ARLINGTON, TEXAS — In the aftermath of their 6-0 loss to the Texas Rangers on Friday night at Rangers Ballpark, the Dodgers didn't look or sound like a team that was shut out for the third time in 12 games.
Except in one place.
That was the manager's office, where the Dodgers' recent decline in run production was a cause of concern.
The Dodgers, who averaged 5.75 runs in their first 48 games, have averaged only 2.57 in their last 14. Of his Manny Ramirez-less team's 7-7 record over that span, Manager Joe Torre said, "We've been fortunate, there's no question."
Torre mentioned the rare error by Pedro Feliz in one of the Dodgers' wins over Philadelphia last week. He pointed to the 12th-inning home run hit by Andre Ethier in another.
"We've been fortunate because we won a lot of close games at home," Torre said. "We got a break here, a break there and we've made the most of it. But obviously you can't rely on that. You still have to go out there and put some points up."
There was less urgency evident in the players' dressing quarters.
Referring to how the sky lighted up several times over the course of the three-hour game, Matt Kemp said, "I'm going to blame it on the lightning. The lightning was scary. I was up to bat worried I was going to get struck by lightning. That's why I didn't get that hit when I needed it."
Ethier also downplayed the recent trend.
"If we played like that the whole year, I think we would've broken the record for runs," Ethier said. "There's going to be times when you go through little spells like this. This is one."
Ethier offered a view of some recent Dodgers wins that differed from Torre's.
When the Dodgers couldn't score last season, they lost more often than not.
This season, they've managed to find ways to win a decent percentage of those games.
"That's the key," Ethier said. "We're learning from last year. Sometimes it doesn't take scoring that many runs. We scratch runs out when we need to."
Not on Friday, though it wasn't for the lack of chances.
James Loney drove a ball to center field that Marlon Byrd caught, with some difficulty, with men on second and third in the first inning.
"I hit it pretty good," Loney said.
Loney flied out to left with the bases loaded in the third.
Juan Pierre reached third base with one out in the fifth, but Ethier lined out to first and Casey Blake struck out.
The Dodgers went two for nine with runners in scoring position.
Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda had a rough day, as he was charged with five runs (four earned) and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
That he was pitching in a climate familiar to him didn't seem to help.
"The heat reminded me of Hiroshima," he said, recalling the city he called home in Japan.
A third-inning grounder by Omar Vizquel went through Loney's legs, allowing Taylor Teagarden to score from second. Vizquel stole second and scored on a single by Michael Young to double the Rangers' lead to 2-0.
Kuroda unraveled in the sixth, which he started by serving up a home run to Hank Blalock. Upon giving up back-to-back hits to David Murphy and Byrd, he was pulled from the game. Murphy and Byrd were driven in on a double by Teagarden off of reliever Brent Leach.
The way the game unfolded didn't dissuade Torre from saying that the Dodgers' fortune was bound to change in the near future.
"One of these days, it'll happen to fall into place because we're a much better offensive club than this," he said.