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FLORIDA 8, DODGERS 6

Dodgers' Jason Schmidt has a rough outing

The veteran right-hander is bounced from the game in the fourth inning.

July 27, 2009|KEVIN BAXTER

Joe Torre has made no secret of his desire to add a veteran starter to his pitching staff before Friday's trade deadline.

Ideally it would be a guy who has thrived on baseball's biggest stages, in a World Series or an All-Star game. A guy who has competed for the Cy Young Award more than once, who has led his league in shutouts or earned-run average.

A guy, say, like Toronto's Roy Halladay. Or maybe Cleveland's Cliff Lee.

Torre sent a guy with that same resume to the mound Sunday. But if the Dodgers manager really believed Jason Schmidt would be the answer to his prayers, he was having second thoughts only three innings later.

By then Schmidt had gone scurrying for cover after giving up five runs -- four earned -- and five hits in the Dodgers' 8-6 loss to the Florida Marlins.

"Obviously, he didn't have it today," Torre said. "I know he was as frustrated as everybody else."

Of course, the Schmidt who started Sunday wasn't the same hard-throwing right-hander who won 35 games in 2003 and 2004 with the San Francisco Giants and the National League ERA title in 2003. Shoulder surgery 25 months ago robbed the Dodgers of that guy.

This Schmidt, starting for only the second time since June 2007, is a soft-tosser who needs wiles and command to get by. And he had neither against the Marlins, a team that hadn't beaten him in 17 tries.

"The curveball pretty much left me. And then the changeup was up. I had a tough time getting the fastball down. Anything that could have went wrong pretty much did," Schmidt said. "I really didn't have anything that I could go to to get the ball over. So it was a tough day."

It started innocently enough with Schmidt retiring the side in order on seven pitches, all strikes, in the first inning. But the first two Marlins to bat in the second got hits, leading to a run. A walk, a hit batter, an error and two-out doubles by Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu produced three runs in the third.

So by the time Dan Uggla hit Schmidt's second pitch of the fourth inning into the seats down the left-field line, giving the Marlins a 5-0 lead, Torre had seen enough.

After the Marlins added three runs against Jeff Weaver, the Dodgers rallied behind three hits and three runs batted in by James Loney to put the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning. But Matt Kemp fouled out to end the game.

"Everything was hanging and it was just sitting in the middle of the plate," Torre said of Schmidt's pitches. "He's not who he used to be where if he does miss his spots the velocity usually made up for the difference. Right now he's going to have to be more precise."

Whether Schmidt will get another chance to do that, Torre wouldn't say. Perhaps the trade deadline will have something to say about that.

"I don't want to get there yet," Torre said. "I still want to play with the fact that [he has] experience and know-how [and] weigh that against everything else we've seen."

What Torre is certain about, however, is that pitching wins titles. And if the Dodgers want to increase their chances of doing that, they'll need something better than what they got Sunday.

"We have to pitch in order for us to win," Torre said. "Pitching is paramount, so we need to go out there and do a good job. I can't think of any other words to describe it."

--

kevin.baxter@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Different stories

A comparison of Jason Schmidt's last two starts:

JULY 20 VS. CINCINNATI (W)

*--* IP H R ER BB SO 5 5 3 3 3 2 *--*

SUNDAY VS. FLORIDA (L)

*--* IP H R ER BB SO 3 5 5 4 1 1 *--*

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DODGERS TONIGHT

AT ST. LOUIS

When: 4 PDT.

Where: Busch Stadium.

On the air: TV: Prime Ticket, ESPN; Radio: 790, 930.

Probable pitchers: Randy Wolf vs. Chris Carpenter. Tuesday, 5:15 PDT -- Chad Billingsley (10-5, 3.72) vs. Adam Wainwright (11-6, 2.95); Wednesday, 5:15 PDT -- Clayton Kershaw (8-5, 2.96) vs. Joel Pineiro (9-9, 2.95); Thursday, 5:15 PDT -- Hiroki Kuroda (3-5, 4.57) vs. Kyle Lohse (4-6, 4.35).

Update: Carpenter regained his dominant form in July, averaging more than seven innings in four starts while posting a 1.86 earned-run average. In fact, take away a difficult June in which he lost three of five decisions, and he's 6-0 with a 1.29 ERA this season. The Cardinals offense has been strengthened in recent days with the addition of outfielder Matt Holliday, who was seven for 11 in his first three games with St. Louis. Wolf, meanwhile, is overcoming his own bout with tough luck. The veteran, who has pitched well this season but failed to get a decision in 12 of his 21 appearances, has won two of his last three starts, holding Cincinnati to two runs and four hits over 7 1/3 innings his last time out.

-- Kevin Baxter

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