Shane Victorino reacts to a strike at the plate during the 10th inning against… (Harry How / Getty Images )
Well, you can't blame this on James Loney.
The Dodgers scuffled to score when Loney was here, and much to their surprise now that they've rebuilt the lineup, they are still scuffling to score.
What's a team to do? Offense was identified as the main problem -- the factor that more than anything seemed to be holding the Dodgers back from being a clear postseason threat. And offense was the main area addressed prior to the non-waiver trading deadline.
The corners were weak, so they added Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez. They added them to Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the middle of the lineup, sat back and waited for fireworks. The kind that explode in the sky, not fizzle on the driveway.
Only the Dodgers can't seem to get the offense rolling, can't find a reliable attack. It's frustrating to have it happen during a stretch drive, and plain mystifying to have it be happening at all.
"A little bit," said Manager Don Mattingly. "I expected us to score a little more consistently. I definitely think we're better than this. I think we'll score more runs than this.
"But it seems left-handed pitching is really giving us trouble, and that mystifies me in itself because really some of our guys are veteran lefties [hitters] rather than righties. I really feel like we'll get it done; we're just going through a little stretch here."
Tuesday, they lost in extra innings. Prior to that they had played four consecutive one-run games. And before that, a pair of games decided by two runs.
"That's just the kind of games we're playing right now," said left-hander Clayton Kershaw. "Everything is close."
Tuesday, they did almost nothing with Eric Stults, the former Dodgers left-hander they sold to Japan and who is now with his third team in the last two years.
"We're having our trouble putting up runs," Mattingly said. "Stults, he can pitch and he's going to change speeds and keep the ball down and all that, but we have to do a better job."
Shane Victorino is 4-for-24 on the homestand. Gonzalez is hitting .239 as a Dodger. Kemp is 4-for-21 since running into the wall in Colorado on Aug. 28.
"He’s a little banged up," Mattingly said. "The shoulder is something I think is probably having some effect on what he's doing up there.
"He's going through a little stretch where he's struggling a bit."
Meanwhile, the offense sputters. And for the second consecutive game, Kershaw pitched extremely well and the Dodgers lose. That can't happen to a team with playoff ambitions.
"Every offense goes through this, whether you have the names we do or not," Kershaw said. "It feels like it's not coming easily for anyone right now. Obviously you have to have confidence in those guys. They have a pretty good track record."