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Little lead left for the Dodgers

Giants record second consecutive shutout and cut deficit to one game. Kershaw has no margin for error.

June 27, 2012|Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw delivers a pitch during the Dodgers' 2-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday.
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw delivers a pitch during the Dodgers'… (Jason O. Watson / Getty Images )

SAN FRANCISCO — The Four Horsemen are preparing to descend. The Dodgers' lead in the National League West is down to one game.

Clayton Kershaw was on the mound Tuesday night, but that wasn't enough to prevent the Dodgers from losing for the seventh time in eight games, as they fell, 2-0, to the second-place San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.

Only a week ago, the Dodgers were ahead of the Giants by 41/2 games. As recently as May 27, their lead was 71/2 games.

The Dodgers were shut out in consecutive games against the Giants for the first time since 1987.

Manager Don Mattingly tried to maintain calm in the clubhouse, downplaying the significance of the series finale Wednesday that could completely erase their lead.

"I'd rather be two games up when we leave here," Mattingly said. "But is there a significance to it? I don't know about that. Tomorrow's game is not going to make or break our season."

Three times Tuesday night the Dodgers had men on first and second against Ryan Vogelsong, including once, in the seventh inning, with one out. All three times, they failed to score.

Juan Rivera grounded out to end a threat in the first inning. Kershaw flied out to left field in the second. A.J. Ellis struck out and pinch-hitter James Loney flied out to center field in the seventh.

"I know my boys were trying," Mattingly said.

Vogelsong earned his second win of the season against Kershaw, as he held the Dodgers to seven hits and a walk in seven innings.

"Tonight, I blinked first and it cost us," Kershaw said.

Kershaw threw a fourth-inning slider to Melky Cabrera that ended up in the seats behind left-center field. The home run was the 11th Kershaw has served up this season. He gave up 15 last season when he won the Cy Young Award.

Later in the fourth inning, Kershaw gave up a run-scoring double to Pablo Sandoval that increased the Giants' lead to 2-0.

The defeat marked what could be turning points for Loney and third baseman Juan Uribe, who found themselves on the bench in the most important game of the season.

Already relegated to a platoon role, the left-handed-hitting Loney was benched even though the Dodgers were facing a right-handed starting pitcher. And it so happened that Loney was six for 12 in his career against the right-hander in question, Vogelsong.

Uribe had been one for three against Vogelsong, but he too sat.

"I have to try to find production, you know?" Mattingly said. "Personally, I like all our guys. But, I mean, between Juan and James at the corners, two power positions, I have three homers and 33 RBIs. With all that, we're still kind of in pretty good position. But we're not going to be able to sustain like this. We have to find production and it's just not happening.

"You have to produce. This is the big leagues. This is not instructional league, this is not coming through the minors and trying to prove yourself and the organization's going to be ultra patient because they feel like there's something at the end of the rainbow. It's tough. You're trying to win games."

Loney's place at first was taken by Rivera, a .261 hitter. Uribe's was taken by Elian Herrera, who was batting .264.

"I'm playing the guys who I feel are going to give us the best at-bats," Mattingly said. "I know there's some history there with James, but right now, it's just tough. Juan is struggling too. I think we're a little less defensively when we play this lineup, but right now, we're having trouble scoring runs and I've got to try to put the best offense out there."


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