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Wobbling Dodgers hit by cycle

They lose seventh in a row, 11-2, as Kershaw gives up five runs in the first and lasts only 2 1/3 innings. Guzman does the trick for Washington.

August 29, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- What is the opposite of momentum? No-mentum?

Whatever it is, the Dodgers have it, at the worst possible time.

They have not gained ground on the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks in 11 days. They lost all seven games of an East Coast swing, capped Thursday with an 11-2 rout by the Washington Nationals.

Rookie Clayton Kershaw got rocked in the first inning, yanked in the third and sent to the minor leagues after the game, albeit temporarily. Cristian Guzman, the Washington shortstop, hit for the cycle, giving him four hits on a night the Dodgers got five.

The Dodgers scored their two runs in the first inning, on a home run by Manny Ramirez. They went quietly thereafter, with two men advancing past first base in the last eight innings, one on a wild pitch.

This was not exactly what the Dodgers had in mind when they envisioned rolling into Phoenix today for a three-game series against the Diamondbacks.

"We can only -- hopefully -- get better," first baseman James Loney said.

The Dodgers are closer to third place than to first in the National League West, trailing the Diamondbacks by 3 1/2 games and leading the Colorado Rockies by 2 1/2 . The Dodgers lost all seven East Coast games -- sweeps by the Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies -- by a combined score of 45-12.

Manager Joe Torre called Guzman's cycle "the crowning blow" in the game, and to the wicked week.

The Dodgers hit .098 (six for 61) with men in scoring position in the seven games. They have lost nine consecutive road games, their longest such skid since 1992, with three critical road games on tap this weekend.

Over the next 10 days, the Dodgers will play Arizona six times. Brandon Webb and Dan Haren are scheduled to start four of those six games.

None of this, apparently, will prompt Torre to hold another team meeting.

This is what he said before the game: "I think they've heard my voice too much."

This is what he said after the game: "I can talk all I want. We have to do all the talking on the field."

Kershaw, the Dodgers' pitching prodigy, appeared to Torre to be quite the nervous 20-year-old Thursday.

"We sent him out there with a six-game losing streak," Torre said. "It's a tough task to go out there and just try to blow people away."

After Ramirez gave Kershaw that 2-0 lead, Kershaw gave it right back, and more.

The Nationals scored five runs before Kershaw got his first two outs, with Guzman and Elijah Dukes hitting home runs.

"Everything went wrong," Kershaw said. "That's pretty much about as bad as it can get."

He lasted 2 1/3 innings -- the shortest start of his brief career --giving up five runs, five hits and three walks. His road earned-run average is 6.69, with 24 walks in 34 innings.

After the game, the Dodgers sent Kershaw to triple-A Las Vegas and recalled left-hander Scott Elbert from double-A Jacksonville to fortify a bullpen that pitched 8 1/3 innings over the last two days.

The move was planned before the game. Kershaw will not pitch at Las Vegas; the Dodgers plan to recall him Tuesday, for his next scheduled start. By that time, the September roster expansion will be in effect and the Las Vegas season will be over.

The Dodgers hope theirs will not be.

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bill.shaikin@latimes.com

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CRUCIAL TIME

A look at the Dodgers' next three series. They play Arizona six games in 10 days:

Today-Sunday at Arizona

Monday-Wed. vs. San Diego

Sept. 5-Sept. 7 vs. Arizona

Note-For the remainder of the season, the Dodgers play outside the division once: a mid-week series vs. Pittsburgh (Sept. 15-18).

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