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Dodgers' John Ely struggles again in 7-3 loss to Cubs

Rookie right-hander can't make it out of the third inning and is charged with six runs and five hits.

July 10, 2010|By Dylan Hernandez

John Ely didn't point any fingers. He didn't hide behind any excuses.

Ely stood in front of his locker, looked straight ahead and said what was obvious to anyone who watched him take a pounding in the Dodgers' 7-3 defeat by the Chicago Cubs on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

"Right now," he said, "I'm not getting the job done."

In his second consecutive train-wreck start, the rookie right-hander was charged with six runs and five hits in only 2 1/3 innings.

Ely set a career low for innings pitched, as he recorded one fewer out than he did five days earlier, when the Florida Marlins scored six runs against him in 2 2/3 innings.

Despite Ely's 19.80 earned-run average over his last two games, Manager Joe Torre said the 24-year-old would remain the Dodgers' fifth starter.

For now.

While saying Ely's ups and downs had to be expected of someone of his experience level, Torre said, "He needs to pitch more consistently."

Ely was 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA in his first seven starts.

But as opposing teams added notes to their scouting reports on him, his performance declined.

He is 1-5 with a 7.49 ERA over his last seven starts.

Torre said that the Dodgers are hoping to add an experienced arm to their rotation by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

The manager also said that former minor league pitcher of the year James McDonald, who has recovered from a hamstring injury and is with triple-A Albuquerque, is a candidate to be called up at some point. Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, who started the season as the fifth starter but is in Albuquerque, isn't.

Ely's troubles started in the second inning.

With Marlon Byrd on first base, he gave up a run-scoring single to Starlin Castro that put the Dodgers behind, 1-0. A two-run home run by Geovany Soto increased the deficit to 3-0.

"Soto's home run took a lot of the wind out of his sails," catcher A.J. Ellis said of Ely.

Ely never made it out of the third inning.

With one out, he gave up consecutive singles to Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez. He plunked Byrd to load the bases, then walked Alfonso Soriano to push home a run.

Torre had seen enough.

Rookie reliever Travis Schlichting replaced Ely and gave up successive singles to Castro and Soto that drove in two of the three runners he inherited.

The Dodgers were down, 6-0. The game was essentially over.

As is his custom, Ely was refreshingly candid during his postgame comments.

"I don't know how you can't be frustrated," he said.

Ely also displayed the kind of optimism reserved for those his age, proclaiming, "I guarantee I'm going to come out of this."

The claim wasn't entirely unfounded. Ely has pitched his way out of one bad run in the majors.

Over a three-start stretch in June, he gave up 15 runs in 14 2/3 innings.

But he recovered to pitch seven innings in each of his next two starts, limiting the Angels and San Francisco Giants to one earned run each.

"It's baseball," Ely said. "It's a frustrating sport. You have to be mentally strong. You have to bounce back. If you can't, what does that say about your character?"

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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