Close Not Good Enough; Dodgers Swept

Since it wasn't horseshoes or hand grenades, the closeness didn't count but there was a positive note or two in the Dodgers fifth loss in a row, three of them coming in Detroit. Clayton Kershaw had his best major league start but after four innings, and a 47 minute rain delay, manager Joe Torre pulled him. The Dodgers rallied, scoring four in the ninth but lost 5-4.

Detroit manager Jim Leyland chose to keep his starter, Nate Robertson, in the game after the rain delay. Robertson threw in the indoor batting cage during the 47 minute respite. "He threw about two simulated innings, so his pitch count was about 30 higher than it said on the scoreboard," Leyland said. "He was going great, so we wanted to leave him out there."

Torre chose not to take the same chance with his rookie lefty, who was only making his fifth major league start. "I wanted to come back out, but Mr. Torre said I was done," Kershaw said. "I know he had my best interest at heart." Chan Ho Park replaced him, and quickly allowed five runs and eight hits in 1.1 innings.

In the ninth, Blake DeWitt singled and Russell Martin, who started as the designated hitter and wound up behind the plate, banged his sixth homer to dead center field. James Loney singled, Matt Kemp singled and with one out, Jeff Kent's pinch-hit single drove in the third run. Kemp scored with two out on a wild pitch. Pierre ended the game with a fly ball.

But in the yawning gap that is the National League West, only Colorado won so Arizona leads the Dodgers by 5 1/2. However, now both San Diego and San Francisco trail Los Angeles by only two in the loss column and Colorado this three back.

"It's not early any more—it is starting to get urgent," Torre said. "We just have to start getting some better at-bats. We didn't scare anyone until we finally got aggressive in the ninth inning."

Chan Ho Park was unavailable to pitch over the first two days of the series because of a pinch in his throwing shoulder. Park had reported feeling discomfort when throwing a slider in San Diego. He threw in the bullpen but wasn't completely free of pain.

However, he said he felt fine (let's see, isn't that what Penny kept saying?), and had made some good pitches that the Tigers had hit. He retired the first two in the fifth but the next six reached base and the Dodgers trailed 3-0.

Two more came across in the sixth when Park surrendered back-to-back homers, giving Detroit a 5-0 lead, the exact number of runs they would need to win. Despite 10 hits, the Dodgers batting average away from home dipped to .247 as opposed to their .273 mark at Dodger Stadium. The club has scored one run or less in 12 of their 34 road games (all losses).  

So two stumbling teams met and it was the Tigers who awakened -- and at the worst possible time. The Dodgers struggled through eight innings, aroused in time only to mount an too-little, too-late rally in the ninth.

The Dodgers then packed their bags and, after a needed day off today, will meet Cincinnati for four games before returning the Los Angles for nine games against American League teams -- three each the Indians, White Sox and Angeles. Over the past four years, the dodgers are a measly 16-38 against American League clubs.

"We're still close in the standings, and the ninth-inning rally was a good sign," Dodgers first baseman James Loney said. "We just have to do everything at the same time as far as pitching and hitting and try to stay as consistent as we can. And we have to try to eliminate mental mistakes, which I think we have been doing a pretty good job of lately."

Torre's Yankees teams dropped at least seven games below .500 in both 2005 and 2007, and both clubs made the playoffs. "Those were veteran clubs," Torre said. "They had something they could call upon as far as a lengthy resume, so it was a little easier to be more patient. But again, with a young team, the game speeds up, and you can maybe lose perspective if you don't have the experience that some other clubs have.

"What we keep reminding them is that if you win four or five games in a row, all of a sudden you're wondering why you didn't feel like this before. And that is something we are certainly capable of doing."

Starters for the Cincinnati series:

Tuesday-- RHP Chad Billingsley (4-7, 3.71) vs. RHP Johnny Cueto (5-6, 5.42) Wednesday RHP Hiroki Kuroda (3-6, 4.04) vs. RHP Bronson Arroyo (4-5, 5.31) Thursday RHP Derek Lowe (5-6, 4.03) vs. RHP Aaron Harang (3-9, 4.10)
 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 000 004-4
Detroit	        000 032 00x-5

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Pierre lf	5  0  2  0  .278
Maza 2b	        3  0  1  0  .245
 LaRoche ph-2b	1  0  0  0  .167
DeWitt 3b	4  1  1  0  .279
Martin dh-c	4  1  1  2  .311
Loney 1b	4  1  1  0  .295
Kemp cf	        4  1  2  0  .297
Ethier rf	4  0  0  0  .281
Berroa ss	2  0  1  0  .200
 Kent ph	1  0  1  0  .243
Ardoin c	2  0  0  0  .167
 Sweeney ph	1  0  0  0  .115
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Young ph	1  0  0  0  .295
  Totals	36 4 10 3
  Detroit	35 5 14 5

 2-base hits- Kemp (16). HR- Martin (6).
RBI- Martin 2 (31), Kent (30). LOB- Los
Angeles 6, Detroit 10. DP- DeWitt, Maza
and Loney; Berroa, LaRoche and Loney.

 Los Angeles	 in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kershaw	        4.0  2  0-0  2  2  3.75
Park (2-2)	1.1  8  5-5  1  2  2.95
Beimel	        1.2  3  0-0  1  1  1.29
Broxton	        1.0  1  0-0  0  1  4.28
 WP- Kershaw. TD - 2:50. (:47 delay).
Att- 41,189.
Collins Pays a Visit
Former Dodgers player- development director Terry Collins, who is visiting his 90-year-old father in Midland, Mich., this weekend, stopped by before the game and shared hugs and handshakes with several of the players he mentored who have since reached the majors. Collins resigned May 22 as manager of the Orix Buffaloes of the Japanese Pacific League.

Collins, who also managed the Angels from 1997-99, said frustration over the Japanese players' willingness to adjust to what he wanted them to do led to his decision to step down.

"A lot went into it," Collins said. "They asked me to come there and do something. I made some changes, and I just didn't get it done. They fight change so hard. I didn't try to make it American baseball. I just tried to make it better."

Collins left in the middle of his second season at the helm, with a year and a half left on his three-year contract. He said the team's owner tried to persuade him to stay even though the Buffaloes showed little improvement during Collins' tenure.

Former Dodgers minor league player and coach Jon Debus, who had gone to Japan with Collins, also resigned.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Chan Ho Park, remains a candidate to start Friday night against Cleveland, but only if right-hander Brad Penny misses just one start. Penny will be examined by Dr. Neal ElAttrache today, and probably undergo an MRI, to determine the cause of continued shoulder soreness. Torre said that if Penny has to go onto the 15-day disabled list, he will be replaced in the starting rotation by one of three minor leaguers, either Eric Stults, Jason Johnson or James McDonald. Stults is the clear favorite because he is the only one of the three who has both major-league experience and a 40-man roster spot. ...Shortstop Chin-lung Hu, who was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas last Monday, has been placed on the seven-day DL with vision problems, the nature of which should be known after he sees an ophthalmologist today. ... Third baseman Andy LaRoche was hit in the face by a bad-hop grounder during batting practice, resulting in a nosebleed that lasted several minutes, but he was fine and quickly returned to the field after the bleeding stopped. ...Josh Bell of Class-A Inland Empire, a top third baseman prospect, will undergo season-ending knee surgery. ...Former Dodgers slugger now with Detroit, Gary Sheffield, sidelined with an oblique strain and shoulder problems, is scheduled to start a rehab assignment with Single-A Lakeland on Monday.

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