In the ongoing struggle to overcome the absence of the injured Eric Davis, Darryl Strawberry and Juan Samuel, Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda started a patchwork lineup against the Cincinnati Reds Saturday night that had produced only 15 home runs, six fewer than Oakland's Mark McGwire.
The latest alignment got 10 hits, including a solo homer by Eric Karros and a two-run single by Kal Daniels that capped a comeback from a 3-0 deficit and produced a 4-4 tie during the seventh inning.
But in the end, the undermanned Dodgers couldn't keep pace and lost to the Reds, 5-4, before 45,813 at Dodger Stadium.
It was the Reds' 10th victory in 12 games, and now the Dodgers are having trouble keeping pace in the standings as well as on the scoreboard.
Their third loss in four games left them 5 1/2 games behind the Reds in the National League West. Samuel might be back Friday, but the return of Davis and Strawberry remains uncertain.
A single by Glenn Braggs and double by Freddie Benavides produced the decisive run at the expense of Steve Wilson during the eighth inning of Saturday night's game.
Dodger starter Bob Ojeda gave up eight hits and four runs before leaving in the seventh, half of the eight hits by Reggie Sanders, who homered, doubled and singled twice.
Chris Hammond worked into the seventh as the Cincinnati starter, but the Reds required four relief pitchers, including aces Rob Dibble and Norm Charlton.
Dibble retired five consecutive batters before a two-out single by Mike Sharperson in the ninth led to a managerial chess match during which the left-handed Charlton eventually struck out the right-handed-swinging Stan Javier for his 13th save.
Wilson drew his fourth loss in five decisions.
He had retired three in a row in relief of Ojeda when Braggs singled with one out during the eighth and Benavides drove a two-out double barely inside the right field line.
Catcher Mike Scioscia, taking the relay from Sharperson, argued that he successfully blocked the plate, but umpire Bob Davidson ruled that Braggs got a piece of it in a jarring collision with the human roadblock.
Lasorda later held up a series of pictures of the play and said: "There he is tagging him (Braggs) out, and he's still not near the plate."
Said Scioscia: "If I didn't think I had him, I wouldn't have argued."
Is there any other way to stop the streaking Reds?
"We're playing good baseball, but it's tough to spot a team of the Reds' caliber three runs and keep coming back," Scioscia said.
It was the second consecutive game in which the Reds scored three during the first inning.
Ojeda yielded a single to Sanders and doubles to Billy Hatcher and Barry Larkin before getting the first out.
The Reds should have scored only twice during the inning, but starting catcher Carlos Hernandez couldn't hold the ball when hit by Larkin, coming home on a squeeze play.
The Dodgers scored during the second on an RBI single by Jose Offerman, made the score 3-2 during the sixth when Karros slugged his seventh home run and tied it at 4-4 in the seventh on the two strike, two run single by Daniels.
They had runners at second and third with one out in that inning, but Scott Bankhead retired Karros on a sharp grounder that tested Bankhead's reflexes and then struck out Todd Benzinger.
The Reds bullpen leads the National League with 21 saves, but it is the Reds lead in the more important standings that troubles the still injury-plagued Dodgers.
The Dodgers are now 4-14 in one run games.