Silence not golden for Dodgers in loss
Offense unable to break through against Reds right-hander
CINCINNATI -- The Dodgers aren't dead after suffering three consecutive shutouts, even if most of them weren't even born the last time it happened.
A 1-0 loss to the Reds was the Dodgers' fourth shutout in the last five games and third straight for the first time since the 1966 World Series, when Baltimore's Jim Palmer, Wally Bunker and Dave McNally each threw shutouts. The Dodgers also were shut out three consecutive games in the 1966 regular season and in 1962, but have not suffered four consecutive shutouts since leaving Brooklyn.
While not dead, however, the current Dodgers are fading fast: they've lost six straight, 10 of 11, 15 of 19. They fell into fourth place for the first time since Opening Week, having lost four games in the standings in nine days and are assured of losing their sixth consecutive series.
After the final out, when Brandon Phillips stole a hit from Jeff Kent, many of the players sat stunned in the dugout before making their way into a silent clubhouse. Manager Grady Little wasn't silent, but just as frustrated as his team lives out its version of Groundhog Day.
Another game, another 97-degree first pitch with an extreme heat warning, another extremely cold offense.
"There's really no need to have this meeting tonight. It's just a replay of everything we talked about last night," Little said. "The only thing that's different is just prior to the game, I saw Aaron Harang and [pitching coach] Dick Pole walking to the bullpen, two big men walking through the gate and either one of them could have shut us out tonight."
Little shuffled the lineup, reversing Rafael Furcal and Juan Pierre at the top, replacing Luis Gonzalez with Matt Kemp in the outfield and moving Andre Ethier up to fifth.
The Dodgers had only four hits in eight innings off Harang (11-3), and the one play that had the makings of a run turned almost instantly into a rally-killing double-play instead. James Loney led off the eighth inning with a double and Matt Kemp followed with a laser liner heading toward center field, but Phillips made a diving catch and doubled off Loney.
"You hear the clubhouse now? It's kind of silent," said Kemp, who struck out his other two at-bats. "I thought it was a hit, but he [Phillips] made two good plays at the end to save the game. That's just how it's going right now."
Little said he's never seen this kind of stretch, not with this much talent of the players all at one time. He concedes its getting to the psyche of the team, and its manager.
"It certainly is mine," he said. "We've got to keep working and stay as confident as we can and see if we can get it going. I'm sure it gets to them. The result is trying too hard to carry the load. We got into this rut collectively, and we have to get out collectively. Once we score one run, we'll be off and running. Somebody is going to have to pay for this rut we're in."
Chad Billingsley paid for his offense's lack of support with his third consecutive defeat after a 7-0 start to the season. Billingsley had to scramble, requiring 98 pitches over only five innings, walking four to go with six hits and needing every bit of catcher Russell Martin's goaltending skills to limit his wild pitches to two.
The only run scored in the third inning when Scott Hatteberg doubled and was singled home by Ken Griffey Jr.
"That's the way it goes sometimes," said Billingsley, pitching in his home state for the first time as a Major Leaguer. "It's a tough time right now. Bad luck is coming at us."
The Dodgers had no baserunners until Furcal's one-out single in the fourth. They stranded four and were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, making them 1-for-43 dating back to last Tuesday.
"Sometimes it's just the nature of the game," said Kent. "There's no lack of effort. It's real easy to try to do too much, especially when you're young, especially when you're old. I did it tonight [striking out with runners on the corners]. You really have to control your emotions and attitude."
"Fortune is just not going our way. You can't make fortune happen. I don't know if there are any answers, because if there were answers, we'd fix the problem. We're not getting fortune, we're not winning games. Everything's magnified with Arizona winning 10 of 12. A couple weeks ago we were in first, and now we're not."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.