Philadelphia catcher Carlos Ruiz, right, tags out Dodgers second baseman… (Danny Moloshok / Associated…)
The Philadelphia Phillies, title contenders for several years running, came to Dodger Stadium having fallen on hard times this season.
Not that it made much difference to the faltering Dodgers on Monday night.
Philadelphia starter Joe Blanton held the Dodgers to two runs in eight innings, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard hit solo home runs and the Phillies won, 3-2, in the opener of a three-game series at Dodger Stadium.
Despite the return of sluggers Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier from the disabled list Friday, it was the third consecutive loss for the Dodgers and their 18th loss in the last 24 games.
The loss dropped the Dodgers two games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants, who were idle Monday, in the National League West.
It's not likely to get easier for the Dodgers on Tuesday when they might turn to a minor league pitcher to start in place of Chad Billingsley, who has soreness in his throwing elbow, and face the Phillies' Roy Halladay, a two-time Cy Young Award winner.
It was the third consecutive win for the Phillies, who are last in the NL East this season after winning the division for five consecutive years.
But Rollins, Howard and other Phillies remain potent hitters, and Monday showed that if a pitcher makes a mistake "they're going to make you pay," Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said.
Dodgers starter Nathan Eovaldi (1-6) gave up three runs on six hits in five innings of work.
The right-hander acknowledged that "I fell behind too many times" in the count "and even when I was ahead I didn't put the batters away as quickly as I should."
Relievers Shawn Tolleson, Scott Elbert and Ronald Belisario held the Phillies scoreless for the last four innings.
And the Dodgers got the tying run aboard in the ninth inning when Juan Rivera hit a one-out single against Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon.
But after Tony Gwynn Jr. pinch-ran for Rivera, James Loney grounded out, pinch-hitter Adam Kennedy popped out and Papelbon had his 20th save.
Although the losses have been piling up, Mattingly said he didn't see the energy fading among his players and that "we were fighting the whole way" Monday.
"We play with that kind of energy, we're going to be fine," he said.
Philadelphia scored first when Carlos Ruiz doubled to the left-field corner in the second inning and came home on a single by former Dodger Juan Pierre.
Rollins hit his home run in the third inning and Howard slugged his homer in the fourth inning to give Philadelphia a 3-0 lead. The home run was the first of the season for Howard, who made his season debut July 6.
Jerry Hairston Jr. doubled in the sixth inning and reached third base when Howard, the Phillies' first baseman, dropped the throw on Mark Ellis' grounder. Hairston then scored when Kemp grounded into a double play.
After Rivera singled and reached third base in the seventh inning, he scored on Blanton's wild pitch.