Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier leaps but can't make the catch… (Bob Levey / Getty Images )
The Dodgers had been playing so well, Sunday looked as if they were trying to purge all the bad hiding in their systems in one little game.
That sterling fielding? Forget it. That strong starting pitching? A major no-show. A timely offense? Slept all day. Matt Kemp as a baseball demigod? Try regular dude.
It added up to a hide-the-eyes, 12-0 loss to the Houston Astros, a game that was over early but just kept rolling on anyway.
It was as if every good thing the Dodgers have been doing for 2 1/2 weeks disappeared in an instant. The loss finished their road trip at 3-3, and no doubt left them eager to jump on the team plane and head home.
It could be argued the Dodgers were simply due for one of these games, and if so, they weren’t about to disagree.
After four innings, the Astros led 9-0 despite having only four hits.
Right-hander Chad Billingsley, who was 2-0 with a 1.33 earned-run average in his first three games, couldn’t get out of the fourth inning. He gave up nine runs on four hits, four walks and a wild pitch. Only five of the runs were earned, not that Billingsley was exactly robbed.
He gave up a two-run homer to Carlos Lee in the first, after a throwing error by first baseman Juan Rivera.
He gave up a grand slam to leadoff hitter Jordan Schafer in the second, after giving up a single and a pair of walks -- the last to Houston starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez. Schafer’s slam went off the web of Andre Ethier’s glove, as Ethier leapt for it at the wall.
The fourth was just more of the same after Kemp misjudged a hard-hit drive by catcher Jason Castro, breaking in on a ball that sailed over his head and went for a triple. After another Billingsley walk, Dee Gordon dropped a possible double-play relay for an error as a run scored. Another walk and a Billingsley wild pitch scored another, and ended Billingsley’s afternoon.
The Dodgers, who had committed only seven errors in their first 15 games, made three errors Sunday.
And the offense couldn’t even muster a challenge against Rodriguez, who blanked them on three hits in his seven innings.
Even Kemp, who been crushing baseballs, went quietly. He went hitless in three at-bats, ending his 10-game hitting streak. He and Ethier, also hitless, were lifted in the bottom of the sixth.
The white flag was up, one of those games was clearly at hand, due or not. It was the Dodgers' worst shutout defeat in eight years.
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