DBacks Raining on Dodgers Parade

The addition of a three of veteran players seemingly has done little to jump-start the sputtering offense and the Dodgers lost a 4-1 decision to Arizona, who scored all their runs in the fifth and Los Angeles scored once in the eighth inning on an RBI single from Manny Ramirez.

Experts have determined that the Dodgers have much the easier schedule over the final month, mostly playing only teams with a losing record -- Arizona, Pittsburgh, Washington and San Diego -- but with the complete loss of pop they have experienced, even the Dayton Dragons would be a threat.

They've been held to two runs or fewer 11 times in the past 24 games and both Colorado and San Francisco are creeping up on them again, the Rockies trailing by 4 1/2 after beating the Phillies and old friend Brad Penny shut out the Phillies for eight innings and the Giants are 5 1/2 back.

Chad Billingsley is being roasted for allowing three earned runs over six innings and Clayton Kershaw criticized for being winless since July 18 but Cy Young couldn't post a winning record if his team was 2-for-19 with runners in scoring position as have been the Dodgers in three games against the D-backs.

On Monday, they scored three runs on five hits; Tuesday they got four and squeezed out a 4-3 win.

Again Billingsley was perfect for 4.1 innings before things blew up in his face and the Diamondbacks, keyed by a two-run homer, scored four times. One of the runs was a direct result of shortstop Rafael Furcal's error.

The pitchers and fielders know that the margin of error is so small, they dare not make a mistake, and knowing that they inevitably do.

Billingsley certainly has not been pitching well, but one might expect to win a game now and again if you only allow three runs.

With 16 wins he was Dodgers biggest winner in 2008 and started the season that way, winning his first five decisions and recording a 9-3 record in mid-June. He finished June with a 9-4, 2.89 record and since then has gone 3-5, 5.22.

This game Billingsley was perfect with one out in the fifth, before he allowed a double and then Ethier was unable to duplicate his game saving catch on Allen as he did in the second game of the series. This one landed deep in the right-center seats for a two-run homer.

"Well, I'm not concerned. I thought he was great today," Torre said. "That one inning he gave up the double and the home run, bang, bang. The other two runs they scored were a little weird, the balls were hitting the wrong side of the infield, made an error, stuff like that.

"I thought his stuff was good. I thought he got frustrated, too, after having such an efficient first part of the game, but I thought mechanically he was back where he should be tonight. Today was a step forward for certain."

Billingsley agreed. He gave up a single to right, a single to Max Scherzer, the Arizona pitcher, two infield singles and Furcal's error.

"I wasn't frustrated. I threw the ball well," Billingsley said. "I came back in here and looked at the pitches. They hit a good pitches. You can't do anything about it. That's the way the game goes. I felt a lot better today."

Pinch-hitter Juan Pierre walked, Furcal had a drag-bunt single and Ramirez singled in the eighth for the only Dodgers run.

Ron Belliard started at third base to rest Casey Blake, who is 3-for-30 in his past eight games and he had a single in four trips. Andre Ethier doubled and singled twice. However Matt Kemp, James Loney, Russell Martin and Orlando Hudson were a collective 0-for-15.

Frustration has begun to raise his ugly head. Manny Ramirez popped out with two men on and two outs to end the sixth, Matt Kemp lined out with runners on first and second in the eighth and one of the mildest of them all, James Loney threw his bat nearly into the dugout after bouncing out in the seventh.

The Dodgers are hoping that newly arrived RHP Jon Garland (8-11, 4.29 ERA) can make do with three or so runs and put things back on an even keel. He'll be facing his old teammates and is coming off seven shutout innings against the Astros.

On the mound for Arizona will be RHP Billy Buckner (2-5, 8.63 ERA), who will be making his first start since being recalled Monday from Triple-A Reno. Buckner has made seven starts for the D-backs this season. This is his third stint in the big leagues and his last win came against the Dodgers when he tossed six scoreless innings at Dodger Stadium on June 1 in a 2-1 Arizona victory.

 Score by Innings
Arizona	        000 040 000-4
Los Angeles	000 000 010-1

 Dodgers	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	4  0  1  0  .255
Ethier rf	4  0  3  0  .285
Ramirez lf	4  0  1  1  .305
Kemp cf        	4  0  0  0  .314
Loney 1b	4  0  0  0  .273
Billiard 3b	4  0  1  0  .245
Martin c	4  0  0  0  .256
Hudson 2b	3  0  0  0  .291
Billingsley p	1  0  0  0  .200
 Mientkiewicz ph 1  0  1  0  .500
 Elbert p	0  0  0  0  .200
 McDonald p	0  0  0  0  .000
 Pierre ph	0  1  0  0  .322
 Haeger p	0  0  0  0  .000
---------------------------------
 Totals	        33  1  7  1
 Arizona	34  4  7  4

 Errors- Furcal (17), Billingsley (3).
2B- Ethier (36), RBI- Ramirez (50).
LOB- Los Angeles, Arizona 6. 

 Dodgers	    in  h r-er bb so  era
Billingsley (12-9) 6.0  6  4-3  1  5  3.86
Elbert	           1.0  0  0-0  1  1  5.51
McDonald	   1.0  1  0-0  0  2  4.05
Haeger	           1.0  0  0-0  1  1  3.63
 T- 2:31. Att- 45,076.
Roster Continues to Change
The Dodgers continue to add to their roster with the arrival of pinch-hitter Jim Thome and the activation of utilityman Doug Mientkiewicz.

Right-hander Jesus Castillo and outfielder Jamie Hoffmann have been designated for assignment and prospect Victor Garate was sent to the Washington Nationals as the player to be named in the Ronnie Belliard trade. At Chattanooga this season, the 24-year-old Garate was 0-1 with four saves and a 2.04 ERA. He held Southern League hitters to a .191 batting average and stranded 17 of 21 inherited runners.

Tony Abreu will be sent to Arizona to complete the Jon Garland trade, leaving reliever Will Ohman wondering what would happen to him.

Elite Company
The Dodgers now boast a pair of 500-home run hitters in Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome. Thome ranks 12th on baseball's all-time list with 564, while Ramirez ranks 15th with 542. The 1,106 home runs for the pair make them the third-greatest home run combo in Major League history.

Thome and Ken Griffey Jr., who were teammates with the White Sox in 2008, finished that season with a combined 1,152 career home runs. And in 2005, Orioles teammates Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro ended their season with a combined 1,157 homers.

Dodger Blue Notes-- Matt Kemp's career-best home run streak ended at four games, and the Dodgers failed to homer after a season-best streak of eight games in a row. ...RHP Hiroki Kuroda will throw a bullpen session today and is scheduled to start Sunday against San Diego. ...The Dodgers and the Cardinals now share the National League's best record at 79-55. Los Angeles had been in sole possession of the NL's top mark for 92 straight days. ...Doug Mientkiewicz's pinch-hit single in the sixth inning in his first hit since April 16, when he dislocated his shoulder sliding into second base. ...After going 3-for-4 on Wednesday, Andre Ethier is now batting .367 (29-for-79) with 15 RBIs in his past 20 games with an at-bat.

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