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Dodgers get caught in the wild in 5-4 loss to Mets

Hiroki Kuroda is pounded for five runs and eight hits over 41/3 innings. Mets have been struggling and Oliver Perez has control issues, but L.A. is unable to capitalize on the situation.


NEW YORK — Manny Ramirez and Hiroki Kuroda are traveling down the same road.

One of them sounded certain Wednesday night that he would reach his destination.

"I'm pretty sure I'll get there," Ramirez said.

One of them didn't.

"I have to believe it will come," Kuroda said.

In his fifth game back from his 50-game drug suspension, Ramirez hit a ninth-inning home run off Francisco Rodriguez in the Dodgers' 5-4 loss to the New York Mets at Citi Field that threatened to send the game into extra innings.

"I'm going to be OK," said Ramirez, who was one for five.

In his eighth start back from his two-month stint on the disabled list, Kuroda was pounded for five runs and eight hits over 4 1/3 innings.

"Right now, I can't get into a rhythm," said Kuroda, who fell to 3-5.

So much so that the free-falling Mets took advantage of his presence on the mound to end a couple of dubious streaks.

Until Daniel Murphy doubled to left in the first inning -- on a ball completely misread by Ramirez, who watched it sail over his head -- the Mets hadn't had an extra-base hit in 29 innings.

Until Luis Castillo beat out a throw by shortstop Rafael Furcal for an infield single to drive in Jeremy Reed in the second, the Mets hadn't scored a run in 23 innings.

Kuroda started to unhinge in a three-run third inning for the Mets. Murphy doubled and scored on a single by David Wright, who ended an 0-for-17 slump. A walk by Gary Sheffield moved Wright to second; an error by third baseman Casey Blake on a grounder by Ryan Church scored him. Sheffield was driven in by Reed, who singled to put the Mets up, 4-1.

Two more hits and a walk in the fifth inning ended Kuroda's night.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers couldn't take advantage of Mets starter Oliver Perez's wildness, drawing seven walks in five innings but pinning only two runs on him.

Dodgers Manager Joe Torre's pregame comments seemed to foreshadow the fate of Kuroda, who was charged with seven runs in the 11 1/3 innings over his two previous starts.

"Physically, he's back," Torre said. "But I'm not sure if he's in that constant rhythm. He doesn't have that tempo yet. Probably by the second half, he'll be as comfortable as he needs to be."

Four games remain until the All-Star break.

What Ramirez might lack in conditioning -- "My legs," he said -- or defensive acumen -- "You know, I'm not a Gold Glove out there" -- he made up for with one sublime swing in the ninth inning that lifted an outside fastball over the right-field wall.

With some better fortune, the Dodgers could have won the game.

A sharply hit ball by Mark Loretta in the seventh inning hit the first base bag and went in the direction of first baseman Church, who barehanded it and flipped it behind his back to pitcher Bobby Parnell. Replays showed Loretta beat the throw.

After Ramirez hit his home run in the ninth, the Dodgers had runners on first and second. Rodriguez tried to pick off Blake at second but threw the ball into the outfield. Blake was pinned to the ground by Alex Cora, but figuring that Cora had the ball, never made an effort to get up. Had he done so, he would have advanced to third on an interference call.

"My head was down and he was laying on my arm," Blake said. "I thought he had the ball. I thought he caught it."


Times staff writer Kevin Baxter contributed to this report.


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