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Dodgers can't find way home

Despite the Nationals' best efforts to hand them the game, they refuse to take it and suffer their fifth consecutive setback on the road, 2-1.

August 27, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- The Dodgers ought to gather a bunch of bats together this afternoon, then light them afire, as a sacrifice to the baseball gods.

Their season might depend on it. The baseball gods are mocking the Dodgers, never more painfully than Tuesday.

The Dodgers played the Washington Nationals, the team with the worst record in the major leagues. The Nationals' pitcher lobbed a ball over the head of his first baseman in one inning, then loaded the bases in another by hitting two batters and walking the Dodgers' pitcher. The Nationals' third baseman threw to the wrong base, enabling the Dodgers to load the bases in another inning.

The rout was on -- well, it would have been on had the Dodgers gotten a clutch hit or two. But their runners in scoring position just don't score these days, and so the Dodgers lost their fifth consecutive game, this one by a 2-1 count.

"You have to sort of smile," Manager Joe Torre said, "even though it's frustrating as hell."

Derek Lowe pitched his first complete game of the season, a six-hitter in which he retired 14 of 15 batters at one point. He gave up two runs, though, so he lost.

"In games like that, you have to keep them to one or less," Lowe said. "I didn't do that. Even though you went deep in the game, you look at it as a disappointing start."

That's because the Dodgers have suddenly turned their 50th anniversary L.A. celebration into a daily homage to the old hitless wonders, without arming themselves with Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale.

The Dodgers scored three or fewer runs for the seventh consecutive game. They went one for 12 with runners in scoring position, and the hit -- a single by James Loney -- did not drive in Manny Ramirez from second. In the past three games, they have scored three runs while going four for 39 (.103) with runners in scoring position.

They're two games under .500 overall (65-67) and since the trade for Ramirez (11-13). If they lose tonight, they'll lose six consecutive games for the first time this season.

And, for something new and different, they hit into four double plays, all started by Washington third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

In the second inning, the Dodgers had men on first and second with one out, and Nomar Garciaparra grounded into a double play. In the third inning, after Washington starter Collin Ballester threw Lowe's comebacker into right field, Matt Kemp grounded into a double play.

In the fifth inning, Ballester hit Garciaparra and Casey Blake, then walked Lowe, loading the bases with none out. Kemp grounded into a force play, scoring Garciaparra. Andre Ethier flied out, and Jeff Kent grounded out. One run -- the Dodgers' only run -- on no hits, one walk and two hit batsmen.

In the sixth, the Dodgers again had the bases loaded with none out, thanks in part to Zimmerman fielding a ground ball and throwing to the wrong base. Garciaparra hit a screaming line drive -- right into the glove of Zimmerman, who stepped on third for another double play.

No runs, no luck, no victory.

"We've just been extremely unlucky right now. It's kind of crazy," Garciaparra said. "It happens. That's baseball. . . .

"You'll have a day where everyone has a horrible at-bat and 10 bloopers fall in and you score 10 runs."

That would be nice.

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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