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Brandon League struggles, but so does most of the Dodgers' bullpen

League started the season as the Dodgers' closer, but he has foundered of late, giving up some costly big hits. To make matters worse, Dodgers relievers as a whole have been ineffective.

May 21, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez

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MILWAUKEE — Asked on Tuesday who was the Dodgers' closer, Manager Don Mattingly replied, "I don't know."

Brandon League, who started the season in that role, is foundering.

League has blown two saves and lost two other games in his last nine appearances. His earned-run average in that span was 7.71 and opponents batted .378 against him.

But League said his problems aren't similar to the ones that cost him his job as the Seattle Mariners' closer early last season.

"I feel great," League said.

During a nine-game stretch from April 30 to May 25 of last season, League posted an ERA of 8.31. A mechanical issue resulted in his losing command and walking eight batters in 81/3 innings.

League fixed those problems upon coming with the Dodgers in a midseason trade. He said the issues haven't resurfaced, a claim supported by the numbers. In his last nine games leading up to Tuesday, he walked four batters in 91/3 innings.

League's main problem now is that he can't avoid giving up the big hit.

He gave up a walk-off home run in a loss at San Francisco on May 4. He gave up a ninth-inning home run in a loss at home to Arizona three days later.

"It's pretty much the same thing every time," League said.

He's throwing strikes, but too many of them are hittable.

League's latest loss came Sunday in Atlanta. He entered the game with the bases loaded in the eighth inning with the Dodgers ahead, 2-1.

He tried to get Gerald Laird to ground into a double play. Instead, he gave up a run-scoring single to right-center field.

"My sinker didn't sink," League said.

The Braves scored three more runs against him that inning.

League is baffled by the struggles of the entire bullpen.

"We're struggling as a whole," he said. "That's what's making it magnified. Usually you have one guy that's not on point and you have the rest of the 'pen to pick him up."

Injury updates

Hanley Ramirez, sidelined by a strained hamstring, sprinted in the outfield before the game under the watch of the medical staff. He is expected to be out for a couple of more weeks. Mattingly said the team hasn't started discussing plans for him to go on a minor league rehabilitation assignment.

Meanwhile, it appears as if left-hander Scott Elbert could be reinstated from the disabled list next week. Elbert has been sidelined for the entire season recovering from two off-season elbow operations.

Elbert will pitch in three minor league games in four days; he will pitch Thursday, Saturday and face a batter on Sunday.

Short hops

Mark Ellis was given a day off. Skip Schumaker started in his place at second base. … Catcher A.J. Ellis is scheduled to rest the series finale in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Ramon Hernandez, who is batting .045 and hasn't played since May 7, will start in his place.

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

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