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MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Bullpen lets down Dodgers in loss to Phillies

Phillies rally in the eighth against Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen, L.A.'s top relievers, for a 3-2 victory. It is Dodgers' fourth loss in a row.

July 17, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

This is turning ugly.

The Dodgers still can't hit. And now, their bullpen looks vulnerable.

They appeared to be on their way to ending a three-game losing streak Tuesday night when setup man Ronald Belisario's control suddenly abandoned him.

With two out in the eighth inning, the bases empty and the Dodgers holding a one-run advantage over the Philadelphia Phillies, Belisario walked Chase Utley on four pitches. He then plunked Ryan Howard. Then he hit Carlos Ruiz.

Closer Kenley Jansen was called on to make a four-out save but instead served up a two-run single to Hunter Pence that sent the Dodgers to a 3-2 defeat in front of a stunned crowd at Dodger Stadium.

"I don't know what happened," Belisario said.

The Dodgers' 19th loss in 25 games dropped the team three games back of the first-place San Francisco Giants in the National League West.

Jansen called the pitch hit by Pence "a perfect pitch."

"It was a perfect ground ball," he said.

But that perfect ground ball went up the middle and into center field.

"What could I do?" Jansen said. "I can't control that."

The loss marked the second lead in the four games blown by Belisario and Jansen.

Three days earlier, Jansen turned his back to home plate, allowing Everth Cabrera of the San Diego Padres to steal home. A throwing error by Jansen on the play resulted in another run scoring and the Dodgers falling, 7-6. Belisario was charged with a run in the eighth inning of that game.

Belisario had an earned-run average of 0.95 in 28 games through July 5. But he has given up five runs over his last five appearances. His ERA has more than doubled, to 2.18.

Jansen and Belisario's inability to hold the 2-1 advantage cost Stephen Fife a win in his major league debut.

Called up from triple-A Albuquerque to replace a sidelined Chad Billingsley, Fife held the Phillies to one run and four hits over six innings.

"It was pretty great to have a dream come true," Fife said. "I definitely had a rush of emotions walking out there the first inning."

Fife, a 25-year-old right-hander, was acquired last year from the Boston Red Sox as an accessory in a three-team deal. The Dodgers' main prize in the trade was catching prospect Tim Federowicz, who remains in Albuquerque. To acquire Fife, Federowicz and minor league pitcher Jorge Rodriguez, the Dodgers parted with outfielder Trayvon Robinson.

Fife's visit to the majors figures to be brief.

Reliever Javy Guerra has been in Mexico to be with his father, who underwent open-heart surgery Saturday. Fife is expected to sent down to triple A as soon as Guerra returns to the team, which could be as early as Wednesday.

Fife left the game Tuesday with a lead courtesy of Matt Kemp.

With Ryan Howard on second base in the sixth inning, Kemp fielded a single to left-center field by Pence and unleashed a throw that got Howard at the plate and preserved the one-run advantage.

From his knees, Howard disputed umpire Wally Bell's call, protesting that his right hand touched the plate before he was touched by catcher A.J. Ellis' glove.

The Dodgers' only runs came in the second inning, which they started with four consecutive hits off Roy Halladay. Andre Ethier scored on a single by James Loney and Adam Kennedy scored on a single by Luis Cruz to put the Dodgers ahead, 2-1.

Halladay, who pitched five innings, was activated from the disabled list earlier in the day and made his first appearance since May 27. He had been sidelined by a strained side muscle.

Manager Don Mattingly said this was the kind of game the Dodgers routinely won early in the season. Only now his team isn't getting the big out or hit.

"The games," he said, "are no different."

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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