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After loss, it only gets tougher for Dodgers

June 12, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- One step forward, one step backward, Jake Peavy today.

This is the Dodgers' trip to San Diego, another three days on what appears to be a dreary summer treadmill.

A few runs one day, one run another day, no runs the next day, never enough runs to launch a winning streak. After Wednesday's 4-1 loss to the San Diego Padres, they're facing the defending Cy Young Award winner today. Without a victory, they'll fail to win their sixth consecutive series.

This binary offensive output is not sufficient for the Dodgers to compete, not without Koufax and Drysdale. The Dodgers have scored zero runs or one run in 10 of their last 19 games.

"This is a good team, man," outfielder Matt Kemp said. "We're not playing to our potential. We've just got to start scoring runs. One run is not going to win games."

The Dodgers tease, courtesy of the woeful division in which they play. They have not been above .500 this month, but with a victory Wednesday they could have crept to within 2 1/2 games of first place in the National League West.

But they lost, and now they're closer to fourth place than first. They're 31-34, and even the Pittsburgh Pirates have a better record. And today they draw Peavy, perhaps the most effective Dodgers killer working today. In his career, Peavy has started 20 games against the Dodgers -- and lost once.

The Dodgers' offense on Wednesday, in one sentence: Andy LaRoche homered, in his first official at-bat of the season. The team went hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position, with Delwyn Young leading off the sixth inning with a double and Jeff Kent, Russell Martin and Kemp following by failing to get the ball out of the infield.

"I've had plenty of opportunities to drive in runs, and I haven't," said Kemp, who struck out three times. He is batting .303 with men in scoring position, but he has struck out 66 times, as many as Martin and rookie third baseman Blake DeWitt combined.

Kemp also said he had heard enough about how much the Dodgers miss injured leadoff batter Rafael Furcal.

"That's not it," Kemp said. "One guy can make a big difference, but we've got eight good hitters any day that can get the job done. We've got to put it all together."

The losing pitcher was Chad Billingsley, who gave up Edgar Gonzalez's first major league home run in the first inning and a solo home run to Khalil Greene in the second inning.

Kemp spared Billingsley from additional damage with a nice diving catch in the first inning and an excellent running catch in the second. DeWitt also helped Billingsley in the second, diving to smother a ground ball and throwing from the ground to first base for the out.

The winning pitcher was Randy Wolf, who played for the Dodgers last season. Wolf gave up one run and four hits in seven innings, striking out nine. The Dodgers did not invite him to return, and they don't necessarily miss him.

Hiroki Kuroda, the Dodgers' free-agent signee, has a better earned-run average. And, although Wolf singled and scored in the third inning, he wouldn't help the Dodgers' obvious weakness.

"We've been pretty inconsistent offensively," Manager Joe Torre said. "That's pretty much been our signature."


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