Dodgers commit four errors in loss
LA falls two games out of first place in National League West
LOS ANGELES -- After watching his catcher commit two throwing errors playing third base, his third baseman commit an error playing first base and his backup catcher commit a fourth error that led to the winning run, Joe Torre was asked if he second-guessed himself for the unorthodox lineup he fielded Wednesday night.
"No, not at all," the manager said after the Dodgers' 4-3 loss to the Rockies. "But you can. You have a right to ask that question. We've had success doing that."
The Dodgers came into the game 4-3 with Russell Martin starting at third base and 1-0 with Casey Blake starting at first. Torre explained that he sent his defense into motion to avoid playing first baseman James Loney because he was 1-for-16 lifetime against Colorado starter Jeff Francis.
Two innings in, Torre's lineup had done well enough for a 3-0 lead with Juan Pierre -- starting ahead of Andre Ethier because he was hitting .481 against Francis -- singling and scoring a first-inning run and backup catcher Danny Ardoin's sharp grounder scoring a pair of runs, although instead of a two-run single it was ruled an error on drawn-in shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
But the Dodgers didn't score a run after the second inning, stranded four runners in scoring position through four innings and had their last 15 batters retired in order. Matt Kemp had an eventful game, singling in Pierre in the first inning, getting doubled off first on a hit-and-run flyout by Jeff Kent that inning and gunning down Ian Stewart at the plate trying to score from second on Francis' single in the second inning.
Meanwhile, the Rockies patiently waited for the Dodgers to beat themselves, which they did.
"We gave away too much," Torre said. "We gave them too many outs and you can't do that, especially with a team that can beat you up offensively."
Tulowitzki homered in the fourth inning off Chad Billingsley, who pitched into and out of a bases-loaded situation with no outs in the fifth while allowing only one run that scored when Blake booted Brad Hawpe's grounder.
Billingsley left with a 3-2 lead after six innings, but the lead got away on an unearned run off Chan Ho Park in a seventh-inning rally that started when Martin's rushed throw on speedy Willy Taveras' bouncer pulled Blake off the bag, Hawpe's single tying the game.
"I'd like to take that play back, but there's nothing I can do now," Martin said. "The first one [on Yorvit Torrealba in the sixth], I overthrew and didn't have to throw that hard. The second one [on Tavares], I got on the side of it and it ran away from Casey."
As Torre pointed out, however, the key player keeping the fifth inning from spinning out of control was his third baseman, Martin, who fielded two sharp grounders and erased runners at home, the second time beginning an inning-ending double play.
"I'm not stubborn," Torre said. "But I'd put them back at first base and third base without any hesitation. I'm totally comfortable watching them."
Jonathan Broxton took the loss. He drilled Matt Holliday with the second pitch of the ninth inning, a 97-mph fastball. Holliday stole second base and Ardoin's throw was very wild, allowing Holliday to advance to third.
That also meant the Dodgers had to draw the infield in, and Hawpe took advantage of that, sending a soft liner just over second baseman Kent for a single and his third RBI of the game.
"We gave them too many opportunities," Torre said, "and when you don't score a lot of runs, it's all magnified."
Broxton has back-to-back losses and three of the Dodgers' past five defeats, his ERA up to 3.69. Although he's 9-for-10 in save situations since inheriting the closer job from the injured Takashi Saito, he's also allowed earned runs in four of his past six appearances, his ERA jumping from 3.02.
Billingsley took his third no-decision in the past four starts, although it qualifies as a quality start with two runs in six innings. He had runners on base in each inning, burned through 114 pitches and was ragged, but kept damage by a potent lineup to a minimum.
"It wasn't my best stuff at all," he said. "I was battling."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.