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Dodgers' offense sputters in 4-2 loss at San Diego

They have only five hits with backups in the lineup and Chris Capuano suffers first loss in six decisions.

May 16, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez

SAN DIEGO — Twelve more days until Matt Kemp is eligible to return from the disabled list.

If the Dodgers' 4-2 defeat to the San Diego Padres on Wednesday was any indication, they could be the 12 longest days of the season.

With Kemp unavailable and Manager Don Mattingly fielding what look like triple-A lineups, the Dodgers have scored a combined three runs in their last two games, both losses.

Chris Capuano (5-1) left two pitches up in the strikezone to Chase Headley and that was enough to send him tumbling to his first defeat of the season.

"We're not good enough to come down here, get four hits and expect to win a game," Mattingly said.

The Dodgers' hit total was, in fact, five. Of them, two came in their first two at-bats, a single by leadoff hitter Tony Gwynn Jr. and a run-scoring double by 27-year-old rookie utilityman Elian Herrera. The Dodgers scored two runs in that inning and did nothing of consequence the remainder of the game.

Andre Ethier, who drove in his National League-leading 34th run, was the only opening-day starter in the lineup. With the Dodgers facing a left-hander in Clayton Richard (2-5), Mattingly sat the left-handed-hitting Dee Gordon and James Loney. Mark Ellis and A.J. Ellis were given days off.

But the Dodgers don't have depth and they don't have much of a farm system.

Herrera started his first major league game, playing second base and batting second. Two other starters were called up from triple-A Albuquerque in the last week: shortstop Justin Sellers and first baseman Jerry Sands.

"That's what other teams have when they have guys down," Mattingly said.

Juan Rivera and Juan Uribe are on the disabled list. So is utilityman Jerry Hairston Jr.

"We're probably lucky, still," Mattingly said. "We've got it, but we don't have major. We've got temporary."

And they're still 24-13.

Capuano, who entered the game with a 2.06 earned-run average, seemed upbeat considering what happened.

"For the most part, I felt pretty good," Capuano said.

A high fastball he threw to Headley in the first inning was sent over the left-field wall, reducing the Dodgers lead to 2-1.

That lead turned into a 3-2 deficit in the sixth inning, when Capuano left a changeup up in the zone that Headley clobbered into left-center field for a two-run double.

Capuano was charged with four runs (three earned) and six hits in 61/3 innings.

But in the Dodgers' collective defeat, there was a personal triumph.

Herrera, who was in his 10th season in the Dodgers minor league system, collected his first hit and first run batted in, in the first inning.

Signed out of a week-long tryout camp in 2003, Herrera spent three years at the Dodgers' academy in his native Dominican Republic. His experience was similar to that of many of his countrymen who come to the United States to pursue a career in baseball: he couldn't speak English, he lived with host families, he was homesick.

He was with the Dodgers' triple-A affiliate Monday when the manager called the team together. In front of his teammates, Herrera was told he had been called up by the Dodgers.

"It was incredible," he said. "It was something I always dreamed about."

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