Dodgers Find No Magic in Cincinnati

After Chad Billingsley was roughed up early, everything was set up for another ninth inning miracle; bases-loaded, Andre Ethier at the plate and trailing 4-1. But the results were as disappointing as much of the post All-Star break. Ethier strikes out, Manny Ramirez strikes out, Dodgers lose 4-2 to Cincinnati.

The Reds won their season-high fifth straight game and remained the NL's only unbeaten team when leading after eight innings, improving to 48-0 although the Dodgers nearly broke up the streak.

Billingsley, shooting for his 13th win of the season, was banged around, leaving he game after allowing a solo home run to open the sixth and trailing 4-0. The young right-hander failed to go six innings in five of his last nine starts, going 3-4 over that span and dropping to 12-8 on the season.

"It's definitely frustrating when you're not pitching well late in the season," Billingsley said. "I've just got to keep trying to figure something out."

Cincinnati's Homer Bailey, who worked eight scoreless innings to earn the win and even his record to 4-4, still left the game with a 6.04 earned run average. He pitched out of a one-out, two-on jam in the eighth by getting Ramirez on a liner to center and striking out Casey Blake. Ramirez had left two on in the sixth inning as did Blake who followed him.

Trailing by four in the top of the ninth, the Dodgers were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and had left eight on base. That would all get worse.

James Loney homered (#9) off reliever Francisco Cordero, who was pitching in his fourth straight game, to break the shutout. He retired Russell Martin on a popup and Orlando Hudson bounced out to shortstop. Then pinch-hitter Mark Loretta kept hopes alive by dropping a single into short right, Furcal dumped a soft single into left and Matt Kemp walked to load the bases.

Andre Ethier, who had struck out twice already in the game and five times in the last two contests, fouled off a number of pitches. On July 22, he crushed a grand slam that was the difference in the game and that had to be on everyone's mind. But he missing a breaking ball in the dirt that eluded the catcher and on the wild pitch Loretta scored the second run.

Now it was Manny's turn with the bases loaded and the game on the line but he took a third strike to end the game. Ramirez has gone seven straight games without an extra-base hit, and has only one —a double— in his last 13 games. He left eight runners on base this night.

"There's no question we need him," manager Joe Torre said. "That's the responsibility he's had for years. Right now, he's just a little out of whack."

The Dodgers lost a chance to put a bit more spaced between them and Colorado after the Giants Tim Lincecum shut them out 2-0.

After their tough series in Colorado the Dodgers had hoped to gain a little more ground on the Giants and Rockies against a Reds team beset by injuries. Torre wondered before the game if there might be a letdown and the Dodgers were just that --listless-- until they got a last chance in the ninth.

"We were flat," Torre said. "We caught a little lightning in the bottle at the end."

The Dodgers were 20-3 against the Reds since 2006, their best record against any NL team, and had already pounded Bailey when he pitched at Dodger Stadium on July 21, giving up a career-high nine runs and eight hits in 2.2 innings of a 12-3 loss.

This time, the Dodgers acted like they'd never faced him before and the Reds put men on base throughout his five innings. Billingsley escaped a bases-loaded mess in the fifth, only to serve up a homer to lead off the sixth.

Ramirez, who was hit on the hand July 21 against the Reds. Since his grand slam the following night, his average has dropped from .348 to .306. Torre said Ramirez could have developed some bad habits while recovering from the injury but added that he doesn't think the injury is affecting the slugger now.

Billingsley is also struggling. Since beating the Reds on July 22 he is 2-2 with a 4.28 ERA and is 12-8 after starting 10-5.

The Dodgers will send RHP Charlie Haeger (1-1, 1.93 ERA) to the mound against the Reds tonight in only his third Major League start. He took a three-hit shutout into the eighth inning against the Cubs in his last start and the bullpen held on to preserve his first victory since 2006.

The Reds will trot out another starter with an earned run average over six, rookie LHP Matt Maloney (0-2, 6.11 ERA). He was 9-9 with a 3.08 ERA at Triple-A Louisville. Sunday at Toledo he allowed four runs and six hits over six innings with two walks and seven strikeouts.

  Score by Innings
Los Angeles	000 000 002-2
Cincinnati	012 001 00x-4

  Dodgers	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	5  0  3  0  .257
Kemp cf        	4  0  2  0  .314
Ethier rf	4  0  0  0  .285
Ramirez lf	5  0  1  0  .306
Blake 3b	4  0  0  0  .275
Loney 1b	4  1  1  1  .276
Martin c	4  0  2  0  .260
Billingsley p	2  0  0  0  .204
 Belisario p[	0  0  0  0  .000
 McDonald p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Mota p	        0  0  0  0  .333
Loretta ph	1  1  1  0  .226
  Totals	38  2 10  1
  Cincinnati	32  4 11  4

  HR- Loney (9). RBI- Loney (75).
LOB- Los Angeles 11, Cincinnati 10. 

  Dodgers	    in  h r-er bb so  era
Billingsley (12-8) 5.0  7  4-4  1  1  3.83
Belisario 	   1.0  1  0-0  0  2  2.26
McDonald	   1.0  1  0-0  0  1  4.11
Mota        	   1.0  2  0-0  1  2  3.39
   WP- Billingsley. T- 3:02. Att- 19,258. 
Dodger Blue Notes-- Hiroki Kuroda will throw a simulated game today. ...Billingsley was unable to pitch at least six innings for the first time since a start on Aug. 2 against the Braves and has pitched at least six innings in 21 of 27 starts this season. ...The Dodgers still lead Colorado by 4.0 games and the Giants, who picked up a game, are six back. The Dodgers still have the best record in the National League at 76-53, just a half game better than the Phillies (74-52). ...After Matt Kemp homered in the final game of the Colorado series while hitting second in the lineup, he has hit homers from six different spots in the batting order this season (2nd, 5th through 9th), as have teammates Casey Blake (4th through 9th) and Andre Ethier (2nd through 7th). Ethier and Kemp both have exactly six homers and 21 RBI in August to lead the team, while Blake ranks third with four homers and 12 RBI during the month. ...The Dodgers are 12-0 at Chavez Ravine and 8-4 against the Reds in Cincinnati. ...The Dodgers have been in sole possession of first place in the NL West for 144 consecutive days since the start of play on April 19. They have had at least a share of the lead for 146 straight days since the start of action on April 15. ...Closer Jonathan Broxton saved his 28th game in the final game of the Colorado series and moved into a tie with Jay Howell (1989) for 10th place on the franchise's all-time single-season list.     

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