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Dodgers burn out in clutch

They fail to deliver in run-scoring situations and lose to the Padres.

September 05, 2009|DYLAN HERNANDEZ

Clayton Kershaw is turning into Randy Wolf.

He can't win.

Doesn't matter if he blanks his opponents or holds them to one earned run over six innings, as he did the San Diego Padres in a 2-0 loss at Dodger Stadium on Friday night.

He has a 2.75 earned-run average in his last nine starts.

He's also 0-3 over that span with six no-decisions, inheriting the misfortune that haunted Wolf until the veteran left-hander went on his current four-game winning streak.

"I don't care about me winning," Kershaw said. "I really don't care as long as long as the team wins."

But the Dodgers aren't, the latest defeat reducing their lead over the second-place Colorado Rockies in the National League West to 4 1/2 games. The margin over the third-place San Francisco Giants was cut to 5 1/2 .

To his credit, Kershaw (8-8) hasn't pointed any fingers of blame at anyone other than himself.

He had every reason to do so Friday, as the Dodgers were 0 for 8 with men in scoring position while he was in the game.

They finished a season-worst 0 for 11.

This in a game that was started by Wade LeBlanc, who was 0-2 with a 16.30 ERA in his two previous starts in this ballpark.

Friday night, LeBlanc (1-1) held the Dodgers to two hits over six scoreless innings.

The Dodgers are five for 37 with men in scoring position on this homestand and have lost three of the five games.

"I'm concerned," Manager Joe Torre admitted. "But being concerned doesn't straighten things out."

The frustration of the fans reached a point to where Manny Ramirez was booed for the first time in a game in which he didn't misplay a ball in the outfield, as they voiced their displeasure upon seeing him take a called third strike in the eighth inning.

Later that inning, the crowd rose to applaud Jim Thome, who was acquired from the Chicago White Sox on Monday to pinch-hit in situations like this.

Thome lined a single to right-center in his first at-bat for his new employers, moving Matt Kemp to third base.

But the crowd-roaring hit was only a tease, as Ronnie Belliard flied out to short center field and James Loney flied out to left to end the inning.

The gravity of the cliche, "That's part of baseball," is probably starting to gain weight in the mind of Kershaw.

Not that the kid was entirely blameless.

The first two batters he faced reached base, as he walked Everth Cabrera and gave up a hit to David Eckstein.

Cabrera was thrown out attempting to steal third, but Eckstein scored on a single by Kevin Kouzmanoff to put the Dodgers behind, 1-0.

Kershaw gave up a leadoff single to Oscar Salazar in the second that turned out to be costly. Nick Hundley reached base on an infield single and shortstop Rafael Furcal's attempt to throw him out sailed past first baseman Loney, allowing Salazar to score.

Hundley moved to second on the error and reached third on another wild throw on the same play, this one by Loney, who tried in vain to gun down Salazar at the plate.

Kershaw limited the damage, stranding Hundley by retiring the next two batters.

From the third inning through the sixth, Kershaw faced only one batter over the minimum.

"If it's a close game, you want to keep your team in it," he said. "I've learned how to do that a little bit."

Twenty-one-years old or not, he said he doesn't want to be treated like a kid and doesn't want his age to be used to excuse his failures.

"I don't want to feel like I'm a special experiment," he said.

Not your average 21-year-old, huh?

Torre finally cracked a smile.

"Far from it, especially when I use myself as an example," he said.


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