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Dodgers suffer more bottle shock, lose again

COLORADO 4, DODGERS 3

Champagne remains unopened for sixth straight day as Dodgers lose their fifth in a row, this time to Rockies, who trim their NL West lead to one game.

October 03, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ | ON THE DODGERS

There were times Friday night when the Dodgers looked confused, like when Manny Ramirez readjusted his elbow protector a few steps outside of the batter's box, evidently unaware that he had struck out.

There were times when they looked frustrated, like when Matt Kemp leaped in the air, violently threw his helmet to the ground and screamed at first base umpire Doug Eddings, who ruled that he hadn't legged out an infield single.

Really? Was this really happening?

On the day the Dodgers officially ruled out Hiroki Kuroda for the opening round of the postseason because of a bulging disk in his neck, they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Colorado Rockies, who cut L.A.'s lead in the National League West to one game with two to play.

Can the Dodgers actually blow their lead in the division?

These are the same Rockies who trailed them by 15 1/2 games on June 3, the same Rockies they had beaten in 12 of the previous 15 meetings, the same Rockies who had an alcohol-drenched celebration the previous day when they secured their place in the postseason.

For the last six days, one Dodgers win or one Rockies loss would have assured Manager Joe Torre's club of its second consecutive NL West title.

For the last six days, neither has materialized.

Their 150-bottle inventory of champagne traveled with them from Pittsburgh to San Diego, where it doubled in size, only to add to the amount of cargo they had to take back to Los Angeles.

Players say panic hasn't set in, but the numbers say otherwise. The Dodgers have scored only five runs in their last four games, and they're one for 19 with men in scoring position over that span.

"We hadn't been getting many opportunities over the last three games," Torre said. "Just the opportunities that we created for ourselves tonight I have to look at as a positive."

They may have had chances, but they had no excuses Friday. They were at home, and they had their best pitcher going.

The game devolved to a point where Ramirez was booed. Three times. Because he struck out four times.

He was booed in the first inning, when he took a called third strike with Andre Ethier on second base.

He was booed again in the fifth, when he struck out swinging with Rafael Furcal at second.

And again in the seventh, when he struck out with two on and the Dodgers down, 4-3.

Perhaps the only reason Ramirez wasn't booed when he struck out with men on second and third in the third inning was because the crowd, like Ramirez, didn't realize he was out.

"Today, I had a bad day," Ramirez said. "But remember, they didn't make Rome in one day. I know I'm one of the best hitters in the league.

"Now, the war starts."

And the booing? "What do you want me to say? I have no control over that."

Torre said Ramirez's struggles were "definitely a concern. He just doesn't look comfortable up there. We obviously need him. The only thing I can do is write his name in there, pat him on the back and expect better things to happen."

The Dodgers' tormentor on this night was Ubaldo Jimenez, who struck out 10 and gave up one run in six innings.

The Rockies cashed in a couple of two-out walks by Randy Wolf in the first inning when Yorvit Torrealba doubled to right-center for a 2-0 lead.

The Dodgers made it 2-1 in the third, when Orlando Hudson scored on a wild pitch, but Troy Tulowitzki's two-run homer against Ronald Belisario made it 4-1 in the seventh.

Russell Martin's solo homer and Andre Ethier's run-scoring single in the seventh made it a one-run game, but ultimately it was just a tease for the Dodgers.

The only positive for them: Philadelphia and St. Louis lost, meaning the Dodgers can secure home-field advantage through the NL Championship Series when they win their next game.

But there's no middle ground. If they don't win another game, they'll go into the playoffs as the wild card.

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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