So much for the Dodgers making a strong statement in the first round of interleague play.
They were 4-5 against the struggling Angels and Texas Rangers, teams a combined 20 games under .500.
Now the stakes are higher for the Dodgers, who face National League West opponents in their next 16 games, beginning tonight in the opener of a two-game series against the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers trail the Diamondbacks by five games and are tied for second with the hot San Francisco Giants, but they're moving in the opposite direction, having dropped seven of 11.
A double-digit deficit--and another wasted season--could be coming.
The Dodgers said the heat is on, and it's time for them to respond.
"That's what the season is all about, facing challenges and getting the job done," right fielder Shawn Green said recently. "The whole season is important, you can't take anything for granted and we're not, but you also know what these [division] games mean.
"That's one thing that we talked a lot about in spring training. With the new [unbalanced] schedule, you have to take care of business in the division."
The Dodgers are only 14-14 against the West--.500 against each team.
With Curt Schilling dominant in three victories, Arizona split its first 10 games with the Dodgers.
Schilling won't pitch in the short series, but left-hander Randy Johnson faces Darren Dreifort tonight.
In 59 career innings, the three-time Cy Young Award winner has limited the Dodgers to a .222 batting average with 84 strikeouts.
"We didn't expect it to be easy," outfielder Marquis Grissom said. "It's never easy when you're trying to win a championship, that's why it's so sweet when you do win.
"We just have to keep playing, man. As long as we just keep doing the things that we've been doing, we can get through this [the important upcoming games] and everything else."
The Dodgers have overcome many injuries, including losing starting pitcher Andy Ashby because of season-ending elbow surgery.
Starter Kevin Brown is out indefinitely because of an irritated nerve in his neck, and first baseman Eric Karros and left fielder Gary Sheffield also had long stints on the disabled list.
But that doesn't matter, Sheffield said.
"They've had injuries too," Sheffield said of the Diamondbacks, who have played without closer Matt Mantei and third baseman Matt Williams for most of the season.
"Injuries are just part of this game. We've had guys who have stepped up. We have the type of team where guys want to be in that role, so we know it's not about only one player.
"But we have to take advantage of every opportunity. We can't waste chances because then it just becomes tougher to try to make it up down the road."
Manager Jim Tracy said the Dodgers must play well in their key stretch against the West.
"Within a 162-game season, there's always little segments of the season in between the whole picture," said Tracy, whom players have praised for holding the club together.
"You're in a position now where a lot of clubs are posturing themselves, readying themselves for the post-All-Star break, where you look at the standings."
The Dodgers are doing that.
"No question, we're getting to a point where we've got to get going," said second baseman Mark Grudzielanek, on the disabled list because of a sprained left ankle.
"We've been able to keep our heads above water through all the stuff that's happened, Trace has done a really good job keeping it all together, but we're coming close to the All-Star break.
"It's the time where you try to make a move to get in position for the second half, and that's what we have to do. It's just time."
Time to make a statement.
Staff writer Paul Gutierrez contributed to this story.