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Dodgers continue to play the mild card

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Offense falters again and L.A. falls two games behind in the race for a playoff spot.

September 14, 2012|By Bill Shaikin

The last time the Dodgers scored more than three runs in a game?

Would you believe 11 days ago?

For the third consecutive night, the Dodgers had a chance to tie the St. Louis Cardinals for the second and final wild-card spot in the National League. For the third consecutive night, the Dodgers failed.

The Dodgers' offense failed, that is. In the opener of a four-game series that could severely wound their playoff hopes, the Dodgers suffered a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals on Thursday.

The scores of the Dodgers' last three games: 1-0, 3-2, 2-1.

"A lot of the same game, over and over," Manager Don Mattingly said. "We've got to get over the hump. I don't know how to identify where the hump is, but we've got to get over it."

The Dodgers' clubhouse was closed for a few extra minutes after the game, as President Stan Kasten met with Mattingly in his office for what the manager said was a pick-me-up session. Mattingly said he is concerned his players might be losing confidence.

"That's the toughest thing right now," Mattingly said, "coming in here feeling like you're going to win that night. That's the battle you keep fighting."

The Dodgers have scored 25 runs this month, the fewest in the major leagues. The San Francisco Giants, sans Melky Cabrera, have scored 62. The San Diego Padres — the Padres! — have scored 63.

"That's baseball. I'm not baffled," Matt Kemp said. "People go through times when they don't hit. It just so happens that not really any of us are hitting."

The Dodgers dropped two games behind St. Louis in the wild-card standings, with a crowd in the rearview mirror. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Milwaukee Brewers and Philadelphia Phillies all are within two games of the Dodgers, meaning the Dodgers are as close to fifth place as they are to first in that wild-card derby.

The Cardinals demoted All-Star Lance Lynn to the bullpen last month, then retrieved him for a start Thursday. The Dodgers managed one run and five hits off him in six innings.

Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez, who was pitching for the University of Florida last spring, took his first major league loss in his third major league game.

The Dodgers did not resemble a playoff-caliber team.

In the first inning, with two on and none out, Kemp grounded into a double play. In the fourth, Kemp was thrown out trying to steal as Adrian Gonzalez struck out — another double play.

In the second inning, the Dodgers briefly left third base uncovered as a runner headed there. In the eighth inning, Dee Gordon entered as a pinch-runner and was promptly thrown out trying to steal second.

On the mound, Josh Beckett held the Cardinals to one run in 51/3 innings. The Dodgers' fortunes were better reflected when he batted — and hit an apparent single, a line drive to right field, only to be thrown out at first base by Carlos Beltran.

"Everybody who has been around this game for a while knows I'm pretty slow," Beckett said.

bill.shaikin@latimes.com

twitter.com/BillShaikin

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