Barry Zito threw 6 1/3 four-hit shutout innings. (Ben Margot / Associated…)
There was no great turnaround to their season, no statement made, no flag planted.
Just faded division title hopes, just more frustration and disappointment. More heads hung low.
Before the Dodgers even began their day, they learned they would be without scheduled starter Clayton Kershaw, scratched because of a sore hip.
Things did not get any better from there once the game began, the Dodgers unable to figure out the light-throwing Barry Zito and losing 4-0 to the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park.
That gave San Francisco two of three games in the series, and left the Dodgers 5 1/2 back of the division-leading Giants with 21 games left to play and 1 1/2 back of the St. Louis Cardinals for the National League’s second wild-card berth.
A series the Dodgers hoped would bring them closer to the Giants and headed toward an NL West title instead left them further behind and three more games gone from the schedule.
Kershaw is not seriously injured, but the Dodgers still elected to play it safe and not send him out and what would have been his biggest start of the season.
Kershaw, who has been playing with plantar fasciitis in his left foot since early June, said his hip first bothered him Friday. By Saturday he had an MRI exam and a cortisone injection.
Kershaw said he felt good enough to pitch, but the Dodgers weren’t of a mind to take chances with their reigning Cy Young Award winner. With no game scheduled Monday, they flopped him with Joe Blanton and scheduled Kershaw to start Tuesday in Phoenix, providing an additional two days of rest.
“I feel good enough to pitch,” said Kershaw before the game. “It’s not my decision.”
But Blanton got the call, and the Dodgers immediately fell behind. For the fifth time in their last six games, they have given up at least one run in the first inning. This after they got a leadoff double by Mark Ellis in the first and left him stranded.
In the bottom of the first, Angel Pagan led off with a single. He stole second and took third on Marco Scutaro’s groundout. After Pablo Sandoval somehow managed to actually work a walk, Blanton struck out Buster Posey.
But Hunter Pence lined a double to the wall in left-center field to drive in both runners and quickly put the Giants up, 2-0.
San Francisco added a run in the fifth when Pagan tripled and scored on a shallow sacrifice fly by Scutaro, and another in the sixth on a Posey home run.
Blanton again pitched just well enough to lose. In his 5 1/3 innings, he gave up four runs and six hits and two walks. In his seven starts as a Dodger, Blanton is 1-4 with a 6.25 earned-run average.
The Dodgers could do nothing with another soft-tossing starter. Zito, who in his last nine starts had a 6.17 ERA, kept lofting his stuff up there between 70 and 84 mph, and the Dodgers kept flailing away.
Zito (10-9) held the Dodgers scoreless and gave up four hits over 6 1/3 innings. Santiago Castilla, Jose Mijares, Guillermo Mota, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo completed the shutout.
The Dodgers continued to struggle for offense. In the three-game series, the Dodgers were one for 23 with runners in scoring position and left 27 runners on base.
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