PHILADELPHIA — Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda watched the sun come up from his hotel room Friday morning, and there is a good chance he will be awake at sunrise again this morning.
His team is off to a worse start than last season's and Friday night lost its fourth consecutive game, by 2-0 to the Philadelphia Phillies before 21,702 at Veterans Stadium.
The Dodgers are 6-11. Last season they started 8-9.
This time, though, the blame rests on the offense, not the defense. The Dodgers are batting .181 on the road and .219 overall, second to last in the league.
They have managed only 17 hits in their last four games. And after the seventh inning, forget it. This season they have scored a total of seven runs after the seventh inning.
"It's getting to be a broken record," Lasorda said.
Friday night, the Dodgers got five hits against Curt Schilling (3-1), who struck out nine on his way to a complete game.
Ramon Martinez (2-2) only gave up five hits, too, and could have had his first complete game since May of last season, but gave way to a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning.
"I stay up all night and try and think about what you can do to change this, I roll it over in my mind over and over," Lasorda said. "But it all comes back to the same thing. They have got to hit the ball. \o7 They \f7 have to do it."
Darryl Strawberry's swing looks awkward, and he said after Friday's game that his back had stiffened from the cold weather.
"People don't really realize that I'll have to suffer through this until my back gets strong again, and it will get strong, " Strawberry said. "This is my first time in cold weather after the surgery and I have to get used to it."
Eric Davis, who broke out of his slump when the Dodgers swept the Pittsburgh Pirates before this trip, said he fell back into some bad habits during the series in Montreal, where the Expos swept the Dodgers.
"I know what to do, and I have to work on it mentally," Davis said. "I'll be concerned about this until we do something about it. But I don't doubt myself. When I begin to doubt myself, it's time for me to retire."
This is the fifth game the Dodgers have lost by two runs, causing the pitchers to bear down a little harder. "Maybe that will change, yes, we are going to change," said Martinez (2-2).
It wasn't a joyous homecoming for Mike Piazza, who grew up in nearby Norristown.
"Mike gets up with nobody on base and gets a hit, then with two-men on he doesn't get the hit," Lasorda said. "We have got to start capitalizing on our opportunities."
And when Piazza batted during the sixth inning, the giant video screen in center field displayed his picture with these words next to his name: "The godson of Dodger manager Tom Lasorda."
Piazza, who is weary with the novelty others seem to find in his relationship with Lasorda, wasn't happy when he saw it. But it got worse. When Piazza struck out swinging with two out and Brett Butler and Davis staring at him from first and second base, the stadium organist played the theme from the "Godfather" as he made the long trip back to the dugout.
"I mean, you think if I was going to get any support, it would be from here," said Piazza, who is one for 10 on this trip and seen his batting average fall to .259.
"It's an issue that has been beaten every possible way. So, OK, we know about it, now ease up already. Don't make it a sideshow act."
Left-handed reliever Omar Daal, whom the Dodgers called up from triple-A Albuquerque Thursday night, threw a strike for his first major league pitch and went on to strike out the side in order in the ninth inning. He said his countrymen in Venezuela would see his performance on television and be happy.
The fans watching the game from Los Angeles probably weren't.
"It's not a matter of if the public doubts us . . . we can't doubt ourselves," Davis said.