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Dodgers' division lead decreases with 3-2 loss to Rockies

The Dodgers, who have lost six of their last seven, are just three games ahead of San Francisco in the NL West. L.A. ties a season low for hits with three against Colorado on Sunday.

June 03, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

DENVER -- The Dodgers still have the best record in baseball, but their lead in the National League West is down to three games.

The Dodgers have lost six of their last seven games, the most recent of them a 3-2 defeat to the Colorado Rockies on Sunday at Coors Field. On the same day, the second-place San Francisco Giants claimed a 2-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs to further reduce a deficit in the standings that was at 7 1/2 games a week earlier.

The Dodgers, who dropped two of three games in Denver, have seven games remaining on their 10-game, three-city trip. Up next: the Philadelphia Phillies.

"You see what's going on," Manager Don Mattingly said. "But you're really more concerned with yourself than anybody else. We just have to take care of our own business."

For one, they have to start hitting. In each of the six games they lost over the last week, the Dodgers scored three or fewer runs.

The Dodgers (33-21) are expected to activate left fielder Juan Rivera from the disabled list Monday for their series opener in Philadelphia. The return of Rivera, who was sidelined for almost a month with a torn hamstring tendon, will present Mattingly with greater lineup flexibility.

Rivera could offer days off to 38-year-old Bobby Abreu, who has established himself in recent weeks as the Dodgers' primary left fielder and No. 3 hitter. On days Mattingly wants to play Abreu, he has the option to move Rivera to first base and sit the offensively tormented James Loney.

Mattingly already introduced a change Sunday, as he reinserted Dee Gordon into the leadoff spot. Gordon was batting .200 when he was removed from the top of the lineup May 19. He went into Sunday batting .308 in his last 11 games.

"I always wanted to get him back there," Mattingly said. "I think it gives him so much more freedom. If he can be that guy, it gives us better balance."

Mattingly pointed to how the Dodgers were 7-7 after Gordon was dropped in the order.

"So it's not like we're tearing it up without him there," Mattingly said.

With Gordon there, they didn't, either. The Dodgers were held to three hits Sunday, matching their season low.

The Dodgers pounded Rockies starter Alex White for six runs in 4 1/3 innings at Dodger Stadium on May 13, but couldn't touch him on this day. White held them to two hits over 6 2/3 innings.

Still, the Dodgers had a chance to win, as 22-year-old starter Nathan Eovaldi limited the Rockies to three runs (two earned) and five hits over 5 2/3 innings.

Catcher A.J. Ellis, whose passed ball led to the Rockies' first run, hit a two-run home run off White in the seventh inning to close the deficit to 3-2.

Rookie Alex Castellanos came up later in the inning with two outs, Gordon on first base and Adam Kennedy on second.

Castellanos smashed a ball against reliever Matt Belisle that appeared to be on its way to right-center. But second baseman DJ LeMahieu made a sliding backhanded stop and threw him out at first base.

"I thought it was going through," Castellanos said.

That might have put the Dodgers ahead.

"He hit it right on the screws," Mattingly said. "If it gets by clean, Dee may score on that ball. That ball's going to get deep where they have to take some kind of angle so it doesn't get by them. With his speed there, it's going to be a banger at the plate."

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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