Dodgers Lose Game and Perhaps Saito

The Dodgers have changed medical personnel nearly as often as they have changed batting coaches but the results have been less than satisfactory. The latest injury, one that threatens to put a 15th player on the Disabled List, saw closer Takashi Saito leaving the game with "tightness" in his elbow. Ramon Troncoso allowed a pair of runs in the 11th inning to lose 5-3.

Saito said the problem surfaced he came in to pitch and had struck out the first two Marlins. He went 2-2 to the next hitter before signaling to the dugout that he was in distress.

Brian Falkenborg finished the inning without any damage and Ramon Troncoso, the sixth Dodgers pitcher of the night, threw a scoreless 10th before allowing a pair of doubles and a sacrifice fly in the 11th to pick up his first loss of the season.

"It wasn't a stinging pain, but a strong tightness that got worse and worse. It was a good idea to quit," Saito told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, adding that the discomfort felt differently than the bone chips he suffered in 1997 that led to surgery while he was pitching in Japan.

He is 3-3 with 17 saves, a 2.18 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 41.1 innings over his 39 appearances. He is scheduled to have an MRI Monday.

Overall the pitching was certainly good enough to win most games but again the Dodgers offense staggered.

In a season of frustration, it seems as if Saito will be the 15th Dodger placed on the disabled list this season.

As large as the injury seems, a bigger problem confronts the Dodgers as they somehow cling close enough to Arizona, who won their game, and the vision of a possible playoff slot seems tantalizingly close but always just out of reach.

The Dodgers offense went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight. Newly appointed leadoff man Nomar Garciaparra, Andruw Jones and James Loney left three men on base, Loney two and Garciaparra one in scoring position.

Matt Kemp was moved down to seventh in the order and hit a second inning home run, his ninth, to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.

The first run came in the first and tied the game at one. Garciaparra beat out an infield hit and Andre Ethier singled and Russell Martin walked to load the bases with no one out.

Disappointinly, they managed only a single run on Jeff Kent's ground ball before Loney and Jones fanned.

"It's something that wears on you," said Torre, whose club lost an extra-inning game at home for the second time in three days. "The longer you go without winning games like this, the tougher it becomes. Each at-bat seems to take on an enormous amount of tension. We're not putting ourselves in a good situation. We can write the lineup, but they have to perform."

Hiroki Kuroda gave up a run in the first, sixth and seventh innings before Joe Beimel finished the seventh with the Dodgers now trailing 3-2.

Andre Ethier's 11th home run in the eighth knotted things again but was the final Los Angeles run of the game. Andy LaRoche's pinch hit single in the last of the nine was the only Dodgers hit in the final three innings.

In the bottom of the eleventh, Jones struck out for the fifth time but reached base on the Marlin catcher's throwing error. But Loney, Kemp and DeWitt went down quietly to end the game.

The loss was the third straight for the Dodgers, who slipped two games behind Arizona with only today's game on the schedule before the All-Star break mercifully ends the first half of the season.

Garciaparra was 0-for-4 after his first inning single and his average slipped to .228. Jeff Kent was 1-for-5 and is fighting a stiff back, accounting for his one home run in the last five weeks.

Andruw Jones, again hearing the fans loud displeasure, was 0-for-5 with five strikeouts, tying the Dodgers' record of futility set by Bill Russell and Darryl Strawberry, and Blake DeWitt, after driving in 29 runs in April and May, has knocked in five during June and July.

Torre said, "Our pitchers are doing a real good job, but we've leaving them no breathing room. Hiroki Kuroda pitched well enough to win. We need to do a lot better than we've been doing."

Kuroda, after a near no-hitter inn his last start, allowed a first inning run, a home run Cody Ross led off with a double, stretching his hitting streak to 15 games.

Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton, Saito and Falkenborg held the line before rookie Ramon Troncoso took the loss.

The Marlins have shut down what seemed to be a hot Dodgers team that had won four straight series and nine of 13 games and in a dead tie with Arizona. They will scramble to win the last game of their four game set today,

Today's lineup will probably not include Kent and Garciaparra who played all 11 innings. Torre said he would wait to see how they felt before making that determination.

In today's game, RHP Chad Billingsley (8-8, 3.38) will attempt to end the first half on a positive note. ?His four-game win streak was snapped by the Braves when he allowed a season-high six runs in 5.1 innings.

He will be opposed by LHP Andrew Miller (5-8, 5.09) who has dropped three straight decisions, and looks for his first victory since June 16 at Seattle.

 Score by innings
Florida	        100 001 100 02-5
Los Angeles	110 000 010 00-3

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Garciaparra ss	5  1  1  0  .228
Ethier lf	5  1  2  1  .286
Martin c	4  0  0  0  .297
Kent 2b        	5  0  1  1  .253
Jones cf	5  0  0  0  .167
Loney 1b	5  0  0  0  .292
Kemp rf        	5  1  1  1  .278
DeWitt 3b	4  0  2  0  .263
Kuroda p	2  0  0  0  .069
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Young ph	1  0  0  0  .257
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Saito p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Falkenborg p	0  0  0  0  .000
 LaRoche ph	1  0  1  0  .195
 Troncoso p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	42 3  8 3
  Florida	40 5 10 5

 HR- Kemp (9), Ethier (11). RBI- Kent
(40), Kemp (49), Ethier (41). LOB- Los
Angeles 8, Florida 6.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kuroda	        6.2  7  3-3  1  5  3.43
Beimel	        0.1  1  0-0  0  0  1.67
Broxton	        1.0  0  0-0  0  1  3.40
Saito	        0.2  0  0-0  0  2  2.18
Falkenborg	0.1  0  0-0  0  0  6.43
Troncoso (0-1)	2.0  2  2-2  0  2  4.91
 T- 3:36. Att- 55,200.
Dodger Blue Notes-- It was the first time Garciaparra hit leadoff since July 16, 2002 with the Red Sox. The six-time All-Star set a major league record in 1997 with 98 RBIs in the leadoff slot, a major league record that stood until 2000. ...The Dodgers have allowed first-inning runs in each of the first three games in this series, after holding Atlanta hitless over the first four innings in each game of their three-game series. ...The loss dropped the Dodgers to to 24-24 at home, the first time they were .500 at home since April 15. ...The Dodgers dropped to 8-11 on the season against the National League East and clinched their first series loss in its past five series. ... Jeff Kent snapped an 0-for-14 slump with a single in his second at-bat. He had gone five straight games without a hit for the first time since Aug. 8-13, 2007. ... U.S. Olympic shooting team member Jeff Holguin threw out a ceremonial first pitch before Saturday's game. ... Actor Nestor Carbonell from the upcoming movie "The Dark Night" also threw out a ceremonial first pitch.

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