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Dodgers can't get to Cubs' Carlos Zambrano in 5-1 loss

Right-hander holds L.A. to one run in eight innings and gets long-ball support from Geovany Soto, Carlos Pena and Marlon Byrd.

May 04, 2011|By Jim Peltz
  • Chicago starter Carlos Zambrano delivers a pitch during the Dodgers' 5-1 loss Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.
Chicago starter Carlos Zambrano delivers a pitch during the Dodgers'… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

At least the Dodgers didn't have to worry about who would be their closer Wednesday.

On a day when incumbent closer Jonathan Broxton and hot-hitting Andre Ethier joined third baseman Casey Blake on the sidelines because of elbow problems, the Dodgers used a patchwork lineup that included only one player, Matt Kemp, batting over .250.

That proved no match for Chicago Cubs starter Carlos Zambrano (4-1), who held the Dodgers to one run through eight innings, and home runs by a trio of Cubs powered Chicago to a 5-1 win in an afternoon game at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers then left for a seven-game trip to New York and Pittsburgh saddled with a list of problems:

—On the morning after a disastrous outing in which he threw eight consecutive balls, Broxton admitted having elbow problems and was immediately shut down by Manager Don Mattingly, pending the results of an MRI exam that weren't immediately available after the game.

—Ethier was scratched from the starting lineup because of a sore left elbow, putting on hold his hitting streak of 29 consecutive games. The right fielder, who's batting .370, said the elbow has been bothering him off and on since he slid into the plate against the St. Louis Cardinals in mid-April.

"It's more tender on the throwing than the swinging," said Ethier, who has a .438 lifetime batting average against Zambrano. "The last couple of days have [felt more] worse than good."

—Infielder Juan Uribe left the game because of a bruise on his left hand after being hit by a Zambrano pitch in the fourth inning. The Dodgers said X-rays were negative.

—The durability of potential closers Vicente Padilla and Hong-Chih Kuo is unknown, since they're relatively fresh off the disabled list. On the bright side, each tossed a scoreless inning in relief Wednesday.

—The Dodgers offense has gone into hiding again, with the team averaging two runs in a six-game home stand, four of which they lost.

"We're in that little phase right now but I still think we're going to score runs," Mattingly said.

The Dodgers' only run in front of 28,419 on Wednesday — another of this season's "throwback" games with the teams wearing 1940s uniforms — came in the sixth inning when Tony Gwynn Jr. doubled, moved to third base on a single by Aaron Miles and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jay Gibbons.

Pitching with temperatures in the low 90s, starter Ted Lilly held his former team scoreless through the first four innings. But he gave up a solo home run in the fifth inning to Geovany Soto.

It got worse in the sixth inning, when Carlos Pena drilled his second home run in as many days to the right-field corner. And after Zambrano and Darwin Barney singled, Marlon Byrd hit a home run to the left-field pavilion.

For Lilly (2-3), it was a familiar story. Lilly had gotten an average of only 3.03 runs of support per nine innings since the start of the 2010 season, lowest in the big leagues, according to the Dodgers.

"When you're not scoring … I really feel like Teddy is trying to keep zeroes every inning and can't make any mistakes, and that's not a good way to pitch," Mattingly said.

james.peltz@latimes.com

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