CHICAGO — The Dodgers have come a long way from that August day in 2001, when they fielded a lineup in which the first two batters were McKay Christensen and Hiram Bocachica.
The Dodgers haven't hit too many bumps this season, but they stumbled upon quite the pothole Wednesday. For the first time since that 2001 game, they gave up six home runs.
And they lost, 10-7, to the Chicago White Sox. The balls were flying out of U.S. Cellular Field on a hot and sticky evening, and it was not a good sign for the Dodgers that they had fewer hits through five innings than the White Sox had home runs.
Not that Randy Wolf needed to check the box score. Wolf gave up a season-high three home runs in a season-low 3 1/3 innings.
He faced 18 batters, retiring eight. He blasted himself after the game, without even waiting for a reporter to ask what went wrong.
"You don't have to ask a question," Wolf said. "There's no way to candy-coat it. I stunk."
The Dodgers almost got him off the hook. The White Sox had a 10-3 lead after five innings, but they needed to deploy closer Bobby Jenks. After Juan Pierre doubled and scored in the seventh inning and Matt Kemp hit a three-run homer in the eighth, Jenks earned the save by retiring the side in order in the ninth.
The Dodgers trailed by six, with six outs to go, when Manager Joe Torre removed cleanup batter Casey Blake, to give him a little extra rest before today's afternoon game. In the ninth, with Juan Castro hitting in Blake's spot, Castro struck out.
Wolf was brutal in his self-assessment. He gave up five runs, seven hits and two walks, with two wild pitches and a hit batter.
"It's impossible to look in the mirror and say you'll get big league hitters out when you're hitting your spot 30% of the time," he said. "Quite frankly, I'm embarrassed with the way I pitched. I was missing my spots by 16 inches. There's no way to get around it. I was awful. When you're awful, you deserve to get your teeth kicked in."
Said Torre: "You could see the frustration. He just couldn't throw the ball where he wanted to."
Wolf's autopsy: No ability to throw strikes with the slider, curve hitting the targeted location about 50% of the time, fastball hitting the spot about 30% of the time.
Sometimes, he can make an adjustment to his delivery on the spot, adjusting the motion of his lower body. On this night, he could not.
"It just got worse and worse," he said. "Usually, I'm within a couple of pitches of fixing it. Today, I wasn't.
"I was 2-1, 3-1, 3-2 on everybody. That's a recipe for disaster."
He wasn't the only one in trouble. Cory Wade gave up four runs in one inning -- on two home runs -- and the rookie revelation in last season's bullpen left the ballpark with a 5.88 earned-run average.
"His success is based on command," Torre said. "He just made his pitches too fat. He needs location, because he doesn't have overpowering stuff."
Wolf is done with interleague play this season, probably for the best. In 232 career starts against National League teams, he has given up three home runs three times, four once. In 26 career starts against American League teams, he has given up three home runs three times.
Surely a coincidence, but no need to worry about it again, at least until October.