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Dodgers come up empty

Weekend series with the Diamondbacks might have taken something out of the offense, which can't get going in a 4-0 loss to the Padres.

September 09, 2008|Dylan Hernandez | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers found out on Monday what life was like for the Arizona Diamondbacks over the last five months.

The Dodgers lost. They didn't score a run. And it didn't matter.

The standings at the top of the National League West remained unchanged, the Dodgers losing, 4-0, to the San Diego Padres at Petco Park but remaining 1 1/2 games ahead of the Diamondbacks, who fell in San Francisco.

The out-of-town scoreboard was literally staring at Dodgers Manager Joe Torre in the face, plastered on electronic display on the right-field wall across from the visitors' dugout.

Was Torre watching?

"All the time," he said.

But Torre was shaking his head.

"It's an opportunity to pick up more ground," Torre said. "We need to go out and try to add to our lead. It's still too early for us to think about the finish line."

Torre said he anticipated a letdown from the Dodgers, as they were only a day removed from completing a three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks. He went as far to raise the issue in a pregame meeting, reminding his players that because they were on the road and no longer facing the team they were chasing, they couldn't rely on external forces to provide them with a surge of adrenaline.

Being back at Petco Park didn't do much for Greg Maddux, who was traded by the Padres to the Dodgers last month in a waiver deal.

Maddux gave up a two-run home run to Adrian Gonzalez in the first inning to put the Dodgers at a 2-0 deficit they would never recover. Maddux (7-12) pitched six innings and was charged with four runs and seven hits.

Though the 42-year-old future Hall of Fame member lost for the third time in four starts with the Dodgers this season, he said he felt he had enough in the tank to get the results to go the other way over the final stretch.

"I feel good about how I'm thinking and how I'm throwing on the mound," he said.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team can take comfort in knowing who they won't be facing over the next two days.

The Dodgers won't face Jake Peavy. They'll also avoid Chris Young, who took a perfect game into the eighth inning at Milwaukee on Sunday.

"You don't look forward to facing a Peavy, that's for sure," Torre said.

The Diamondbacks had to face Tim Lincecum in San Francisco on Monday.

But Torre has long refuted the notion that the names of the teams and pitchers on the calendar provide his team with some sort of edge, saying that anything can happen.

The point that Torre tried to make was proven on the field on Monday, as Padres starter Cha Seung Baek (5-9) shut the Dodgers out over seven innings and held them to three hits.

Only six days earlier, the Dodgers hit Baek harder than he'd been hit the entire season, handing him a loss at Dodger Stadium by hammering him for seven runs and eight hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Two of the Dodgers' three hits on Monday were by Andre Ethier, who was three for four with two doubles.

Ethier doubled in the sixth and ninth with Manny Ramirez on deck. Ramirez struck out both times.

The only other time the Dodgers had someone in scoring position was in the fifth, when Casey Blake drew a one-out walk and moved to second base on a single to right field by Blake DeWitt.

Blake and DeWitt each moved up a base on a groundout by Angel Berroa. Maddux grounded out to end the threat.

Maddux said he didn't notice a drop-off in the Dodgers' energy level, only a lack of hits that didn't let the team display its hustle on the basepaths.

Ramirez shrugged and laughed when relayed Torre's words.

"My energy was fine," he said. "I can't control the energy of others."

Did he notice anything different about his teammates?

"When I play, I concentrate on myself," he said. "I don't check on them."

Was he watching the out-of-town scoreboard?

"I don't waste my time with that," he said.

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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