points. He had an RBI double and a single in three at-bats.

Jones came in late in the game and finished 1-for-2, striking out to end the game. Jones admitted he's putting too much pressure on himself after signing a $36.2 million contract.

"I think he's trying to get it all back in one swing," Manager Joe Torre said. "I still think that he's trying a little bit too hard."

Kuroda had retired nine of the first 10 he faced, before Eric Byrnes singled in the fourth and Orlando Hudson bounced a grounder to James Loney. His throw to second was wide and glanced off Furcal's glove for an error. Before order could be restored, Arizona had two unearned runs.

"Obviously, errors are part of baseball," Kuroda said. "All the fielders have helped me a lot during the season. Instead of blaming a guy, I think I could have done so much better pitching to those hitters."

Furcal doubled to lead off the fifth and eventually scored on Andre Ethier's sacrifice fly to tie the game before Loney homered (his first) leading off the sixth, giving the Dodgers a 3-2 lead.

It didn't last very long.

The Diamondbacks loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning with two out before Byrnes lined Kuroda's first pitch (his 108th and last of the game) into left field for two runs and the game.

Chan Ho Park and Jonathan Broxton allowed only a pair of harmless singles over the the final two innings.

"They're swinging hot sticks. They can play, and we didn't even see their ace," said catcher Russell Martin, referring to Brandon Webb. "We'll turn it around. It's too early to start worrying after nine games. There's a lot of baseball left. It would sure be nice to get it going, though."

Of Kuroda, Martin said, "His splitter didn't have quite the same bite and he left a couple higher in the zone than the other night."

"They're going to hit," Torre said. "The only thing you concern yourself with is making sure that everyone knows you feel that way. I'm not concerned. It's going to happen. They have to get in the right frame of mind and feel better about themselves."

Furcal, who doubled and scored a run, said this was a good series for the Dodgers -- to forget. "We didn't play good baseball," he said. "It doesn't matter that they are young. They execute. We can play better. I think we're going to be fine."

Dodgers fall to 4-5, under .500 for the first time this year, and three games behind the Snakes in the NL West.

L.A. has lost four of their last five, and, after a day off Thursday, they get to face San Diego ace Jake Peavy. How great is that? Peavy two-hit Los Angeles earlier in the month and is 10-1 lifetime against the Dodgers, 2-0 on the season with an 0.56 ERA.

Andre Ethier said, "He executes all of his pitches. You better square up the one pitch you get for a strike, because you're not going to get much to work with. He's the best I've seen since I've been up here."

Brad Penny will opposing Peavy. Penny allowed five consecutive ground ball singles and four runs in the first inning to the Padres, then followed with five scoreless innings. He is 3-7 with a 5.63 ERA lifetime against San Diego.

The Dodgers are three games out of first place and didn't fall that far behind last year until Aug. 4.?
 Score by innings
Los Angeles	010 011 000-3
Arizona	        000 202 00x-4

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	3  1  1  0  .382
Kemp cf-lf	4  0  1  0  .269
Ethier rf-lf	3  0  1  0  .281
Kent 2b	        4  0  0  0  .241
Loney 1b	3  1  1  1  .364
Martin c	4  0  0  0  .103
DeWitt 3b	3  1  0  0  .250
Pierre lf	3  0  2  1  .167
 Park p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Sweeney ph	1  0  0  0  .167
 Kuroda p	2  0  0  0  .000
 Jones cf	2  0  1  0  .129
  Totals	32 3  7 3
  Arizona	34 4 11 4

 Error- Loney (1). 2b hits- Pierre (1), 
Ethier (3),Furcal (5). HR- Loney (1). 
RBI- Pierre (1), Ethier (5), Loney (3).
SF- Ethier. LOB- Los Angeles 6, Arizona
10. 

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kuroda (1-1)	5.2  9  4-2  2  4  2.13
Park	        1.1  1  0-0  1  0  3.00
Broxton	        1.0  1  0-0  0  2  2.08
 WP- Park. HBP- by Kuroda; Furcal. AT- 3:04.
T- 23,331.
Dodger Blue Notes--Loney's home run in the sixth made him the only player in the majors to hit safely in his first nine games of the season. Loney has hit safely in 17 of his last 18 games dating to last season. ... The 23 runs the Dodgers gave up to the Diamondbacks are the most they've given up in a three-game series since they gave up 24 runs against the San Diego Padres on July 24-26, 2006. ...After four Diamondbacks were hit by pitches Tuesday night, Hiroki Kuroda hit Conor Jackson with an 0-2 pitch on his left wrist and Jackson left the game with a bruise. ...The last step before Nomar Garciaparra returns to the Dodgers will be a Minor League rehabilitation assignment, and a decision on that could come as early as Friday, according to manager Joe Torre. At that time, impressive rookie Blake DeWitt can expect an "thanks" and a ticket to Las Vegas or Jacksonville. "It seems like the obvious thing," Torre conceded. "A lot can happen between now and then and we may decide to think another way, but as long as we have 12 pitchers, one triggers the other. That's safe to assume." ...Torre indicated Chin-lung Hu would continue as the utility infielder because he can play three positions, particularly shortstop. DeWitt was a high school shortstop, but hasn't played the position as a professional. ...Andy LaRoche has begun to swing a bat a month after surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament, but throwing will be his last hurdle and he could be looking at another month of healing. ...Tony Abreu has begun playing in extended Spring Training games. But even when he's healthy, he might have trouble getting his utility job back from Hu, who has played well and stayed healthy.

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