Dodgers starter Rubby De La Rosa delivers a pitch during the first inning… (Craig Lassig / EPA )
Reporting from Minneapolis — At least they're not playing Thursday.
Don Mattingly looked and sounded as if he could use a day off after the Dodgers' latest defeat, a 1-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday at Target Field that dropped his team to a season-worst 10 games under .500 and into last place in the National League West.
The rookie manager acknowledged that the constant losing has taken an emotional toll.
"It wears you down, obviously," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers' traveling tragicomedy will take a one-day intermission and resume Friday with a three-game series in Anaheim against the Angels.
Mattingly and his players continue to say they're a better team than their 36-46 record indicates.
"At the beginning of the season, you feel like you're better than this," Mattingly said. "I still feel like we're better than this."
That feeling hasn't translated into performance.
A day removed from a disastrous outing by Ted Lilly and two days after piling up 15 runs, the Dodgers were toppled by a familiar nemesis: their inability to hit.
The Dodgers were shut out for the eighth time this season, as Twins starter Scott Baker held them to six hits over 71/3 innings.
They had only three men in scoring position. Their best opportunity presented itself in the third inning, when Dee Gordon stole third base with one out. Casey Blake popped out to first baseman Luke Hughes in foul territory and Andre Ethier struck out.
Rookie Rubby De La Rosa had the best start of his infant career, limiting the Twins to a first-inning run and six hits over seven innings. De La Rosa decreased his earned-run average from 5.26 to 4.41 but was saddled with his third consecutive loss.
"He did his job, we just didn't do our job offensively," Matt Kemp said.
Mattingly refused to say the Dodgers are a bad offensive team, saying, "At times it looks OK."
Asked when a team goes from being an underachieving team to simply a bad team, he replied, "You become a bad team when you don't play hard and you give up."
According to Mattingly, the players haven't done that.
For their part, the players are making the type of rah-rah, made-for-television statements customarily made by players on losing teams.
Their message: They're still playing hard. They haven't given up. They can turn their season around.
"We're not frustrated," Kemp said. "We have a lot of time left. We're going to keep playing, keep battling. We're going to try to turn this thing around. We have faith in ourselves."
James Loney said something similar.
"At any level, if you're not wanting to compete and do well all the time, you shouldn't be playing," Loney said. "That's why they give you such a long season. You never know what can happen. You play hard and make it a better story for you to write at the end."
Loney looked concerned. "You didn't write that down," he said.
Loney was told that what he said was captured on a digital recording device.
"Oh, OK," he said.