- Mark Saxon, ESPN Staff Writer
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LOS ANGELES -- More than halfway through their season, the Los Angeles Dodgers still haven't won four games in a row.
Going into Friday night's game with the St. Louis Cardinals they were 0-for-5 in games coming after a three-game winning streak. After Friday night's 3-1 loss, make that 0-for-6. A win would have brought the Dodgers to within one game of the San Francisco Giants, as close as they've been since May 1.
How it happened: Hyun-Jin Ryu wasn't the problem. He managed to pitch around nine hits and give the Dodgers seven strong innings, striking out seven batters, but one well-placed Jhonny Peralta hit did him and the Dodgers in. Peralta hit a slicing drive to right-center, splitting the gap between Scott Van Slyke and Yasiel Puig and driving in two fifth-inning runs.
The Dodgers have struggled at times with pitchers with explosive fastballs, and Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez certainly has one of those. Martinez reached 100 mph pitching to Van Slyke in the first inning. The Dodgers had plenty of action -- six hits and three walks -- but could score only one run off Martinez. The Cardinals' bullpen proved equally stifling.
Hits: It would be a nice story if Dee Gordon got picked for the All-Star team. He went to the game several times with his father, Tom, who was a very good relief pitcher in the 1990s and early 2000s and, besides, Dee Gordon really wants to go. He's making a push lately, batting .410 with three triples and seven walks in his past 11 games. He did his best to spark some offense, driving in a second-inning run with a single to right, but the hitters behind him stranded him three times.
Misses: The Dodgers have been hurting lately for production from their center fielders. Don Mattingly told reporters before the game that Andre Ethier, who has one extra-base hit all month, is dealing with an assortment of bumps and bruises. He has a sore right knee and a callous on his right palm. And Van Slyke has cooled off a bit, batting .231 with one extra-base hit and eight strikeouts in his past 10 games. He took his first career ejection for arguing a called third strike with umpire Bill Miller in the sixth inning. For now, the Dodgers are without other options. They don't want to put Matt Kemp back in center and top prospect Joc Pederson is on the disabled list in Triple-A because of a shoulder injury.
Stat of the game: The Dodgers have starting pitchers with excellent command, but lately they have taken it to another level. No Dodgers starter has walked more than two batters in a start in the team's past 31 games. That ties the 1990 Pittsburgh Pirates for the longest such streak since 1914.
Up next: The teams continue their four-game series with two of the better No. 2 starters in the league hooking up. The Cardinals have announced that Lance Lynn (8-5, 2.90 ERA) will pitch for them. Zack Greinke (9-4, 2.89 ERA) will go for the Dodgers. The game starts at 4:15 p.m. PT.