This was the kind of game the Dodgers had to win.
The Dodgers were facing the last-place Colorado Rockies. The two other teams contending for the National League West title were playing teams with records better than theirs.
But the Dodgers squandered their opportunity to leapfrog the San Francisco Giants into first place or distance themselves from the third-place Arizona Diamondbacks, falling to the Rockies on Monday night, 2-0.
The only saving grace was that the Giants and Diamondbacks also lost. The Dodgers remained half a game behind the Giants and 31/2 games ahead of the Diamondbacks.
The Rockies were without their best player, Troy Tulowitzki, who is sidelined because of a groin strain. First baseman Todd Helton is out for the season, as he is scheduled to undergo a hip operation Friday.
Holding down the Rockies lineup wasn't a problem. Chris Capuano did a reasonable job of that, limiting the injury-ravaged visitors to two runs over seven innings.
"He kept us in there, gave us a chance," Manager Don Mattingly said of Capuano.
But the Dodgers couldn't hit, particularly with men on base.
They had five hits and were zero for eight with men in scoring position. They stranded 10 men on base.
This was something of a surprise, considering the Rockies are doing a curious pitching experiment.
With Jorge De La Rosa, Juan Nicasio and Jhoulys Chacin all on the disabled list, the Rockies have used a four-man rotation since late June.
The out-of-the-box thinking hasn't changed their fortunes. Because the starting pitchers are on pitch counts of around 75, Manager Jim Tracy has often been forced to use his lower-caliber relievers in difficult situations.
Starter Drew Pomeranz pitched four innings Monday, which resulted in Tracy turning to Adam Ottavio for three innings. Ottavio entered the game with an earned-run average of 4.85.
But it didn't matter. The Dodgers couldn't score.
The Dodgers had Pomeranz in trouble multiple times.
Shane Victorino and Mark Ellis started the first inning with consecutive singles, but Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Juan Rivera failed to drive them in.
The Dodgers had Victorino and Ellis on first and second in the third inning, only for Kemp to ground into a double play. Ramirez struck out to end the inning.
Three men reached base in the fourth inning but none scored.
"We just didn't get the big hits today. We didn't get the job done," Kemp said.
The Dodgers' most spirited assault came in the seventh inning with Ottavio on the mound. That was as much a product of Mattingly's lawyering as the Dodgers' hitting.
With two outs and A.J. Ellis on first base, Victorino hit a soft line drive that was initially ruled to have been caught by center fielder Dexter Fowler. Mattingly protested, prompting a meeting among the four umpires, who overturned the call and put men on first and third.
That forced Tracy out of the dugout. Tracy threw his cap on the ground and was ejected.
But it was all for nothing, as Mark Ellis flied out to left field to end the inning.
The defeat ended a three-game winning streak for the Dodgers, who remain amazingly streaky.
Their winning streak was preceded by a three-game losing streak, which was preceded by a three-game winning streak. That streak, in turn, was preceded by a three-game losing streak, which was preceded by a five-game winning streak, which was preceded by a four-game losing streak.