Reporting from Phoenix — Do the Dodgers have to sweep the San Francisco Giants in the three-game series that starts Monday?
The Dodgers, who dropped a 4-1 decision to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday, will go into AT&T Park trailing the first-place Giants by 121/2 games.
"You have to go in there and gain some ground," Mattingly said. "But you can't go in there and say, 'We have to sweep.' I say you go in there, win the series, pick up a game."
But considering the circumstances, isn't a sweep necessary?
"So if you win two out of three, you walk out of there feeling bad?" Mattingly asked.
Well, your outlook is becoming increasingly bleak …
"Things change quickly in a week," Mattingly said. "This last stretch, we won five in a row, but they won pretty much every day. We gained half a game in that stretch. Well, if we can go out and win five in a row again and they lose three out of five, then we've picked up three games in five days."
The 1982 Dodgers, who erased a 10-game deficit against the Atlanta Braves, were introduced into the conversation.
Mattingly smiled until he was told the Dodgers did that by sweeping the Braves — twice, in a couple of four-game series.
"I'm not saying you don't want to do it," Mattingly said of taking three games from the Giants. "I just don't think we should set ourselves up for failure."
For these Dodgers, failure is a very real possibility.
They dropped two of three games to the second-place Diamondbacks by doing what they have done for most of the season.
The Dodgers had five hits, all singles, off Diamondbacks starter Daniel Hudson, who pitched a complete game.
For six innings, Ted Lilly held the Diamondbacks to three hits.
But the hits by Ryan Roberts in the second inning and Hudson in the sixth went for home runs, which put the Dodgers in a 2-0 hole.
Lilly departed the game with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning. He was replaced by Blake Hawksworth, who served up a two-run single to Hudson.
"Eventually, I have to win one of these," Lilly said.
Lilly didn't hide behind the lack of run support he received.
"It's not like I'm sporting a 11/2 ERA," he said.
Over a three-start stretch from June 17-28, Lilly gave up 18 runs in 142/3 innings. In his three appearances since then, he has been charged with eight runs in 172/3 innings.
Lilly recently resumed throwing bullpen sessions between starts — something he wasn't able to do for most of last month because of minor elbow problems.
"It has helped," he said. "I feel like I'm a little sharper with my delivery."
Asked whether he considered placing himself on the disabled list last month, Lilly replied, "Because I'm not pitching well?"
Lilly was reminded that he wasn't able to work between starts.
"If I were to do that, for me, that would have been more of an excuse," he said. "It wasn't to the point where I was in so much pain I couldn't pitch."