Reporting from Denver
The Dodgers won five games in a 10-game trip that ended with a 10-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field.
But they remain five games under .500.
Behind Matt Kemp's three home runs in a four-game series in Denver, including one Sunday that gives him 20, the Dodgers scored 33 runs.
But they gave up 30.
So, what should we make of this?
Asked to reflect on the three-city voyage that started with visits to Cincinnati and Philadelphia, Manager Don Mattingly emphasized the level of competition the Dodgers faced and downplayed the downturn in the bullpen's form.
"We knew coming into this trip it was a tough one, to go through the cities we had to go through," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers won two of three from the Reds, one of three from the Phillies and two of four from the Rockies.
"We could've pretty easily been 7-3 or so, 8-2 maybe," Casey Blake said.
They could have also been 3-7.
The Dodgers had to pinch-hit for Ted Lilly in the sixth inning Saturday and replace a cramping Rubby De La Rosa in the bottom of the sixth Sunday, forcing them to go to their bullpen earlier than they wanted.
Both times, substantial leads were nearly blown.
Left fielder Tony Gwynn Jr. made a game-ending diving catch with the bases loaded to preserve what remained of a six-run lead Saturday.
The Dodgers were ahead, 7-3, Sunday when De La Rosa had to be removed from the game because of cramping in his forearm.
Mattingly summoned Ramon Troncoso, who pitched 21/3 scoreless innings Friday.
Troncoso pitched a scoreless sixth inning. But with the Dodgers ahead, 9-3, in the seventh inning, fatigue appeared to get to him.
Troncoso served up two-run home runs to Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, reducing the Dodgers' lead to 9-7.
Juan Uribe drove in James Loney in the eighth inning to increase the Dodgers' advantage to 10-7, but not even that could ensure a ninth inning devoid of drama.
Blake Hawksworth gave up a two-out home run to Todd Helton and the Dodgers' lead was back down to two runs. Tulowitzki singled and, suddenly, the tying run was at the plate.
Mattingly called on Scott Elbert to face Seth Smith.
Elbert was the same pitcher who recorded one out and was charged with five runs in his two previous appearances in the series.
"I had one lefty and I had to go with him," Mattingly said.
Smith hit a sharp grounder down the first base line, but Loney was able to reach it to record the final out.
Mattingly blamed the spacious ballpark for the bullpen's problems.
"I'm not going to judge what's going on with our 'pen based on four games in Colorado," Mattingly said.
Help could be on the way.
Sidelined closer Jonathan Broxton could be about a week from embarking on a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
Kenley Jansen is eligible to be activated from the disabled list Monday, but his availability presents General Manager Ned Colletti with a dilemma.
Do the Dodgers activate Jansen right away or do they continue to stretch him out in the minor leagues?
Jansen pitched two perfect innings for double-A Chattanooga on Saturday. Because the Dodgers don't have many relievers capable of pitching multiple innings, Mattingly said he would like to have Jansen pitch two innings for Chattanooga on Tuesday.
Asked whether the heavy use of the bullpen over the weekend would force the Dodgers to add a reliever for the start of a three-game series against the Reds on Monday, Mattingly laughed and shook his head.
"I just got through this one," he said.