After a 4-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves Friday night, there should be little wonder why the Dodgers are pining for the three-day All-Star break.
Most of them desperately need the rest.
And four of them can't wait to play on the same team with Tom Glavine.
Glavine, the probable National League starting pitcher who is always an all-star against the Dodgers, struck out 10 and gave up eight hits while handing Los Angeles its second consecutive loss, before 49,199 at Dodger Stadium.
"It would be an honor for me to see Glavine start the game," Kal Daniels said. "He shut us down completely, which hasn't happened too many times in the last 30-40 games."
And Daniels had two hits, including a one-out double in the ninth inning that helped the Dodgers load the bases with two out and pinch-hitter Mitch Webster batting.
Atlanta Manager Bobby Cox came to the mound to give Glavine a pep talk.
Perhaps shortstop Rafael Belliard was listening, because he made a running, backhanded stop of Webster's grounder and threw to first to end the game, making Glavine the league's first 12-game winner.
"What a play," muttered Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda, who ignored the postgame fireworks show to sit alone in his office.
In beating Tim Belcher, the Braves won for the second time in their last seven games and defeated a right-handed starting pitcher for the fourth time in 12 games since left-handed hitters David Justice and Sid Bream were put on the disabled list.
The third-place Braves also pulled within 7 1/2 games of first place.
Besides that, Lasorda was worried about the Cincinnati Reds, who won for the ninth time in 11 games Friday, moving within three games of the Dodgers.
Belcher, who allowed a two-run home run on a 2-and-0 pitch to Jeff Blauser in the sixth inning to break a 1-1 tie, also ignored the fireworks.
The Dodger starter chose instead to leave reporters a handwritten message that closed with, "Sorry I couldn't stay . . . I only watch fireworks on the 4th of July."
Among other tidbits in the note were:
"I hung about every slider I threw."
"We need to win two of three of this series before the break."
Belcher, who lost for the first time since May 12 with four victories and five no decisions since then, didn't need an entire note to explain Friday's loss. He could have done it in one word. \o7 Glavine.\f7
"I have the numbers to start the All-Star game, and I think I should," said Glavine, 12-4 with a league-leading 1.98 earned-run average.
He lowered his season ERA against the Dodgers to 0.34, with two victories in three starts.
Glavine, 25, is especially adept at spoiling a veteran's party, which he proved by stopping the Dodgers' threat in the seventh.
With one out, Gary Carter, who earlier tied a career high by extended his hitting streak to a 13 games, achieved a much greater milestone. With a single up the middle, he collected his 2,000 major league hit in his 7,549th career at-bat.
After all the cheering and waving for Carter's achievement, Mike Sharperson singled to center, moving him to second. Then Glavine put away the Dodgers, striking out Alfredo Griffin and pinch-hitter Stan Javier to end the threat.
The Dodgers' only other bright spot on offense was Brett Butler's first-inning single, extending his hitting streak to 19 games, tying a career high set in 1987 and tying San Francisco's Willie McGee for the longest streak in baseball this season.
"Tonight was a great honor, a great thrill, especially to do it front of my family and friends," said Carter, who ended his night hugging his brother Gordon outside the Dodgers' clubhouse. "But it wasn't as gratifying as if we won. It looks like Glavine is having one of those kinds of years."
And it is increasingly apparent that the Dodgers, perhaps weary from the strain of holding on to first place for the last 51 days, are in a slump.
--Eddie Murray has only four hits in his last 48 at-bats and took extra batting practice Friday.
--Juan Samuel has only five hits in his last 23 at-bats.
--Lenny Harris, on the bench against left-hander Glavine Friday, has two hits in his last 30 at-bats.
--Opponents have stolen six consecutive bases against Carter.