CINCINNATI — — For the second time in three days, the Dodgers were forced to watch the opposing team celebrate.
When Hanley Ramirez grounded into a double play to seal a 6-0 defeat to the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday evening, the 41,117 fans at Great American Ball Park erupted. Matt Kemp sat motionless on the dugout bench, as the Reds gathered in front of the mound as the newly crowned National League Central champions.
Two days earlier, they witnessed the Washington Nationals secure their pass to the postseason.
This wasn't the Dodgers' idea of fun.
"No," Manager Don Mattingly said.
"No, not really," he said.
He paused again.
"Not at all," he said.
Contrary to what the final score might indicate, pitching wasn't a problem. Three of the Reds' six runs came in the eighth inning.
Rookie Stephen Fife was charged with two runs and five hits in five innings.
The Dodgers have lost 11 of their last 16 games, but their team earned-run average for that period is a solid 3.21. Despite giving up three earned runs in three innings on this evening, their bullpen has posted a 2.06 ERA over the last 15 games.
"Without them, we wouldn't even be close," catcher A.J. Ellis said of the pitching staff. "I'm really proud of those guys. Human nature would be to go out and try to put up a zero every inning and fail because of that. These guys have stayed the course, done their jobs. It's pretty impressive, their consistency and ability to come in night in and night out and put up zeros."
Broxton bounces back
Jonathan Broxton said he was sad when he left the Dodgers last winter and signed with the Kansas City Royals.
But on Saturday, the two-time All-Star was in a champagne-soaked clubhouse, a member of the NL Central champion Reds. He was heading back to the playoffs sooner than he had imagined.
"It's been unbelievable," Broxton said. "The whole process — having surgery, working my butt off this whole off-season."
The surgery, which was to remove bone spurs from his elbow, took place last September.
Broxton signed a one-year deal with the small-market Royals with the intention of re-establishing his value.
But Broxton's trademark fastball returned sooner than many expected. He touched 97 mph in spring training. Early in the season, he hit 100 mph.
The Reds acquired him at the July 31 trade deadline.
Broxton faced his former team Friday, pitching a scoreless ninth inning in an eventual Dodgers win.
He didn't recognize any of the hitters he faced: Adrian Gonzalez, Ramirez and Luis Cruz. None of them were on the Dodgers when he pitched for them.
"Maybe if I had faced someone like Kemp, it would have been a little more special," Broxton said.
Broxton will now set out to change his postseason reputation, which has been marked by meltdowns in two NL Championship Series with the Dodgers. Broxton said he learned from those experiences.
"You have to pitch every game like it's your last," Broxton said. "It's not over until it's over."
Hall of Fame manager Tom Lasorda turned 85 years old. … Gonzalez, who was one for three with a walk, has hit safely in his last six games. … Ellis is hitless in his last 28 at-bats.