Monasterios comes up short vs. Angels

LOS ANGELES -- Any lingering questions as to whether Carlos Monasterios deserves more of a chance to remain in the Los Angeles Dodgers' starting rotation were quickly answered Sunday; almost as quickly as the rookie right-hander was sent on his not-so-merry way in the top of the third inning.

Proving again that in recent years they simply aren't in the same league, either literally or figuratively, with their crosstown rivals, the Dodgers fell to the Los Angeles Angels, this time 6-5 before 52,776 at Dodger Stadium.

It was the first loss for the Dodgers in the five games Monasterios has started this season, and it was a defeat that could be placed squarely at his feet.

Although he said neither manager Joe Torre nor pitching coach Rick Honeycutt had told him anything about his status, Monasterios admitted he had some idea before the game that he was making his last start before returning to the bullpen, because veteran starter Vicente Padilla is due off the disabled list later this week.

Torre was asked after Saturday night's game, when rookie and former golden boy John Ely struggled for the second start in a row, if perhaps it would be more appropriate to move Ely out of the rotation to make room for Padilla because Monasterios had pitched so well in his four previous starts. Torre's complete dismissal of the possibility seemed justified after Monasterios gave up four runs on seven hits over 2 2/3 innings and was tagged with the first loss of his brief major league career.

"I missed a lot of spots with my pitches,'' Monasterios said, with Kenji Nimura translating. "I really don't know (why), because I felt really goood before the game. I don't really have an explanation.''

Monasterios' ERA jumped by almost three-quarters of a run, from 2.27 to 2.98. Although he says he is more comfortable in a starter's role, he sounded resigned to returning to the pen.

"They haven't told me anything about that yet, but I'm aware of the situation,'' he said. "My mindset is always the same.''

Although Padilla was roughed up in his final minor league rehabilitation start on Sunday, and in his only rehab start above the Single-A level -- he gave up six runs (four earned) on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings for Triple-A Albuquerque in a loss at Oklahoma City -- Torre seemed unconcerned with the results. He plans to meet with Padilla before Tuesday night's game in Cincinnati to gauge how he feels.

Barring an answer Torre isn't anticipating, Padilla will start either Friday or Saturday at Boston, with Ely starting whichever of those games Padilla doesn't. Monasterios, meanwhile, should be available out of the bullpen by Thursday at the latest and possibly sooner, after he threw just 69 pitches against the Angels.

Padilla, who has been on the DL since April 24 because of a nerve problem at the top of his right forearm, allowed just one run over 7 2/3 innings of his first two rehab starts. But keep in mind, those were against California League hitters, whereas a large percentage of the hitters in Triple-A either have been in the majors or are about to be.

Before his injury, Padilla wasn't very good against big league hitters. In four starts for the Dodgers, he was 1-1 with a 6.65 ERA, and the Dodgers lost three of those games.

Monasterios admitted he was frustrated by the unusual patience of the Angels hitters Sunday, and while he often got ahead in counts, he struggled to put those hitters away. Monasterios threw 29 pitches in the first inning alone -- including 11 pitches in two-strike counts that didn't result in an out -- as the Angels scored two runs. They got two more off Monasterios in the third before Torre finally came to get him with two outs.

The second-place Dodgers (36-27) remained one game behind the division-leading San Diego Padres in the National League West, but now lead the third-place San Francisco Giants by only one half-game.


Only time will tell whether Manny Ramirez is finally getting back on track, after struggling since coming off the disabled list more than a month ago, but Sunday was a good start. Ramirez went 3 -or-4, his first three-hit game since April 21. Two of those hits were doubles, giving Ramirez his first game this season with multiple extra-base hits. Ramirez is now hitting .229 (22 for 96) since being activated on May 8.

By the Numbers

26 -- Career-leadoff home runs for Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal, who pulled Jered Weaver's first pitch of the game into the second row, just inside the rightfield foul pole. It was the 14th leadoff home run for Furcal in his five seasons with the Dodgers. He is second on the all-time franchise list, but he has a long way to go to catch the franchise leader. Davey Lopes hit 28 leadoff home runs for the Dodgers.

Looking Ahead

The Dodgers play their first road game in more than two weeks when they begin a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park. Right-hander Hiroki Kuroda (5-4, 3.30), who is coming off his best performance of the season when he pitched seven shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals on Tuesday night, will start for the Dodgers. He will be opposed by veteran right-hander and longtime Reds ace Aaron Harang (5-5, 5.17), who struggled early in the season but has pitched well of late, going 3-0 with a 3.33 ERA in his past four starts.

Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com