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Dodgers end trip at a loss

Santana proves too tough to handle and leads Mets to a 6-1 win over struggling L.A.

June 02, 2008|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Though the Dodgers managed only a single win in their seven-game trip that concluded with a 6-1 defeat to the New York Mets at Shea Stadium, though they've won only twice in their last 10 games, and though they're two games under .500, they somehow sit only 4 1/2 games back of first-place Arizona in the National League West.

But Manager Joe Torre took no comfort in the forgiving standings as he and his team left his hometown on Sunday night.

"We can't worry about other teams," Torre said. "We're still within arm's reach of Arizona, but our goal is to get our record where it should be and right now being under .500 isn't where we want to be or should be."

Pitching kept the Dodgers competitive in most of the games they played on this trip, but even that failed them on Sunday, as Hiroki Kuroda was lighted up for six runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings in his worst start of the season.

Kuroda gave up five two-out runs in a third inning that included two-run home runs by Carlos Beltran and Ryan Church, and put the Dodgers behind, 6-1.

That provided Mets starter Johan Santana (7-3) with the necessary cushion to do as he pleased on a night when he held the Dodgers to one run and six hits over 7 2/3 innings to earn his 100th victory.

The game marked the seventh time in the last 10 games that the Dodgers scored two or fewer runs, a span in which they've scored a total of 24 runs.

"He knows how to pitch," Torre said of Santana. "He knows how to pitch, period, but with a lead like that, he's not going to get himself in trouble."

Kuroda (2-5), who began the game as the only pitcher in baseball with 10 starts and an earned-run average under 3.50 without three or more wins, castigated himself. His matchup with the most expensive pitcher in the history of baseball was eagerly awaited by the Japanese media, but Kuroda was dismissive of such talk, citing the lack of his own credentials.

"I lost to this team already, and I don't have the luxury to be looking forward to a pitching duel," Kuroda said. "I'm a pitcher who's won only two games."

Kuroda's start Sunday was his shortest of the season, and his second-shortest was when he lasted 3 1/3 innings May 6 at Dodger Stadium, also against the Mets.

Kuroda said the Mets' lineup, which was heavily stacked with left-handed or switch hitters -- Manager Willie Randolph started eight such players, including Santana -- made it difficult for him to get outs on a day when he couldn't locate his breaking ball.

The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, when Juan Pierre doubled to start the game and scored on a single to left-center field by Matt Kemp, but Kuroda gave the run right back by letting David Wright drive in Jose Reyes with a single to right field.

Torre lamented the quickly lost lead, as well as the pair of games on the trip that were blown by the back end of the bullpen.

"We can't get these games back anymore," Torre said. "We put ourselves in position to win ballgames, but we couldn't close the deal."

But at least the trip was over.

Today, the Dodgers will open a three-game series at Dodger Stadium against the Colorado Rockies, the 11th day of a 17-day stretch without a day off.

"We're not going home happy, but at least we're going home," catcher Russell Martin said. "Hopefully, we can play some better baseball."

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dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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