Joe Torre had seen enough.
The Dodgers manager called a rare postgame, closed-door meeting with his club after their mistake-riddled, 2-1 loss to the Angels on Wednesday night.
Players said Torre told them that the defending National League West champions couldn't continue making such game-changing miscues if they wanted to stay in contention again this year.
"He just said we can't continue to beat ourselves," said Reed Johnson, who was running toward home to score the tying run in the ninth inning when Russell Martin was thrown out after overrunning second base — for the final out — before Johnson reached the plate.
Torre "wasn't questioning our effort," Johnson said. "He's knows that we're going to play hard. We just have to play hard and under control at the same time."
Earlier in the inning, centerfielder Matt Kemp had been picked off second base by Angels closer Brian Fuentes.
"When you lose four or five games in a row, people are a little down," Kemp said. "But we all know what we're capable of, and [Torre] wants us to play better than we've been playing."
Before Thursday night's game, Torre told reporters that "we got to move forward. You've got to be able to deal with stuff you can't change. It was one that we let get away, but you turn the page.
"They knew what happened," he said of his players. "I don't think there's any question that we certainly need to play a better brand of baseball."
Nearly overshadowed in that wild loss to the Angels was the rebound by Dodgers rookie starter John Ely.
After three poor starts, Ely (3-5) bounced back with a solid outing even though the 24-year-old was handed the loss. Ely gave up two runs (one earned) and only three hits in seven innings, while striking out six Angels and walking two.
"I would rather have given up four or five [runs] and won the game," the right-hander said. "It was a tough loss." But he added that the game was "great, positive step forward, personally."
Torre said "Ely was great. I thought he showed a lot of courage going out there and pitching the way he did in a close game. He got big outs in situations."
After six impressive starts early this season, Ely struggled in his next three games, allowing 15 runs in 14 2/3 innings, and his earned-run averaged jumped to 4.15 from 2.54.
"In the last three starts I felt like I wasn't holding up my end by coming out in the fifth [inning] or earlier," Ely said. "It felt good to get us to the eighth inning, save the bullpen a little bit and play the role I'm supposed to play."
And finally …
Starter Chad Billingsley remained scheduled to come off the disabled list (strained groin) and start Monday against the San Francisco Giants, Torre said, adding that Billingsley not only threw about 20 pitches Thursday but also practiced fielding bunts and covering first base "and everything seems to be fine." ... While reinstating starter Charlie Haeger for Thursday night's game, the Dodgers optioned right-handed pitcher Travis Schlichting to triple-A Albuquerque.
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