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Wednesday, August 22, 2012
The Dodgers' lefty-on-lefty problem

By Mark Saxon

LOS ANGELES -- One reason the Dodgers have had difficulty rallying lately is that other teams find it so easy to manage their bullpens against the Dodgers.

If they have a left-handed specialist, they save him for Andre Ethier's most meaningful at-bat and Ethier has been unable to do anything about it. Ethier has always struggled against left-handed pitchers, but it has been more pronounced this season. Ethier is hitting .213 against lefties and .316 against righties.

You would think Dodgers manager Don Mattingly could help. He hit .296 against lefties, just .018 points worse than his lifetime average against righties, but he has been unable to find the key to Ethier's struggles.

"Obviously not," Mattingly said.

Mattingly said he's not dissatisfied with Ethier's approach to the problem. He also says he thinks it's a bit of a negative feedback loop. As Ethier struggles, he begins to think about it more.

"[Media members] are going to let him know that he's not hitting lefties. He already knows and then, as you let him know, you're letting the people know, so everywhere he goes, they're letting him know," Mattingly said. "You can't really get away from it."

Wednesday could be something of a respite from Ethier's troubles (0 for his last 14), as Matt Cain is one of his favorite pitchers to face. Ethier is batting .480 off Cain in 50 career at-bats. That's the best hitter-pitcher matchup (minimum 50 at-bats) in the majors, slightly ahead of Matt Kemp vs. Barry Zito (.462).

Here are the rest of the lineups for Wednesday's game, with the Dodgers trying to evade a three-game sweep and a 2 1/2-game deficit in the NL West:

San Francisco
Angel Pagan CF
Marco Scutaro 2B
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Hunter Pence RF
Joaquin Arias SS
Hector Sanchez C
Brandon Belt 1B
Justin Christian LF
Matt Cain P

Dodgers
Shane Victorino LF
Mark Ellis 2B
Matt Kemp CF
Andre Ethier RF
Hanley Ramirez SS
James Loney 1B
Luis Cruz 3B
A.J. Ellis C
Chris Capuano P