Another Slips Through Their Fingers

It's not that their batting averages are so bad. Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Jeff Kent, Manny Ramirez, James Loney are all hitting over .275-- but its obvious that they aren't hitting with runners on base. In a painful 5-2 extra-inning loss, the Dodgers left 13 men on base, five in scoring position and let their chance slip to move closer to the DBacks slip through their fingers -- again.

Individually, Casey Blake left six, Martin five, Ethier four and both Kent and Garciaparra three each. Garciaparra has gone 34 at-bats without one, Ramirez 23, Kent 20 and Blake 18.

Los Angeles out-hit Philadelphia 13-7 but over the last sixth games they scored three runs or less and, not surprisingly, have lost five of them. The Dodgers went down in order only in the fourth inning.

This loss was particularly painful since it was the first well-pitched game by a Dodgers starter in the series. Hiroki Kuroda was exceptional through six innings, holding a hard-hitting team to only two hits and a single run in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the National League.

Chan Ho Park and Hong-chih Kuo took the slim, 2-1 lead into the ninth inning but Jonathan Broxton was tapped for a single by former Dodgers minor league outfielder Shane Victorino. After a sacrifice and a strikeout of another former Dodger, Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz (1-for-9 against Broxton lifetime), rapped a game-tying single.

Broxton blew his second save in 12 chances since becoming the closer after the All-Star break. He converted his first seven save opportunities, but since then, he has a 7.88 ERA.

Broxton pointed out his shoulder flying open during his recent appearances but could not pinpoint when that started.

The Dodgers loaded the bases with none out in the 10th but couldn't score and Feliz took advantage of that by slugging his 13th home run of the season with two on base in the 11th to move the Phillies to within a half-game of the N.L. East leading Mets.

And it dropped the Dodgers to 65-65 Dodgers fall to 65-65, after surging to four games over .500 during their recent homestand. They are now ninth in the 16-team National League.

Los Angeles scored in the first inning and then an unusual thing happened, as unusual things have a habit of doing when the Dodgers are involved and have happened since Brooklyn started to play professional baseball in 1884.

Andre Ethier worked his team-leading 41st base on balls, but it took five balls to get him to first base because the home plate umpire lost track of the count. Ethier went 3-2, fouled off a pair of pitches, took ball four and then ball five and took his base.

Phillie pitcher Joe Blanton said he wasn't going to say anything because a pitcher has to take any advantage he can get. "You're not going to rat yourself out," Blanton said. "It's just kind of one of those weird things in baseball that happens."

In any event, Jeff Kent singled him to third and James Loney lined a single into right field for a 1-0 first-inning lead.

Kuroda took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Carlos Ruiz led off with a single, was bunted to second and scored on Chase Utley's two-out single.

L.A. regained the lead in the top of the seventh. Juan Pierre led off with a single but was thrown out stealing. Kemp struck out before Ethier drew a normal four-ball walk. Kent singled to left to put L.A. up 2-1.

The Phillies tied the game in the last of the ninth.

Things looked up for the Dodgers in the 10th when Ramirez and Loney singled an pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney walked. Casey Blake bounced into a double play and Martin flew out to right field.

"Too many missed opportunities," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "That's been our situation more than just tonight."

In the bottom of the 11th, Victorino, who was a thorn in the Dodgers' side all evening long, hit what appeared to be a single to left field but then put on a burst of speed and beat the lob throw to second by a surprised Ramirez.

Jason Johnson took over from Joe Beimel and walked Chris Coste. Werth bounced out to move the runners up and with two out, slumping Jimmy Rollins on deck (two for his last 25 at bats) the chose to pitch to Feliz, a decision they would regret.

Feliz (which means "happy" in both Spanish and Philadelphian but something completely different in Los Angelenian) boomed the game-winning shot into the left field seats to end the four hour, 11-minute disappointment.

The Dodgers (65-65) seem to have nowhere else to turn. They've added bats in Blake and Ramirez, and an arm in Greg Maddux. Someone(s) will have to step up and soon or the Dodgers will again be at home watching the postseason on television, remembering this loss and a number like it.

Torre cancelled batting practice before tonight's game, hoping that will loosen his club up at the plate.

"We can't spend any time feeling sorry for ourselves, because that doesn't get us anywhere," Torre said. "Hopefully, we can relax a little bit. It just seems like we've put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

"We beat this ball club four straight at our place, and we certainly know they were better than that, but you just have to hope you make the most of the winning streaks and try to keep the losing ones to a minimum. Right now, we're scuffling, and we need to turn it around quickly."

The game with the Phillies will be the last games of the season against winning teams, save the crucial six-games left with Arizona. But with only 32 games left on the schedule, time is running out.

RHP Chad Billingsley (12-9, 3.10 ERA) gets the call to reverse the slide. He has suddenly become the Dodgers ace, an unusual position for a 24-year-old.?

He will be opposed by RHP Brett Myers (6-10, 4.71 ERA) whose record is deceiving. After a trip to the Minors, the right-hander has posted a 1.94 ERA and the team has won four of six games since his return.

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	100 000 100 00-2
Philadelphia	000 100 001 03-5

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Kemp cf	        5  0  1  0  .294
Ethier rf	4  2  1  0  .276
Kent 2b	        5  0  3  1  .283
 Ozuna 2b	1  0  0  0  .167
Ramirez lf	4  0  1  0  .380
Loney 1b	5  0  2  1  .297
Garciaparra ss	4  0  1  0  .242
 Kuo p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Broxton p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Sweeney ph	0  0  0  0  .132
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Johnson p	0  0  0  0  .000
Blake 3b	4  0  1  0  .260
Martin c	5  0  0  0  .264
Kuroda p	2  0  1  0  .119
 Pierre ph	1  0  1  0  .278
 Park p	        0  0  0  0  .111
 Berroa ss	2  0  1  0  .210
  Totals	42 2 13 2
  Philadelphia 	37 5  7 5

 Error- Garciaparra (4). 2b hits- Kemp (34).
RBI- Loney (71), Kent (57). SB- Kemp 29). 
CS- Pierre (9). LOB- Los Angeles 13,
Philadelphia 8.

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kuroda	        6.0  2  1-1  2  5  3.87
Park	        1.0  0  0-0  0  1  2.48
Kuo	        1.0  1  0-0  0  1  2.18
Broxton	        1.0  2  1-1  1  1  3.72
Beimel (4-1)	1.0  1  1-1  1  0  1.96
Johnson	0.2  1  3-3  1  0  4.56
 HBP- Ramirez, by Kuroda. TD- 4:11.
Att- 43,039,
Dodgers Targeting Sabathia?
Casey Blake told the Los Angeles Times that he thinks the Dodgers are interested in signing CC Sabathia, who was traded by Cleveland to Milwaukee recently. He has indicated he would like to be closer to home (San Francisco) and apparently has been looking for a home in Southern California.

Dodgers Blue Notes-- Torre said he would give Nomar Garciaparra a day off soon, and that could come today since he is 1-for-12 in his career against Myers. ...Joe Beimel (4-1) dropped his first game since Sept. 9, 2007, at San Francisco. ...The Dodgers dropped consecutive seven-run games Friday and Saturday after only losing one game by such a margin since June 13. ...The Dodgers are 11-11 since acquiring Ramirez. ...Martin batted eighth for the second straight game and third time this season. The All-Star catcher normally bats in the middle of the order. ...Fans can vote for the all-time Los Angeles Dodgers players and moments from the last 50 years now through Sept. 7 on dodgers.com. The winners will be announced during fan appreciation week, Sept. 19-25.

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