Rockies Threaten After Another L.A. Loss

Another pre-game meeting, another shuffling of the lineup, another veteran goes down with a potential season-ending injury and another lead dissipates to tag the Dodgers with another loss. Arizona, not know for its offensive prowess, spanked a range of Dodgers pitchers for a 9-3 win and increased their lead to 4 1/2 games, five in the loss column.

To add insult to injury, former Dodgers World Series hero Kirk Gibson was in charge of the Arizona dugout from the fifth inning on when Arizona manager Bob Melvin was kicked out of the game when he argued a fan-interference call by first-base umpire Wally Bell.

On the other side of the field, a frustrated Joe Torre may have thrown all the names in a hat and placed them in the lineup as they were drawn out, hoping to change the direction the season as been going.

Slumping Russell Martin batted first and Matt Kemp was delegated to fifth in the lineup behind Jeff Kent who left the game in the fifth inning when he aggravated a knee injury he said he has been battling for a month or more.

Give Torre an 'A' for his effort but the Dodgers, inixplicably unable to hit with runners on base, wasted 12 hits, stranded 10 baserunners, allowed four unearned runs and if the SS Dodgers Hope is not starting to sink beneath the NL West waves, the Titanic only suffered minor damage on her initial voyage.

With a busload of front office personnel, including owner Frank McCourt on hand to watch the ugly game, the Dodgers overcame a one-run lead in the fifth only to see the light-hitting Diamondbacks grind out a six-run victory.

The entire season has been puzzling but the problem has eluded any attempt to change the Dodgers fortunes.

"This is the toughest stretch of my career as far as losses," first baseman James Loney said, speaking for the team, the front office and the rest of the Dodgers Nation. "It has been tough for everybody. We're getting some hits here and there, and everybody is playing hard. But it's just tough."

Along with losing one veteran (Kent), they suffered when another veteran (Nomar Garciaparra) had a tough time in the field. The first of his two errors allowed the DBacks to overcome the modest 2-1 Dodgers lead in the fifth and his second error, a tough call on a shot that took a bad hop off his wrist, cost the club two more unearned runs. His second error also cost a pair of runs.

The Dodgers wasted a bases-loaded first inning, then finally broke through in the fifth, scoring twice and leaving men on first and third.

Diamondbacks pitcher Doug Davis was slow covering first and Andre Ethier beat out an infield hit. L.A. scored on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Matt Kemp and an RBI single by Loney but left runners at first and third.

In the bottom of the inning with two out, Garciaparra picked up a grounder and, in an attempt to get a force at second, threw the ball into right field.

That keyed a three-run rally for the Diamondbacks, turning a 2-1 Dodgers lead into a 4-2 deficit. For a team that needs something positive to happen to them, the mistake seemed to take the wind from their sails, much as Broxton's blown save against the Phillies did when it cost them a game earlier in the road trip.

"He missed his target by a good bit," Joe Torre said of Garciaparra's throw. "You could see by the way Kent reacted that it was off to the right. It looked like he just lost his grip."

The game began with three perfect innings from Hiroki Kuroda (7-10), and even after he allowed up a single and a two-out RBI double to Adam Dunn, the Dodgers bounced back quickly.

But after Garciaparra's third error in 117 chances at shortstop this season led to two unearned runs, the Dodgers offense went back into hibernation.

Then when Kent, who was hitless in his past 12 at-bats, left after the sixth inning with an aching knee, the only offense was provided by Blake DeWitt, who pinch-hit for him in the seventh and delivered an RBI single, one of only five hits for the Dodgers with runners in scoring position over their past five games.

Manny Ramirez had four of the hits (boosting his average with the Dodgers to an even .400), and also scored two of the runs, but nothing else was working. Martin went 1-for-5 without a run; Kemp was 1-for-4 with an RBI.

The Dodgers had runners in scoring position in five innings but scored in only two of those.

The bullpen allowed five runs over the final three innings. Scott Elbert, the club's top pick in the 2004 Draft, faced three batters in his Major League debut and struck out two with a walk.

Then with two out, Torre called for Chan Ho Park, who was charged with four runs (three earned) in one-third of an inning and has allowed runs in five of his past six outings. It was all over at that point.

After an encouraging 7-3 homestand, they have lost all eight games on this trip and are only 1 1/2 games ahead of the third-place Rockies.

If they were unable to do much with DBack pitcher Doug Davis (7-8), they now have the opportunity to face Arizona aces Dan Haren and Brandon Webb who are a combined 33-11 with a 3.03 ERA this season and the possibility that they may be in third place when the series is over.

Chad Billingsley (12-10, 3.15 ERA) will take the ball for the Dodgers tonight in the second game of their three-game series. He has struggled against the D-backs this year, going 0-3 with a 7.71 ERA.

The Dodgers will face RHP Dan Haren (14-6, 3.10 ERA) who pitched well against the Padres his last time out.

"It comes down to us," Torre said. "We have to come to the park not just hoping something good happens. We have to be more proactive and assert ourselves, but that's tough when you're not playing well. We have to go out and earn our money. This is where it becomes work."

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 020 100-3
Arizona	        000 130 41x-9

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Martin c	5  0  1  0  .286
Ethier rf	5  1  2  0  .279
Ramirez lf	4  2  4  0  .400
Kent 2b	        2  0  0  0  .275
 DeWitt ph-2b	2  0  1  1  .258
Kemp cf	        2  0  1  1  .291
Loney 1b	4  0  1  1  .300
Garciaparra ss	4  0  1  0  .236
Blake 3b	4  0  1  0  .264
Kuroda p	2  0  0  0  .114
 Pierre ph	1  0  0  0  .275
 Elbert p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Park p	        0  0  0  0  .111
 Beimel p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Sweeney p	1  0  0  0  .139
 Johnson p	0  0  0  0  .000
  Totals	36 3 12 3
  Arizona	35 9 10 8

 Errors- Garciaparra 2 (6). 2b hits- Ethier 
(29), Ramirez 2 (6). SF Kemp. RBI- Kemp (67), 
Loney (73), DeWitt (36). SB- Ethier 2 (5), 
Ramirez (2). LOB- Los Angeles 10, Arizona ().

 Los Angeles	in  h  r-er bb so  era
Kuroda (7-10)	5.0  4  4-2  1  4  3.87
Elbert	        0.2  0  0-0  1  2  0.00
Park	        0.1  3  4-3  1  0  3.05
Beimel	        1.0  2  0-0  0  0  2.31
Johnson	        1.0  1  1-1  3  2  4.61
 PB- Martin. WP- Johnson 2. T- 3:39.
Att- 32,610.
Dodger Blue Notes -- Jason Schmidt started and threw a scoreless, hitless inning for Las Vegas, walking one. He'll pitch again on Monday, and may be activated as a reliever after that. ...Scott Proctor followed him and pitched two innings, allowing one hit while striking out four. Proctor is expected to be activated on Monday, the day you can expand rosters. ...Andruw Jones and possibly Delwyn Young are also going to be activated that day. ...The Dodgers are now 3-for-45 with runners in scoring position over the past four games, and only one of those three hits drove in a run. ...James Loney, who is batting .406 (13-for-32) on this road trip while the rest of his teammates have struggled, holds the highest career batting average against the D-backs all-time, which is also .406 (41-for-101).

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