CHICAGO — The Dodgers are playing so poorly right now that this is sadly unsurprising: The Chicago White Sox spotted them 26 outs Saturday and still won.
The Dodgers' meager offense produced just enough to give closer Yhency Brazoban a two-run cushion in the ninth inning. But nothing has worked out for the Dodgers since they left home, and this would be no exception.
With two out in the ninth at U.S. Cellular Field, Brazoban gave up a game-tying single to Aaron Rowand and a game-winning home run to A.J. Pierzynski. The Dodgers lost, 5-3, dropping them to 0-5 on this trip and one game below .500 for the season.
"It looks bad for Brazo, but he was just part of the problem," catcher Jason Phillips said. "He was not the only problem."
The Dodgers left the bases loaded twice. Their hit-and-run plays failed miserably. Chicago starter Freddy Garcia walked four and made 40 pitches in the first inning -- in all, he walked six and threw three wild pitches -- and did not lose.
"It's all the little things," Phillips said.
But Jeff Kent hit a two-run home run in the first inning and doubled and scored in the eighth. That should have sufficed, because starter Elmer Dessens scattered two hits and one unearned run over six innings in his first appearance since April 19 and Duaner Sanchez dominated the seventh and eighth.
So the Dodgers handed a 3-1 lead to Brazoban, who had converted 11 of 12 save opportunities when Eric Gagne first went on the disabled list. Gagne is injured again, Brazoban is closing again, and here's one lesson: It doesn't matter how hard you throw if you put the ball in the wrong place. Here's another: Until you show opponents why they shouldn't run on you, they will.
And another: Don't walk the leadoff man. Brazoban did, losing Tadahito Iguchi on a full count. But Frank Thomas grounded out, with Iguchi taking second, and Paul Konerko flied out. Carl Everett looked at strike one, swung at strike two, and victory required just one more strike.
Everett singled, scoring Iguchi. Willie Harris, representing the tying run, ran for Everett and stole second on the first pitch. Phillips did not throw; he had no play because Brazoban's release time is so slow.
"Does that tell you something? They're aware of it," Manager Jim Tracy said.
Rowand looked at two strikes, then took three balls, then hit a foul ball, then volleyed a 98-mph fastball into center field, with Brazoban throwing a fastball too low to a hitter whose scouting report warns against throwing him a low fastball.
"My fault," Phillips said. "I didn't want to get beat with his second-best pitch. I should have called a slider."
Pierzynski then completed a masterful at-bat, with a foul ball, three balls and four more foul balls preceding a 414-foot home run. As the White Sox scrambled to home plate to mob Pierzynski, Brazoban shuffled off the field, holding his glove in his pitching hand.
"Hopefully, we can get him back out there [tonight]," Phillips said, "and he'll prove he's the guy."