LOS ANGELES -- Despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars adding players lately, the Dodgers lost a game Friday night because they were short-handed.
Rolling the dice by not replacing ailing closer Kenley Jansen, the calculated gamble backfired when a five-inning start by Aaron Harang and an extra-inning game led manager Don Mattingly to throw Matt Guerrier -- who hadn't pitched in a Major League game in four months because of a serious elbow injury -- into the fire, ready or not.
Former teammate Jason Kubel lined Guerrier's third pitch over the fence for a 4-3 D-backs win, after the Dodgers had rallied from a three-run deficit to tie the game and received five scoreless innings of relief from Shawn Tolleson, Ronald Belisario and Brandon League.
"Probably not the way we wanted to put him in a game," Mattingly conceded. "For the first time his stuff was actually really good. In that kind of game, he's on the roster and we had to use him when we had to use him."
That's part of the story. But the Dodgers were playing for the fourth consecutive game without Jansen, management trying to get to Saturday when rosters expand and reinforcements can arrive. They held off putting Jansen on the disabled list because on Tuesday he might be cleared to pitch by next Friday. Or he might be ruled out for the rest of the season because of a recurrence of an irregular heartbeat.
Jamey Wright, whose primary role would be to pitch extra innings as the long man, threw two innings in relief of Clayton Kershaw on Thursday night. Mattingly said there had been no talk of disabling Jansen because the Dodgers are hopeful of getting him back for the stretch run.
"If not," said Mattingly, "this is what we're playing with and the way it is."
Guerrier, who last pitched in a big league game on April 18, and Kubel played together in Minnesota. Kubel, who has 27 homers, came into the game 1-for-28.
"I just didn't get it in enough," said Guerrier, who made five Minor League rehab appearances before his Thursday activation. "I know him well. I played with him. That is what he likes to do. I felt great. It's good to be back out there and it's unfortunate it ended the way it did."
The Dodgers were losing for the fifth time in six games and for the eighth consecutive time to Arizona.
"Well, we've got to beat somebody," Arizona manager Kirk Gibson said. "Is that eight in a row? I hope we can make it nine. They're a very good team. We've had good pitching and we've played good defensive baseball and kept it close and scratched these two wins out."
The Dodgers, meanwhile, wasted a three-run comeback, four double plays by the defense and a chance to pick up a game on the Giants, who also lost and still lead by 4 1/2 games in the National League West.
"If we can't put together wins and take care of our business, it's not going to matter what other teams do," said Mattingly, who held a team meeting after Thursday night's game and another meeting before Friday night's game with general manager Ned Colletti and the eight players acquired in the last six weeks.
"We still have a chance to control our destiny if we play really well down the stretch. We did a lot of good things in this game, but at this point in the year there are no moral victories. Each loss is a stinger."
Matt Kemp returned to the lineup, having missed two games after losing a collision with the Coors Field center-field fence. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a walk, his bruised left knee improved enough to steal a base and score a run, but the stiff left shoulder looking less than sound on some swings.
Unlike the shutout loss of the previous night, the Dodgers had a pair of clutch hits, Mark Ellis' two-run, two-out single in the fifth inning and Andre Ethier's two-out tying single in the sixth. Luis Cruz was a star again with a pair of hits and a diving stop that began a crucial double play in the ninth.
Harang was unlucky to fall behind in the second inning. After Miguel Montero's two-out single, Harang got Chris Johnson to lift a routine fly to right field, but Ethier lost the ball in the dusk sky. Ethier caught sight of the ball late and made a backward lunge but came up empty as Montero scored on Johnson's triple.
Shane Victorino, one of the newer Dodgers who came over with the World Series ring, winced when asked if it was time for the Dodgers to panic.
"I hate to use the word panic or pressure. It's more a sense of urgency," Victorino said. "We came from behind tonight, gave ourselves chances to win. Is it frustrating with the offense we have? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, if we've given our best effort that's all we can ask.
"There's enough pressure with this trade and we're all in the microscope. You can say that we've become a team everybody puts on a pedestal and when we don't score and don't win, do you say we're pressing? We're panicking? I'd say we're not. We're all professionals and we just have to stay focused and take it one game at a time."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.