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Dodgers Blow 5-0 Lead, Lose to Reds, 8-5


A sunny Sunday and a 5-0 lead disappeared under hazy skies after the Cincinnati Reds scored four runs in the fifth and sixth innings to beat the Dodgers, 8-5, before 45,679 at Dodger Stadium.

The loss left some wondering if a few Dodgers have lost their bark during the so-called dog days of August.

After taking a five-run lead through four, the Dodgers toppled as failed starting pitching gave way to failed starting defense.

Dodger starter Kevin Gross was pulled in the fifth without getting an out. He departed with bases loaded, three runs having already scored.

It could have been worse. Omar Daal relieved him and gave up only one run.

But there was no escaping the sixth inning, when the Reds scored four unearned runs against Roger McDowell after two were out.

It was a nightmare not many wished to recount later.

The inning opened with two harmless groundouts to second. Then, McDowell walked infielder Willie Greene, who took third on Brian Dorsett's single, Dorsett taking second on the throw.

The Dodgers then walked pinch-hitter Kevin Mitchell intentionally, loading the bases for lead-off man Greg Tubbs, who grounded a ball off Cory Snyder's glove at third for a two-run error.

"They hit it and we missed it," said McDowell, who took the loss and fell to 4-1. "But the fact of the matter is I had two out and walked Willie Greene."

Jeff Branson followed with a single up the middle to score two more runs.

In the seven innings that sandwiched the fifth and sixth, the Dodgers played baseball by the book. But two lapses left them groping.

Jody Reed, the Dodger second baseman, spoke of breakdowns in concentration. He has seen the telltale signs. The Dodgers are out of divisional contention. No race for third place is going to replace that.

"Let's face it," he said. "It's almost the dog days part of the season. We've been here a while now, we might be getting tired. Our concentration is swaying a bit. It's like we're waiting for our second wind to kick in. We're hoping that second wind will jump on us."

If not wind, then perhaps Manager Tom Lasorda.

"We should have won the last two ballgames and they know it," said Lasorda, referring to Saturday night's game, lost because of shortstop Jose Offerman's fielding blunders. "I'm disappointed."

Sunday started out well. Gross had a run-scoring single in the second and the Dodgers chased starter Larry Luebbers with a four-run third inning, capped by Eric Karros' three-run home run to left, his 14th.

But Gross lost control in the fifth, walking three and giving up three hits before leaving. The hit that hurt Gross most was a bases-loaded single to left by Dorsett to score two runs. After another walk, Tubbs drove in another run with a single to center, and that was all for Gross.

Johnny Ruffin, recalled from the Reds' triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis, pitched the right inning at the right time--a scoreless fifth--to earn his first major league victory.

Scott Service followed with three hitless innings to get his team into ninth-inning save position for closer Rod Dibble, who blew a chance for his 17th save Friday night when he gave up a ninth-inning home run to Karros.

Because of his own wildness, Dibble set the stage for a Sunday rematch with Karros. With one out, Dibble walked Brett Butler and Offerman on eight pitches to bring the potential tying run to the plate.

After Eric Davis popped out to the catcher, Dibble stared in once again at Karros. But Dibble stole the drama this time, striking Karros out on three pitches to end the game.

Afterward, the Dodgers could not even agree on what was wrong with them.

McDowell dismissed notions that the team might be tired.

"I don't think so," he said. "The dog days are in the winter. We've got a season to play. There's a lot of personal pride, whether we're in the divisional race, or 20 games out. We've got a job to do."

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