Dodger Bats Again Silent in Loss to Padres

Manager Joe Torre searched for the right thing to say after the Dodgers most recent failure to nail down the National League West Division title. "What's worthwhile is worth the wait," he finally said after the Padres handed them a 3-1 loss, the Dodgers fourth loss in their past five games since clinching the wild card spot on Saturday.

Colorado put Milwaukee away 7-5 in 11 innings and crept closer to a three-day showdown in Los Angeles the final week against the suddenly impotent Dodgers' offense.

The Dodgers lost twice in a row to the Pirates to finish the first part of their final road trip with a 3-4 record against Washington and Pittsburgh, the two worst teams in the National League. They meet San Diego again tonight before returning to Dodger Stadium for their last homestand.

"We had a couple of opportunities with a couple of men on base and came up short," Torre said. "The pitching was good. We didn't do anything offensively."

Chad Billingsley, who hasn't won since a 7-3 decision over St. Louis on August 18, lost for the fifth time in his last seven starts but had another exceptional game despite the loss.

After taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning at Washington before giving up a three-run homer, the only hit allowed. This night he gave up just two hits and two runs to the Padres over this six-inning start but dropped to 12-11.

He surrendered a home run to Tony Gwynn, Jr., with two out in the third inning, on a drive down the right field line just inside the foul pole at the shortest point in the stadium.

He walked the bases loaded in the sixth inning and with two outs, allowed his second hit, a single by Kevin Kouzmanoff that broke a 1-1 tie. Adrian Gonzalez was thrown out at the plate by Matt Kemp, his 14th assist of the season and the top mark in the National League.

"I threw the ball well today," Billingsley said. "I had good command throughout the game, just the one pitch to Gwynn where I missed my spot. Can't do anything about that." Billingsley has given up a home run in seven of his last eight starts, and it was the 17th he has allowed this season.

The Dodgers tied the game temporarily in the sixth inning when Orlando Hudson tripled for the second time in two games and scored when shortstop Everth Cabrera fumbled Andre Ethier's ground ball.

The Padres took rookie starter Cesar Ramos out of the game and replaced him with another rookie, Ryan Webb, who forced Manny Ramirez to hit into a double play.

The Dodgers were hitless after Hudson's triple with only a walk to pinch-hitter Jim Tome marring the final three innings. Ramirez, Matt Kemp and James Loney struck out in order in the ninth.

Rafael Furcal, who extended his hitting streak to 12 games, singled in the first inning but was erased by a double play ball off the bat of Andre Ethier. Furcal singled again in the third and stole second but was left there. Kemp singled in the fourth but was erased when Loney hit into a double play.

Hong-Chih Kuo gave up a walk, a hit batsman and then threw a wild pitch to account for the Padres' final run in the seventh inning.

Both teams manage only four hits. Between the two club, Kouzmanoff's single was the only hit with a runner in scoring position; the Dodgers were 0-for-6 and San Diego 1-for-4.

Manny Ramirez, who sat out a game with a tight hamstring went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. His average has slipped from .346 when he was suspended to .295. Ethier, despite knocking in the Dodgers run with a ground ball, also went 0-for-4 and is 1-for-27 on the trip, his average falling from .283 to .272.

Scott Elbert took over in the eighth after Kuo had allowed the final Padres run and continued to pitch well. Ron Belisario got the final out in the eighth inning.

"He's auditioning," Torre said of Elbert, who has been used often during the final weeks of the season. He may have earned a spot on the playoff roster with his work.

Elbert struggled with command in April and July callups, but after stints with both Chattanooga and Albuquerque, finished his minor league season with 125 strikeouts in 96 innings and an 11.84 strikeouts per nine innings record, tops in the L.A. organization.

He has allowed only an infield single in his last six appearances with the Dodgers.

Tonight Jon Garland will make his sixth start since being acquired from Arizona, and he's 2-2 with a 2.86 ERA lifetime against San Diego.

The Dodgers will face yet another left-hander, Clayton Richard (8-5, 4.62 ERA), who came to San Diego from the White Sox. Over the past seven games it seemingly doesn't matter much who takes the mound against Los Angeles, they all seem to resemble Cy Young.

 Score by innings
Los Angeles	000 001 000-1
San Diego	001 001 10x-3

 Los Angeles	ab r  h  bi  ave
Furcal ss	4  0  2  0  .269
Hudson 2b	2  1  1  0  .287
Ethier rf	4  0  0  1  .272
Ramirez lf	4  0  0  0  .295
Kemp cf	        4  0  1  0  .301
Loney 1b	4  0  0  0  .285
Martin c	2  0  0  0  .252
Castro 3b	2  0  0  0  .284
 DeWitt ph	0  0  0  0  .191
Billingsley p	2  0  0  0  .179
 Tome ph	1  0  0  0  .248
 Kuo p	        0  0  0  0  .000
 Elbert p	0  0  0  0  .200
 Belisario p	0  0  0  0  .000
----------------------------------
 Totals	        29 1 4 1
 San Diego	26 3 4 3

 Three-base hit- Hudson. RBI- Ethier (105).
LOB- Los Angeles 5, San Diego 6. SB- Furcal
(11).

 Los Angeles	      in  h r-er bb so  era
Billingsley (12-11)   6.0  2  2-2  5  5  4.03
Kuo	              1.0  1  1-1  1  0  3.10
Elbert	              0.2  1  0-0  0  1  4.91
Belisario	      0.1  0  0-0  0  1  2.09
WP- Kuo. T- 2:50. Att- 25,318.
My Town: Italy
The Dodgers named Tommy Lasorda as their manager about this time in 1976, replacing Walter Alston. Lasorda is celebrating his 60th season with the organization. On Friday night at Dodger Stadium, the first 50,000 fans in attendance will receive a replica Lasorda Hall of Fame plaque. Friday is also "My Town: Italy" with a special Italian menu and t-shirt for fans who sit in that section, which Lasorda is planning to visit.

Ohman has Operation
Reliever Will Ohman underwent surgery on his left shoulder. Ohman, signed as a free agent in the last week of Spring Training for $1.35 million and has an option for $2.2 million or a $200,000 buyout for 2010.

He pitched 12.1 innings over 21 games and had a 5.84 ERA with one save, eight walks and seven strikeouts before going on the disabled list May 28 with a sore shoulder, then strained his elbow rehabbing.

He had a clean-up procedure on the A/C joint and with the arrival of fellow left-hander George Sherrill he will probably be bought out and become a free agent.

Dodger Blue Notes-- James Loney is batting .370 (27-for-73) in his last 22 games, including four homers and 15 RBI. That gives him 90 RBI on the season to equal his career high, set last season. He also has tied his career high of 13 home runs, 12 of which have been hit on the road. ...Both Casey Blake and Ron Belliard sat out again with hamstring injuries. ...Despite the recent slide, the Dodgers have the best record in the National League with a 93-65 mark and have had at least a share of the league's best record for all but one day (Sept. 11) since entering play on May 3. ...The Dodgers have had 22 different pitchers earn at least one win, breaking the franchise's all-time single-season record established by last year's club (18). Of the 24 pitchers who have appeared for the Dodgers, only Travis Schlichting and Mark Loretta have yet to get in the win column. The pitchers not on the active roster who have earned at least one victory are Eric Stults (four), Brent Leach (two), Eric Milton (two), Jason Schmidt (two), Cory Wade (two), and Will Ohman (one). 

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