LOS ANGELES -- Carlos Ruiz hit a tiebreaking two-run double off Brian Wilson in the ninth inning, Marlon Byrd drove in four runs and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 7-3 on Thursday night.
Adrian Gonzalez -- whose fielding error in the fifth led to two runs -- had tied the game 3-all in the seventh before Philadelphia scored four in the ninth.
Ruiz regained the lead for the Phillies when he lined a 3-2 pitch down the right field line with one out after singles by Cody Asche and Ben Revere. Byrd greeted Jamey Wright with a bases-loaded two-run single after Wilson (0-2) intentionally walked Chase Utley and hit Ryan Howard with a pitch.
Mike Adams (1-0), , making his third appearance after undergoing shoulder surgery last July 31 and missing the first two weeks of the season, pitched two innings for the victory despite allowing Gonzalez's homer.
LOS ANGELES – One of the least-heralded aspects of the Dodgers' turnaround in 2013 was the two-man tandem of Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen shutting down the last two innings for opposing teams in those final months.
Now, the Dodgers are having to scramble to keep from burning their closer out before the calendar turns to May, and they’re wondering how much they’re going to get from their $10 million setup man. Jansen, who leads the major leagues in appearances, got the night off and Wilson had another meltdown to cost the Dodgers a 7-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday night.
How it happened: The Phillies kept pecking at Dan Haren throughout the evening, but the one inning they actually got to him, the fifth, it was thanks to another Dodgers error, the bane of this young season. The Dodgers had a frustrating evening at the plate, stranding runners all over the place, but Adrian Gonzalez homered deep to center to tie it in the seventh. Then, Wilson gave up four ninth-inning runs to spoil the little comeback.
Hits: Juan Uribe came off a hot road trip and hit the skids in L.A., going 2-for-20 on the homestand heading into Thursday. Then, his bat erupted again. He was 3-for-4 and launched his fourth home run, a two-run shot, the only time the Dodgers could cash in against Kyle Kendrick though they managed 10 hits off the Philadelphia right-hander. Uribe’s bat has been a big, pleasant surprise this month.
Misses: The Dodgers’ bad fielding has become their biggest problem. One of the least likely players to make an error, Gonzalez, helped usher in two unearned runs in the fifth inning with his misplay of a Chase Utley grounder.
Stat of the game: Andre Ethier has built himself a nice little niche as the only Dodger capable of playing all three outfield spots well, but he’ll have to hit soon to keep getting this much playing time. Ethier went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, his batting average slipping under the .200 mark to .194.
Up next: The Dodgers play the Colorado Rockies for the first time this season, with Josh Beckett pitching for the Dodgers and Jordan Lyles going for Colorado. The game is scheduled for 7:10 p.m.
Yasiel Puig and Andre Ethier each have started 17 games. Matt Kemp has started 14 and Carl Crawford has started 14, but they were both out for the start of the season.
The only real lesson so far -- and it's, of course, far too early to draw any sweeping conclusions -- is that the Dodgers have a better defensive look with Ethier in center field than Kemp. They're also 6-2 when Ethier starts in center and 7-7 when Kemp starts there.
Mattingly isn't sure whether the four-player logjam is leading to the players' relative lack of production (Puig is the only one of the four batting better than .250), but he's sure it's not an ideal situation for him when it comes to having a good rapport with his players. He admitted doling out playing time has been a bit more stressful than he thought it would.
"I hadn't had to deal with it, really, until now," Mattingly said. "It does cause you [stress] a little bit. It's not so much hurt feelings as that you want everybody in the mix. It's that understanding that we're talking about four guys who have had, to this point, quality careers. You can't just throw those aside. I assume every time their name's not in the lineup, they're not necessarily happy about it."
He said "there will come a day" when he will lock in something closer to an everyday lineup, but for now the sample size is too small to make any hard evaluations.
Mattingly said it was difficult to leave Kemp out of the lineup Thursday after he hit two doubles in Wednesday's game. The difference is the Phillies were going with a righty -- Kyle Kendrick, instead of a lefty, Cole Hamels -- prompting Mattingly to use both left-handed hitters, Ethier and Crawford.
In fact, I'm not sure why the "earned runs" definition is applied there -- Greinke hasn't allowed more than two runs, earned or not, in any of those games. More impressively, he started three postseason games last year and allowed two runs in each of those, so we're really talking about 20 consecutive starts allowing two runs or fewer.
From ESPN Stats & Information, his MLB ranks since July 30:
Wins: 11 (tied for first)
ERA: 1.82 (fourth)
WHIP: 0.95 (third)
K/BB: 5.7 (fifth)
Chase pct.: 33.9 (third)
Including his three playoff starts, batters are hitting .204 against Greinke during this stretch, including .141 against his slider. Most impressive, however, may be his ability to rack up strikeouts with his fastball, a testament to the great movement he gets on it. He has 57 strikeouts and 10 walks in plate appearances ending in fastballs since July 30. Compare that to some other pitchers in that time (regular season only): Clayton Kershaw (21 strikeouts, 15 walks), Yu Darvish (31 and 24), Jose Fernandez (26 and 12), Stephen Strasburg (27 and 20), James Shields (29 and 28), Adam Wainwright (27 and 18), Justin Verlander (43 and 26).
Obviously, that list was chosen to make Greinke look good -- David Price is 61 and 9, for example -- but you get the point: Greinke doesn't use his fastball just to set up his other pitches. And considering he has that great slider, a plus curveball and a good changeup with command of all four pitches and you can see why Kershaw may be fighting for best-pitcher-on-his-own-team honors when he returns from the DL.
Other thoughts and links ...
- Mark Saxon on the Dodgers' defense, which has been a problem so far.
- Grantland's Jonah Keri on why 2014 is looking a lot like 1968. That was the year Bob Gibson had his 1.12 ERA. His longest stretch of games allowing two runs or fewer came June 6 to July 30: 11 starts, 11 complete games, eight shutouts, three runs total (he didn't allow more than one run in those starts). The Cubs finally broke through with five runs against him on Aug. 4. Of course, Gibson pitched 11 innings that day.
- Jose Abreu continues to impress, hitting his seventh home run. So much for him needing some transition time to the majors. Marcus Semien's grand slam off Ian Krol in the seventh lifted the White Sox to the 6-4 victory over the Tigers. Here's the impressive thing about Abreu's power: Five of the seven home runs have come to center field (give or take). He's also hit all pitches; while three came on pitches down the middle, three came on pitches low in the strike zone and one came on a high and outside fastball. He has 21 strikeouts and eight walks and if he can reign in some of his chasing -- he's swung at 34 percent of pitches out of the zone -- he's going to be even more of a monster.
- The Giants salvaged the final game of their series in Colorado as Hector Sanchez hit a grand slam in the 11th. Mike Morse joined Sanchez with two home runs and were both huge blasts, going 458 and 450 feet. Since 2006, when ESPN began tracking home run distance, Morse is just the third player with two 450-foot shots in one game, joining Edwin Encarnacion (May 21, 2010) and Mike Napoli (May 1, 2013). Morse has five home runs, as many as Giants left fielders hit all last season.
- Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon continues to have the April of his life: He went 2-for-5, scored four runs and drove in three and is hitting .410/.453/.692. Idea on how to solve all the hitting woes these days: More games at Coors Field!
- The Rangers finished off an impressive sweep of the A's in Oakland as Martin Perez spun a three-hit shutout -- his second shutout in a row, extending his scoreless innings streak to 26. I like this quote from Perez: "I don't want to think too much about my ERA and the games that I've thrown before. I'm going to focus on my game today. We had a great game." The Rangers, despite having used the DL more than any club, despite a makeshift lineup on Wednesday that included Michael Choice hitting leadoff, Donnie Murphy playing second and Josh Wilson playing third, despite Prince Fielder hitting .200 and Adrian Beltre sitting on the DL, have the best record in the American League. Amazingly, they're 14-8 even though they've been outscored by one run. Baseball.
Just make the routine plays. That simple.
As this first month of Dodgers baseball has played out -- remember, the season started way back on March 22, way over in Australia -- you can sometimes find yourself wondering whether this team is so good in two phases of the game as to make the third practically irrelevant. You can also find yourself wondering whether the third, at some critical point, might undo all the good the first two compiled.
Apparently, Mattingly spends some time in both schools, because he has continued to express frustration at his team's sloppy fielding, though he was given a respite in the Dodgers' fairly routine 5-2 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
As long as the Dodgers keep Hanley Ramirez at shortstop and Matt Kemp in center field, they probably are going to be a below-average defensive team. They've both been doing this for a while, after all, and the defensive metrics, new and old, haven't treated them kindly in, roughly, forever.
Only one major-league shortstop, Washington's Ian Desmond, has made more errors than Ramirez's five and those only hint at his general ineffectiveness. Every double play could prove an adventure this season.
According to UZR, one of the more widely followed defensive stats nowadays, Kemp is having his worst season as a center fielder since 2006 and he has been below average in all but two of his big league seasons.
The Dodgers, though, are 13-9 with the best pitcher in baseball on the shelf for a month and a glut of star-caliber outfielders and Ramirez all bouncing around the Mendoza line, so how can that be?
They're that good at pitching, good enough to do what few pitchers want to do -- work around their fielders at times. Without anyone making much of it, Zack Greinke (4-0, 2.45 ERA) has been just as good as Kershaw probably would have been, making himself into a swing-and-miss machine once again, and the other main starters -- Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-1, 2.12), Dan Haren (3-0, 2.16 ERA) and Josh Beckett (0-0, 2.57 ERA) -- haven't been too far behind.
And here's what should be scary for this team's opponents: They're probably that good at hitting, too, even if they're just beginning to show it. Five-eighths of their position-player lineup has been slumping on any given night and they've kept cruising along, pulled by Dee Gordon's speed, Adrian Gonzalez's consistency and Juan Uribe's streak.
Now, some other cylinders are starting to fire. Ramirez's hand must be feeling better. He says his swing is. He roped a double into the left-field corner and lifted a two-foot high pitch over the center-field wall. Kemp smacked a pair of doubles. Yasiel Puig yanked an RBI single through the hole and hit a soaring RBI triple. So, yeah, they're coming.
"We're going to be a better club if we get more consistency with our big boys, that's for sure," Mattingly said.
This team might never hit on all cylinders, because one of them seems capable of misfiring consistently for the rest of the summer. This is more of a raw horsepower than a precision team anyway. At least for now, there's no reason to doubt the formula. People will fret about how different things can get in October, but it seems a bit frivolous to worry about such things before the first of May.
LOS ANGELES -- Zack Greinke outpitched Cole Hamels with seven strong innings, Hanley Ramirez homered and Yasiel Puig drove in two runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers in a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday night.
Greinke (4-0) allowed two runs and five hits while striking out 11 and walking one batter intentionally.
Manager Don Mattingly tried to squeeze one more inning out of Greinke, but lifted him after Jayson Nix drove the right-hander's 108th pitch to left-center for a leadoff homer.
J.P. Howell got three outs in the eighth, and Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his eighth save after the Dodgers picked up a couple of insurance runs in the eighth on Ramirez's leadoff homer to center and Justin Turner's RBI single off Shawn Camp.
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers had hit a little patch of listlessness, their offense in a funk and their fielding borderline embarrassing.
But you don’t count out a team with Clayton Kershaw, who could be back on a major league mound within two weeks. Not when he’s backed up like this. Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Greinke and Dan Haren have all pitched like aces in Kershaw’s absence, allowing the Dodgers to power on through choppy water.
The three veterans have given the Dodgers everything Kershaw would have, with the key exception of length.
How it happened: The Dodgers had played three extra-inning games in eight days and their bullpen was as taxed as any in baseball. Closer Kenley Jansen, for example, leads the majors with 15 appearances.
Greinke did what you want your de-facto ace to do, he restored order in a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium. Using his usual palette of different speeds and locations, he had the Phillies guessing and off-balance all night.
Greinke (4-0) struck out 11 batters over seven innings, holding the Phillies to five hits. He took the mound in the eighth inning, but didn't stay there long, chased by a home run from pinch hitter Jayson Nix.
Hits: It seems only fair to grant Matt Kemp a little leeway to get his timing down after missing so many games the past couple of seasons. But now would be a good time for him to get in gear if he wants to establish himself as the everyday player he says he is. Kemp entered the game batting .196, but was the only early signs of offense against Cole Hamels, smacking doubles in his first two at-bats and scoring the Dodgers’ first run.
Misses: It seemed as though Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was talking about Hanley Ramirez when he said of the team's overall weak fielding before the game, “Your range is your range, but you can always be in the right spot. To be a solid defensive player, all you have to do is want to be that.” It continues to be a struggle at shortstop for Ramirez. He contributed to the Phillies’ run in the fourth inning. He had a clear shot at Jimmy Rollins at third base after fielding Chase Utley's grounder, but elected to take the easy out at first. Rollins scored seconds later on Ryan Howard's single into left field. On the other hand, Ramirez's bat finally got going. He doubled and homered (deep to center) in his last two at-bats.
Stat of the game: Greinke has worked five innings or more and allowed two runs or fewer in 17 consecutive starts. He's the first to have done that since modern record-keeping began in 1914.
Up next: The Dodgers complete the four-game series with the Phillies on Thursday night at 7:10 p.m., Dan Haren (3-2, 2.16 ERA) pitching for the Dodgers opposite Kyle Kendrick (0-2, 3.60).
Kershaw will start his minor league rehabilitation assignment Friday at Class A Rancho Cucamonga, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly announced Wednesday, and will make at least one other minor league start before the team decides whether to activate him from the 15-day disabled list.
Kershaw made just one regular-season start, a strong 6 2/3 innings March 22 against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Australia, before going on the 15-day disabled list with a strained teres major muscle in his upper back.
Mattingly wouldn't commit to how many rehab starts Kershaw would make before coming back, saying, "We'll just go one at a time and see. More than one, for sure."
Kershaw has been steadily throwing bullpen sessions for more than a week and threw a 55-pitch simulated game Sunday at Dodger Stadium, so he likely won't have to build up his arm strength as extensively as he would if this were spring training. He made just four spring training starts this year because of the Dodgers' trip to Australia but normally would make as many as seven.
Mattingly said Kershaw will be under no restrictions in Rancho Cucamonga other than a pitch limit of around 60.
"I don't think anybody's going to let him go out if we weren't allowing him to just go pitch," Mattingly said. "He hasn't felt anything since that one day. There's been no day in there that he's felt anything throwing a baseball."
If Kershaw returns after two minor league games, he likely will rejoin the Dodgers' rotation during a May 5-7 trip to Washington.
"The plays that you're supposed to make, you've got to make," he said. "Simple as that."
That enabled Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz to motor into second base, and Crawford was quickly charged with the error since the ball had gone off his chest after he bumped into Ramirez. One batter later, Dominic Brown smashed a double into left-center field for a 3-2 lead, and that would be enough to send the Dodgers to their fourth extra-inning loss in the past two weeks.
Mattingly said defensive mistakes have "become a frustration," and he spent time before the past two games trying to relay that message to the players.
"We've had a number of balls that probably should have been caught [this season]," Mattingly said. "We're not going to do anything if we don't play better defense."
Ramirez and Crawford were involved in two other defensive miscues during the game. Ramirez, who had an error from a game last week rescinded earlier in the day, committed his fifth error of the season on a routine grounder in the second inning, and Crawford couldn't come down with a deep drive at the fence in the fourth, resulting in a triple for Ruiz.
Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu managed to escape those innings without any runs scoring, but those types of miscues still have an impact on a game, Mattingly said.
"It always costs you something, whether it costs you more pitches, if it's causing you to lose extra guys out of the bullpen," he said. "It can't continue or we're not going to go where we need to go."
There was some good news after the game, as second baseman Dee Gordon, whose speed helped the Dodgers tie the score in the seventh inning, left the game not long after he bumped his head on a head-first slide into third.
Gordon said after the game he passed a concussion test, though the left-handed hitter might sit Wednesday anyway since the Dodgers are facing a left-handed pitcher in Cole Hamels.
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers ended a 15-inning scoreless streak Tuesday night against the visiting Philadelphia Phillies, but they couldn’t accomplish much else.
The Dodgers played their fifth extra-inning game in the last two weeks and lost their fourth straight, this time on an unearned run in the 10th that resulted in a 3-2 victory by the Phillies at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers entered the day leading the majors in strikeouts and 25th in both hitting (.236) and on-base percentage (.303). Now they have scored two runs or less in six of the last eight games.
How it happened: Carlos Ruiz’s high pop fly into shallow left field in the 10th dropped to the grass after shortstop Hanley Ramirez and left-fielder Carl Crawford failed to communicate and collided. Crawford, who had mistimed his leap at the wall earlier in the game (resulting in a triple for Ruiz), was credited with the error because the ball caromed off his chest. Domonic Brown then came up off left-hander J.P. Howell and lined a double into the gap in left-center, driving in the go-head run.
Hits: Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, who has emerged as the team’s most productive hitter this month, collected his second hit of the game in the seventh. It was a routine one-out single up the middle for most players, but Gordon went into overdrive right out of the box and beat Marlon Byrd’s off-balance throw into second base. Gordon then stole third with another head-first slide. Philadelphia pitcher A.J. Burnett looked like he might get out of the jam when he struck out catcher Tim Federowicz. With the pitcher’s spot coming up in the batting order and no available left-handed hitters on the bench, the Dodgers were forced to go with utility infielder Justin Turner, who spotted a Burnett curveball left over the plate and rolled it into left field to tie the score at 2-2.
Stat of the game: Burnett did more than just flummox the Dodgers for 6 2/3 innings on the mound; he had a career-high three base hits.
Up next: The Dodgers and Phillies will meet for the third time in their four-game series Wednesday night as three-time All Star left-hander Cole Hamels of the Phillies will make his season debut against unbeaten right-hander Zack Greinke of the Dodgers, the 2009 Cy Young Award winner.
LOS ANGELES -- Domonic Brown doubled home the go-ahead run in the 10th inning after a costly error by left fielder Carl Crawford, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-2 on Tuesday night.
Carlos Ruiz reached second base when his flyball to short left field glanced off Crawford's glove as shortstop Hanley Ramirez nearly collided with the left fielder. Brown followed with a drive to the fence in left-center on a 1-1 pitch from J.P. Howell (1-2).
They’re on track to establish another mark as they prepare to host the Philadelphia Phillies in the second game of their four-game series Tuesday night, one they’d rather not add to the ledger.
One-eighth of the way through this season, the Dodgers have struck out a major-league leading 187 times, or an average of 9.35 times per nine innings. Projected over a 162-game regular season, Los Angeles is on pace with the National League strikeout record of 1,529, established by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2010, a team that finished 65-97.
And the Dodgers don’t seem to be coming up with any remedies.
They struck 11 more times in Monday’s 7-0 loss to the Phillies, the third time in the last four games they’ve taken at least 11 slow walks back to the dugout, and tonight will face savvy right-hander A.J. Burnett, who fanned nine Dodgers in 5 1/3 innings of a 1-0 loss last season while pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates on Opening Day at Dodger Stadium. Burnett also brings a major-league leading 16 walks into this game, so plate discipline will be key.
The increase in strikeouts is a major change from last season, when only six teams were tougher to strike out than the Dodgers, including just two in the NL.
Arizona left-hander Wade Miley isn’t considered a strikeout pitcher by any means, but he has combined to fan 20 Dodgers in three starts covering 16 innings this season. Trevor Cahill, banished to the Arizona bullpen after his 0-4 start, has still managed to strike out 14 Dodgers in 12 innings.
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, trying to regain his stroke after two injury-plagued seasons followed his near-Triple Crown campaign of 2011, has struck out 17 times in 54 plate appearances and patience may be winding thin with manager Don Mattingly, as the Dodgers are already overloaded with skilled outfielders.
The trickle-down effect has left the Dodgers 25th in the majors in both hitting (.236) and on-base percentage (.303), and their batting average dips to .209 after the sixth inning. They’re three games ahead of their 20-game record last spring, but their 12-8 mark is also a bit misleading, as seven of those wins have come against the Diamondbacks, owners of the worst record in baseball.
LOS ANGELES -- Cliff Lee scattered four hits over eight innings, struck out 10 and retired 21 of his last 22 batters to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 7-0 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night.
Lee (3-2) had at least one strikeout in every inning he pitched and did not walk a batter, giving way to Jeff Manship after 113 pitches.
Lee has 38 strikeouts and two walks through his first five starts, after leading the majors in strikeout to-walk ratio and fewest walks per nine innings during each of the previous two seasons.
SAN FRANCISCO -- A man accused of throwing a firework into a crowd during a Dodgers-Giants game at San Francisco's AT&T Park has pleaded not guilty.
The San Francisco district attorney's office says 21-year-old Paola Pavone is due back in court Friday after entering the plea last week. Pavone is charged with felony possession of a destructive device in a public place, felony possession of combustible material and misdemeanor discharging dangerous fireworks.
A message seeking comment was left for Pavone's attorney Monday afternoon.
Police say several people suffered minor injuries when Pavone threw the firework into a group of people near a concession stand during the game on Wednesday.
The injuries included dizziness and temporary loss of hearing.