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MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Poor execution sinks Dodgers in 2-1 loss to Giants

Two sacrifice bunts backfire, with one turning into a double play in seventh inning. Clayton Kershaw's 10-decision winning streak comes to an end.

May 08, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

Certain aspects of baseball never change, which is part of the game's charm.

Players today are as superstitious as they were in the days of Babe Ruth. Pitchers still drill opposing hitters in retaliation if a batter from their team is hit. Rookies continue to be hazed.

Then there's the sacrifice bunt.

There is statistical research indicating the tactic is counterproductive, but teams continue to use it. Teams such as the Dodgers.

The Dodgers tried two late-inning sacrifice bunts Tuesday night, one that resulted in a double play in the seventh inning and another that took the bat out of Matt Kemp's hands in the eighth. Defeated by probability, the Dodgers were defeated by the San Francisco Giants, 2-1.

The loss was Clayton Kershaw's first at Dodger Stadium since he dropped a decision to the St. Louis Cardinals on April 16, 2011. His run of 12 consecutive home wins was the most in Dodger Stadium history.

Manager Don Mattingly defended his decision to have Juan Uribe and Mark Ellis try to bunt with men on first and second and no outs in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively.

"I wouldn't really change anything," Mattingly said. "We just have to execute, that's all."

The Dodgers were trailing, 2-1, when Uribe's bunt died directly in front of catcher Buster Posey. Juan Rivera was thrown out at third base and Uribe at first. A.J. Ellis popped up to end the inning.

Rivera felt something in the back of his left leg on the double play and exited the game. He will undergo an MRI exam Wednesday.

In the eighth inning, the Dodgers had two men on. Mark Ellis bunted over Bobby Abreu and Dee Gordon, leaving first base open. The Giants countered by intentionally walking Kemp. Manager Bruce Bochy called on left-hander Javier Lopez to face the left-handed-hitting Andre Ethier, who grounded into an inning-ending double play.

"They have to pick between Matt and Andre," Mattingly said. "If I can get Andre up there with the bases loaded, I'll take it every day."

Ethier began the game as the major league leader in runs batted in with 30. He was also hitting .292 against left-handers.

"The way I look at it, I don't even have to have a hit there," Mattingly said. "I just have to have a ball in the air."

Asked if he gave any credence to the thinking that the sacrifice bunt is ineffective, Mattingly replied, "You can write it however you want. I'm going to bunt the guys over and put my best two RBI guys up there and make them make a choice."

For Kershaw, the defeat also marked the end of his 10-decision winning streak. His last loss came Aug. 13, 2011, in Arizona.

Kershaw (2-1) made only one mistake, a high 93-mph fastball that Brett Pill hit over the left-field wall in the second inning for a two-run home run.

Starter Ryan Vogelsong (1-2) held the Dodgers to a run and eight hits over 71/3 innings.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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