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Dodgers continue their fast fade in 11-2 loss to Cardinals

Hittable pitching and paltry offense prove a deadly combination for L.A., which loses its fourth in a row. Dodgers right-hander Jon Garland is hit hard in his season debut.

April 15, 2011|By Ben Bolch
  • Dodgers starting pitcher Jon Garland waits to return to the mound as Cardinals right fielder Lance Berkman rounds third base after hitting a home run in the fourth inning Friday night at Dodger Stadium.
Dodgers starting pitcher Jon Garland waits to return to the mound as Cardinals… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)

Like the faded Opening Series logos on their field, the Dodgers already seem like a washed-out version of the team that won three of its first four games.

Funny how quickly things can change when your opponents stop committing a comedy of errors.

Unlike the San Francisco Giants, who appeared intent on beating themselves, the St. Louis Cardinals seem set on pulverizing the home team at Dodger Stadium.

Lance Berkman and Albert Pujols each homered twice Friday night to power the Cardinals to an 11-2 victory, extending the Dodgers' losing streak to four games.

Dodgers-Cardinals box score

St. Louis has scored 20 runs and amassed 35 hits in winning the first two games of the four-game series.

Things were so freaky Friday that Yadier Molina had four of St. Louis' 19 hits, raising his average from .189 to .268 in just over three hours. Colby Rasmus hit three doubles; even pitcher Kyle Lohse had a single.

"We just have to slow them down, and usually that momentum starts with the starting pitcher," said Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly, noting L.A. starts ace Clayton Kershaw on Saturday.

James Loney would rather not discuss hitting problems

Berkman homered twice off Dodgers starter Jon Garland and Pujols homered off relievers Kenley Jansen and Blake Hawksworth. The Dodgers have given up 21 homers, tying Boston for the most in the major leagues.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers' offense sputtered against Lohse (2-1) and two relievers, pressuring the Cardinals in only two innings. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier combined for three hits but continued to receive scant support.

It was not a fitting tribute to former Dodger Jackie Robinson, whom teams throughout the majors honored by wearing No. 42 jerseys on the 64th anniversary of his breaking the major leagues' color barrier.

"We just have to come back tomorrow and score some runs," said Kemp, whose National League-leading .449 batting average is like an island of productivity in a sea of mediocrity.

Garland's return was supposed to bolster the Dodgers' starting rotation. Instead, it only deepened their funk.

In a season debut delayed by a strained side muscle, Garland was shelled for nine hits and five runs in four-plus innings. The right-hander said he simply made too many hittable pitches against a team that has averaged 9.5 runs in its last six games.

"They seem to be hitting everything thrown up there," Garland said.

Berkman continued his early season resurgence with a pair of towering homers off Garland, who committed a rarity: his first balk in 2,0302/3 career major league innings.

It came at an inopportune time, with runners on first and third in the second inning. David Freese was allowed to jog home with St. Louis' second run, though Garland insisted afterward that second base umpire Angel Hernandez was mistaken when he contended that the pitcher had started his motion toward the plate.

"I think he may have blinked and saw me turn toward first base," Garland said. "I've been doing that my whole career."

At least not that many Dodgers fans had to endure the ugly loss. What was announced as a crowd of 36,282 seemed to fill only about half of the 56,000-seat ballpark, with large chunks of empty seats in prime locations.

In six home games, the Dodgers have averaged 43,852 fans per game, a decrease of 3,615 from the same point last year.

The crowds might continue to disperse if there continues to be nothing much good to see here.

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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