The Dodgers have been missing their top three pitchers over recent weeks: Clayton Kershaw with a separated (right) shoulder, Randy Wolf with a stiff elbow and Chad Billingsley with ... well ... no one knows just what is the matter with the young man who rolled to a 9-4 record early in the season.
But for all of that, they have received remarkable pitching from many different directions, enough in fact to lead the National League in earned run average.
This night Vincente Padilla was not Cy Young incarnate has he has been, but still pitched tolerably well. Not well enough, however.
San Francisco rallied from a 4-3 deficit in the sixth inning and scored the final four runs of the game off three different pitchers: Padilla, Ramon Troncoso (4-4), who allowed two runs and three hits in two-thirds of an inning, and Billingsley who was used in relief for the first time this season and didn't fare much better than he did as a starter.
San Francisco whacked three home runs, the Dodgers two, by Rafael Furcal (#8) and Manny Ramirez (#19), and the Giants' bullpen didn't allow a run after the fifth inning.
Despite the loss, the Dodgers magic number slid to eight after Arizona bopped the Rockies 7-5. Colorado trails by five and the Giants by 7 1/2 with 13 games left on the Los Angeles schedule.
Eugenio Velez homered in the first inning but Ramirez knocked in Andre Ethier, who had been hit by a pitch, with a double in the bottom of the inning.
Padilla was tagged for three runs in the third on Pablo Sandoval home run. The Dodgers picked up two to tie the game when Ramirez homered with Ether on base in the fourth and tied the game on Furcal's home run in the fifth.
Orlando Hudson singled in the seventh and Casey Blake singled in the eighth but the Giants' bullpen allowed no other hits.
Fred Lewis and Velez had RBI doubles in the sixth, Aaron Rowand homered and Velez, who was a thorn in the Dodgers side all night, tripled in a run in the eighth. Juan Uribe singled in the final run in the ninth.
Padilla gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings, struck out three and walked one. It was his second no-decision to go with three wins in five starts since signing with the team on Aug. 19. Even after being roughed up his ERA is 2.96.
"He (Padilla) didn't have the same command he had in his last couple of starts, but he still hung around and kept us in the game. It was a tough game, but I didn't think he did a bad job out there," catcher Russell Martin said.
Ramirez homered and doubled, driving in three of the four Dodgers runs.
"They pitched better than we did, it was probably as simple as that," Dodgers manger Joe Torre said. "We were ready to play, we just didn't pitch well.
Billingsley's relief work left much to be desired. He gave up a homer into the Mannywood section in the eighth and an RBI single in the ninth.
"I'm just going out there trying to figure something out, that's all," he said. "I'm focusing on every pitch. It's definitely a learning experience."
The Giants are obviously in a "must-win" mode but the Dodgers still hold a solid lead and the magic number to clinch a postseason berth is eight, meaning any combination of Dodgers wins and Giants losses totaling eight will give Los Angeles its third playoff berth in four seasons.
They face a daunting task to avoid a sweep, facing Brad Penny, who handled them with ease in San Francisco and the Giants' ace, Tim Lincecum, in the Sunday finale.
Jon Garland takes the mound for the Dodgers today Saturday in a FOX game of the week with Chris Rose and Eric Karros calling the game. Two of Garland's three starts have come the day after the Dodgers lost.
Garland is 2-0 in those games, allowing a combined four runs on 11 hits in 13 innings. The game means a two-game swing if the Dodgers win, lowering their magic number to six.
Since the division winner will not face the wild card winner if they are from the N.L. West, it makes little difference, other than bragging rights, if the Dodgers win the division or just make it as a wild card.
Penny (10-8, 5.04 ERA) is the second Giants pitcher in 47 years to win his first three games with the club. He allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings as the Giants triumphed, 7-2 in his previous start against Los Angeles.
Score by Innings San Francisco 103 002 011-8 Los Angeles 100 210 000-4 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Furcal ss 3 1 1 1 .255 Martin c 5 0 0 0 .256 Ethier f 3 2 1 0 .283 Ramirez lf 4 1 2 3 .304 Kemp cf 3 0 2 0 .307 Blake 3b 3 0 1 0 .281 Loney 1b 4 0 0 0 .279 Hudson 2b 3 0 1 0 .288 Thome ph 1 0 0 0 .247 Castro 2b 0 0 0 0 .284 Padilla p 1 0 0 0 .182 Loretta ph 1 0 0 0 .222 Troncoso p 0 0 0 0 .000 Belisario p 0 0 0 0 .000 Belliard ph 1 0 0 0 .260 Billingsley p 0 0 0 0 .192 Mota p 0 0 0 0 .333 Pierre ph 1 0 0 0 .313 --------------------------------- Totals 33 4 8 4 San Francisco 41 8 15 8 Errors- Hudson (8), Ethier (5). 2B- Ramirez (22), HR- Ramirez (19), Furcal (8). RBI- Ramirez 3 (50, Furcal (40). LOB- Los Angeles 7. San Francisco 9. SB- Kemp (34). DP- Blake, Hudson and Loney 2. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Padilla 5.0 8 4-4 1 3 4.52 Troncoso (4-4) 0.2 3 2-2 0 1 2.75 Belisario 1.1 0 0-0 0 0 1.92 Billingsley 1.2 4 2-2 2 0 4.05 Mota 0.1 0 0-0 0 0 3.32 HBP- Ethier. T- 3:38. Att- 53,679.Dodger Blue Notes-- Billingsley, who made his 29th career relief appearance and first since Sept. 27, 2008, is set to start Wednesday on the road at Washington. ...Ramirez went 2-for-4 on Friday with a homer and three RBIs and now has hit safely in 18 of his past 20 games, batting .309 (21-for-68) with six homers and 14 RBIs. ...Matt Kemp has hit safely in 10 consecutive games, batting .310 (13-for-42) with three doubles, a homer, and six RBI in that span. Kemp also stole his 34th base, which ranks third in the NL and is one shy of his career high of 35 set in 2008. ...Kershaw threw a simulated game and Torre said, "He looked good, we'll see how he feels Saturday. He had good command and it looked pretty comfortable for him." Kershaw will work one inning out of the bullpen early next week in Washington. ...The Dodgers lead Philadelphia (86-60) by one game for the National League's best record and lead Colorado by five games in the NL West. With a 42-23 (.646) mark, the Dodgers also have the best intra-divisional record of any National League team and are on pace to have the second-best record in club history against the NL West, trailing the 1974 Dodgers' 63-27 (.700) mark. Los Angeles' intra-divisional trails only Boston's 43-21 (.671) for the best in baseball.