Dodgers Come Up One Hit Short

The Dodgers must think they are caught in a sort of "Groundhog Day" black hole where every day they come to the park and reenact the game of the day before. For the second game in succession they failed to score after loading the bases in the eighth, wasted a great pitching effort and lost to the Cubs 3-1.

Hiroki Kuroda was betrayed by his bullpen again. He's not counting, but for more times than he wants to remember he has left the game with the lead, only to see it disappear.

Given, this lead was a razor-thin 1-0, but in the seventh, an inning-opening walk, a handle hit to left field on a 3-2 pitch and Kuroda left the game in the hands of Jonathan Broxton.

Blake DeWitt fumbled a ball hit to his left as the tying run scored. Two hits later the Dodgers trailed 3-1 and with the young, overanxious offense that was a mountain they couldn't climb.

But they had a shot.

In a sickening replay of an identical 3-1 loss the day before in windblown Wrigley Field, the Dodgers had their last best chance in the eighth.

The only difference this night was that the wind was blowing in, instead of out. A wind-chill of 28 degrees and a 21 mph wind blowing in made the park play like the Grand Canyon.

Nevertheless pinch-hitter Russ Martin (so much for his night "off"), walked, Luis Maza singled to keep his seven-game hitting streak alive and Andre Ethier drew a free pass to load the bases.

Again it was James Loney at the plate; again he lined a shot down the right field line that hooked foul, again cheating him out of a grand slam and again he struck out.

Matt Kemp ended the inning on a fly ball to center field.

Pinch-hitter Delwyn Young singled in the ninth but pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney took three called strikes and Martin bounced out to end yet another disappointing game.

After wasting Chad Billingsley's solid start Monday, it was Kuroda's turn. Two unearned runs tagged him with the loss and he's now allowed more than three earned runs in only one of 11 starts but is saddled with a 2-4 record. His is ERA down to 3.29, lowest on the starting staff.

Jeff Kent opted out of the starting lineup with a stiff back just before game time. That left over $64+ million in salary (Furcal, Jones, Garciaparra, Schmidt, Bennett) unavailable.

Rafael Furcal, who is not even on the Chicago-New York road trip, is obviously the crucial piece to the puzzle with the young Dodgers desperately attempting to step up.

It was the ninth time in the 19 games Furcal has missed that the offense has scored two runs or less and the 10th time they have lost without him in the game.

The Dodgers have now lost four of their last five and scored a total of three runs in those four losses.

The starting pitching has righted itself, the bullpen has been above reproach but the offense has been, in a word, appalling.

The Dodgers scored their only run in the fourth inning when Loney singled, breaking a 0-for-14 slide, moved up on a wild pitch and scored when DeWitt sliced a single to left.

Kuroda, who used only 15 pitches to retire the Cubs in the first two innings, allowed one hit over three but then found himself with multiple runners on base in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings -- but until the seventh, that 1-0 lead held up.

The Japanese right hander walked Ron Cedeno to open the seventh. He grabbed a sacrifice attempt and nipped the runner at second but Alfonso Soriano muscled an inside pitch into left field for a single and Kuroda was finished for the evening.

DeWitt's error opened the a gate that Broxton couldn't close. Aramis Ramirez battled back from an 0-2 count and banged a 3-2 slider to center for an RBI single. Kosuke Fukudome followed by spraying a fastball for an RBI double inches inside the foul line at third.

The last two runs were unearned.

Kerry Wood closed it out for the second night in a row.

"We're fighting it now," said Torre. "We give ourselves very little room for error. When it's a close margin, everybody feels the pinch right now."

In the midst of a badly scheduled road trip Torre gave All-Star catcher Russell Martin the evening off, sort of, since he was used as a pinch-hitter and caught the final inning.

The Dodgers flew out of Los Angeles on the redeye to Chicago, arriving after one in the morning and attempted to catch a few hours of sleep before the afternoon game.

After the final game of the Chicago series, a second night game in a row, they fly to New York for a four-game series with the Mets.

After the Sunday game, yet another night game on getaway day, they fly back to Los Angeles to host Colorado on Monday.

With Martin in the dugout, the lineup had four rookies in it and none who has hit more than 15 home runs (Loney) in a Major League season.

But the home run part was not a factor. In the cold, with the wind blowing in, it would have taken a cannon to get a ball out of tiny Wrigley Field.

The Giants beat Arizona to keep Los Angeles 3 1/2 games behind and Chad Billingsley will oppose Carlos Zambrano this evening in the final game of the series.
 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 100 000-1
Chicago		000 000 30x=3

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave	
Pierre lf	4  0  0  0  .284
Maza 2b	        4  0  1  0  .400
Ethier rf	3  0  2  1  .309
Loney 1b	4  1  1  0  .274
Kemp cf	        3  0  0  0  .310
DeWitt 3b	3  0  1  0  .300
Hu ss	        3  0  0  0  .179
 Young ph	1  0  1  0  .286
Ardoin c   	3  0  0  0  .000
 Sweeney ph	1  0  0  0  .098
Kuroda p	2  0  0  0  .111
 Martin ph-c	1  0  0  0  .309
  Totals	31 1  6 1
  Chicago	43 3 11 3

  Error- DeWitt (7). RBI- DeWitt (24).
LOB- Los Angeles 8, Chicago 10. DP-
Ardoin and Hu; DeWitt and Loney.

 Los Angeles	 in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kuroda (2-4)	6.1  7  2-1  3  3  3.29
Broxton	        0.2  2  1-1  0  0  1.54
Wade	        1.0  2  0-0  0  0  1.42
 HBP- by Kuroda, T- 2:54. Att- 39,894,
LaRoche To Play 'em All
Rookie Blake DeWitt seems intrenched at third base so Andy LaRoche will be given a crash course on all the infield positions to increase the ways he can help the big league club.

LaRoche was reinstated from the disabled list May 3, but DeWitt blocked his path to the majors. LaRoche started his second game at first base for Las Vegas last night.

"We're going to move him all over the infield with the anticipation that when he comes up to this level, that if we want to get starting first baseman James Loney out of there against a certain left-hander, we can do that," Manager Joe Torre said. "It's just more options for us."

Torre said that management has also discussed the idea of playing LaRoche at second base, a position he played early in his minor league career.

The manager also guessed that LaRoche could probably play left field as well. LaRoche played a big league game in left last May.

The Walking Wounded
Andruw Jones had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee and is expected to be out four to six weeks. Jones, who is hitting .165 with two home runs and seven RBIs in the first year of a two-year deal.

"They fixed what they thought they had to fix," Manager Joe Torre said before the Dodgers' game against the Cubs. "He'll start in the next day or so with the rehab that he's going to have to do. Torre added that there was no additional damage found in Jones' knee during the procedure.

The Dodgers got some more good news when right-handed pitcher Jason Schmidt, working his way back from shoulder surgery, threw 3.1 innings in a rehab start with the Inland Empire. Schmidt threw 45 pitches and gave up three runs -- two earned -- and three hits while striking out three.

"He was good. He came out of it fine," Torre said. "Next time he'll probably go to 60. I don't think they've set the exact date but there will be and there was nothing to keep him from still going forward."

Shortstop Rafael Furcal won't return in time for the four-game series in New York against the Mets that starts on Thursday. He has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 6 with a sore lower back.

Nomar Garciaparra, who was moved to the 60-day disabled list with injuries to his right hand and left calf, will undergo further testing later this week.

"Nomar is getting his tests on Friday," Torre said. "I guess this is a test that is not done everywhere so they had to wait until they could get him in."

Second baseman Jeff Kent was scratched from the lineup because of lower back spasms.

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