ST. LOUIS — What's wrong with Ronald Belisario?
Nothing, according to the Dodgers' hard-throwing reliever, even though he has struggled in his last several games after being nearly unhittable for two months.
"That's baseball," Belisario said Tuesday, after being tagged for a two-run home run by Carlos Beltran of the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday. "I'm still the same."
Through Monday, Belisario had given up eight runs in his last 72/3 innings for a 9.39 earned-run average.
That was in stark contrast to the previous two months, when the right-handed sinkerball pitcher from Venezuela gave up three runs in 281/3 innings for a 0.95 ERA.
Belisario, 29, has been the Dodgers' main reliever for the eighth inning ahead of closer Kenley Jansen. And with the Dodgers often playing close games, Belisario has been called on regularly.
But Belisario said he was not tired from too much work and he didn't have any physical or mechanical problems to account for the recent poor outings.
"It happens," he said. "I don't want to give up any runs when I'm pitching. Right now I've kind of struggled but I'll get it back."
But Manager Don Mattingly intimated that Belisario's recent struggles might indeed stem from frequent work. The reliever had appeared in seven of the Dodgers' last 10 games.
"He's been worked fairly regularly, that's for sure, and I think we have to pay attention to how we use him," Mattingly said. "The stronger he is, the better he is."
Belisario is "pretty much a sinker/slider guy — there's no real trick to what Beli's doing," Mattingly said. "When Beli gets tired or gets frustrated, the ball gets up and gets more flat," rather than darting up and down when it's most effective, Mattingly said.
Ted Lilly throws bullpen
Left-handed starter Ted Lilly, who is on the 60-day disabled list because of soreness in his throwing shoulder, threw about 60 pitches in a bullpen session Tuesday.
Mattingly said Lilly, 36, reported he "felt good" but that the real test would be how the veteran feels Wednesday.
"We'll see how he is tomorrow, that's what determines what happens next," Mattingly said.
If Lilly keeps improving, a simulated game against hitters might be the next step, Mattingly said.
Before going on the DL, Lilly was 5-1 with a 3.14 ERA.
With game-time temperatures expected to remain at or near triple digits at Busch Stadium through Thursday, the Dodgers were alternating catchers A.J. Ellis and Matt Treanor throughout the series.
Treanor got the start Tuesday after Ellis, who recently sat out two games because of a sore knee, played Monday.
"I'd rather keep them fresh through this series," Mattingly said, adding that it was a matter of "common sense in this weather."