SAN FRANCISCO — The Dodgers haven't scored in their last 30 innings. They have been shut out in three consecutive games. And their lead in the National League West vanished Wednesday, when the San Francisco Giants moved into a tie for first place with them by beating them at AT&T Park, 3-0.
Now, the free-falling team might lose All-Star outfielder Andre Ethier.
"You almost start laughing at it," catcherA.J. Ellissaid.
Ethier felt what he described as a "cramp or tight pinch" in his left rib cage when checking his swing to draw a first-inning walk against Tim Lincecum. He was removed from the game after Juan Rivera grounded into an inning-ending double play.
"It just didn't get any better," said Ethier, who ranks second in the NL with 55 runs batted in.
Ethier and trainer Sue Falsone said they wouldn't know if he would have to be put on the disabled list until he underwent an MRI exam Thursday. But if Ethier is sidelined, he figures to be out awhile: Position players usually take about a month to recover from oblique muscle strains.
Ethier's injury comes at a time when fellow All-Star Matt Kemp is believed to be a couple of weeks from returning from the disabled list and the Dodgers are in the midst of a historically bad run.
This marked the first time in franchise history that the Dodgers were swept by the Giants and shut out in all three games. Aside from the 1966 World Series against Baltimore, the last time they were blanked by the same team three consecutive times was in 1937 when the Boston Braves did it to them. The 30-innning scoreless streak is tied for the seventh-longest in Dodgers history.
The Dodgers blew a lead over the Giants that was at 4 1/2 games a week earlier and at 7 1/2 games as recently as May 27. They lost eight of nine games on a trip that also included visits to Oakland and Anaheim.
"It's hard to say I see a whole lot," Manager Don Mattingly said. "Right now, we're not doing enough to score a run."
The Dodgers' latest setback served as a confidence builder for Lincecum, a two-time Cy Young Award winner who entered the game with a 2-8 record and a 6.07 earned-run average. Lincecum earned his first victory in 11 starts, limiting the Dodgers to four hits and two walks over seven scoreless innings.
Ethier was hopeful he could return soon to help the Dodgers emerge from their rut.
"Maybe this is one of the bullets we can dodge," Ethier said.
He wanted to play catch at his defensive station in right field in the bottom of the first inning, but Mattingly wouldn't let him.
"It was precautionary," Ethier said.
Of the Dodgers' 45 home runs, 22 have been hit by Ethier or Kemp, who has been sidelined since May 31 because of a strained left hamstring.
If Ethier and Kemp are sidelined for the start of a three-game series against the New York Mets on Thursday at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers' top home run hitter will be A.J. Ellis, with six.
A visibly frustrated Mattingly didn't sound as if he expected the Dodgers to acquire offensive reinforcements in the near future, even if Ethier can't play.
"At this point, it's hard to get help," Mattingly said. "You can say you're going to go outside and try to get help, but everybody in baseball knows you need help. At that point, there's nowhere to go."