Reporting from San Francisco — Walking across the visiting clubhouse at AT&T Park, Rafael Furcal pointed at one of the vertical support structures in the middle of the room.
"Check the lineup," he said, laughing. "I'm the only No. 3 hitter who can bunt."
This is what it had come to for the Dodgers: the leadoff hitter batting third.
But Manager Joe Torre's desperate act to awaken his slumbering lineup Sunday didn't change anything.
The Dodgers lost to the San Francisco Giants again, this time by a 2-0 margin. Their fifth consecutive defeat resulted in them falling eight games back of the first-place San Diego Padres in the National League West and 61/2 games back of the Giants in the wild-card race. They dropped into fourth place in the division, passed by the injury-riddled Colorado Rockies.
"I know we're better and I know it's going to turn around," Torre said. "The only question is when it's going to happen. We need for it to happen sooner rather than later."
The Dodgers had four hits. They were held to two or fewer runs for the 12 time in the 17 games they have played since the All-Star break.
Evidently, whatever is afflicting the Dodgers is more powerful than the career-long curse that plagued Giants starter Matt Cain, who earned his first victory over them by pitching 72/3 scoreless innings.
Cain had an 0-8 all-time record against the Dodgers.
"I keep answering the same questions," Torre said. "I don't know different ways to answer them."
On this day, Torre tried to add speed to the top of the lineup.
He put Scott Podsednik in the leadoff spot for the fourth consecutive game and Ryan Theriot, making his Dodgers debut, second.
"The fact that we had trouble scoring runs, I tried to put some speed and contact at the top of the lineup," Torre said.
The 1-2-3 hitters were a combined one for 11 with a walk.
In his return from a five-game suspension that pushed his start back by a day, Clayton Kershaw held the Giants to two runs and six hits over seven innings.
"You give up two runs in seven innings, for the most part, you're in the hunt," Torre said. "Right now, two runs is, unfortunately, a very tall mountain for us to climb."
The runs scored in the sixth inning, when Pat Burrell doubled to right field with one out. Kershaw struck out Pablo Sandoval and intentionally walked Aaron Rowand to face Edgar Renteria.
Renteria tripled to left-center field.
Torre and Giants Manager Bruce Bochy said there was no way center fielder Matt Kemp could have reached that ball, but Kemp disagreed, blaming the late-afternoon sun.
"Definitely, if the sun wasn't like that, I'm catching that," he said.
Torre said the Dodgers couldn't concern themselves with the standings.
"We really can't worry about that," he said. "We have to worry about ourselves right now. Unless we play better, we are where we deserve to be. We have to change that, certainly change the personality and the confidence and everything else before we concern ourselves with how far back we are."
Furcal said something similar.
"We have a lot of games left against those teams," he said. "If we play better, we should be able to make up ground."
Torre said he was expecting right fielder Andre Ethier, who left the team for the last two games for the birth of his second child, to return to the lineup for the series opener against the Padres on Monday.
The manager also received a report that left fielder Manny Ramirez, who is on the disabled list because of a calf strain, was taking live batting practice and running at the Dodgers' spring-training complex in Arizona.
Ramirez could be sent on a rehabilitation assignment in the next few days.
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