Maybe it would be too harsh to say that the Dodgers have stumbled into the all-star break.
It is a fact, though, that after Sunday's sobering 9-2 interleague loss to the Seattle Mariners in front of 40,511 at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers dropped three of their final four pre-break games. And in dropping two of three to Seattle, the Dodgers were outscored by a cumulative 23-4.
All of this after a season-high nine-game win streak.
"It's unfortunate that we couldn't win the ballgame today but I really look at . . . the big picture," Manager Jim Tracy said. "We've played 88 games and we're in a position now where we're going to take a three-day break and show up Thursday and begin our plight to try to win the [National League] western division. That's going to be our goal."
Seattle starter Aaron Sele's goal, however, was to keep his team from losing a road series for the first time this season.
Sele (10-1) stymied the Dodgers for eight innings, giving up two runs and five hits. Kazuhiro Sasaki threw a scoreless ninth inning to close it out.
"We got two quality wins here and the Dodgers have been playing well," Sele said. "I just wanted to follow Freddy [Garcia] and Paul [Abbott]'s lead and pitch a good game."
Garcia shut out the Dodgers on Friday night and Abbott gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings but did not earn a decision in Saturday's loss to the Dodgers.
"We just tried to make quality pitches and let the defense do the work," Sele said. "It makes it easy to pitch when those guys are playing behind you."
Said Tracy: "There's a reason [Sele] is 10-1."
"He's a good pitcher," said Dodger right fielder Shawn Green, who was 0 for 3 with a walk and a run scored.
"He knows what he's doing, he mixes it up and then when they had the big inning, it kind of took the wind out of our sails."
Dodger starter Jeff Williams was decent through six innings, the left-hander giving up three runs and five hits.
But the Mariners (63-24) scored six runs in the seventh inning to chase Williams, making his first start since Sept. 30, 1999, before dinging around reliever Mike Fetters.
Williams gave up a leadoff home run to Dan Wilson in the seventh and then a questionable infield single to Sele--first baseman Eric Karros couldn't handle second baseman Mark Grudzielanek's one-hop throw. An Ichiro Suzuki double down the right-field line ensued and Williams was yanked.
Fetters struggled for the second straight appearance since coming off the disabled list Thursday, giving up three runs and five hits in an inning.
"I did the best I could," Fetters said, "but it wasn't good enough. I thought I made some decent pitches but they beat me."
The Mariners jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning when Ed Sprague doubled off the left-center field wall and, one batter later, David Bell bounced a ground-rule double into the right-field seats, scoring Sprague.
Bell advanced to third on a grounder by Wilson and came home on Sele's perfectly executed squeeze bunt. It was Sele's first career run batted in.
The Dodgers scored once in their half of the second.
After Green walked to lead off, he went to third on Karros' check-swing flare single to right.
Paul Lo Duca, a day after taking a 92-mph fastball off his helmet and left cheek, drove Green home with a sacrifice fly to center. It was Lo Duca's 45th RBI.
The Dodgers' other run came in the seventh when Jeff Reboulet's double down the right-field line scored Karros, who had singled.
Even with the loss, the Dodgers (48-40) remained 3 1/2 games behind the front-running Arizona Diamondbacks, who lost their fourth consecutive game Sunday.
So, the Dodgers felt no shame in dropping two to the Mariners, who have the best record in baseball.
"They're just hot right now," said Reboulet, who was two for three. "Everything they do is right."