Offensive woes continue in defeat
Dodgers can't find clutch hit in Interleague loss to Rangers
ARLINGTON -- The Dodgers are looking a little blue as of late. They are 7-7 over their past 14 games, and their recent offensive struggles continued in Friday's 6-0 loss to the Rangers.
"There's no one to blame," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "They're out there trying, but they're pressing. We're really pressing to get hits. One of these days, it'll fall into place."The Dodgers had plenty of early opportunities. In the first inning, Orlando Hudson and Andre Ethier walked to put runners on first and second with one out. Casey Blake grounded out, moving both runners over. But James Loney hit a harmless fly ball to end the inning. Two innings later, the Dodgers could not capitalize on a promising inning. Hudson singled with two outs, and Ethier followed with a walk. Blake singled to load the bases, but Loney again flied out to end the threat. The Dodgers stranded 11 runners total. Outfielder Matt Kemp offered an explanation based on the ominous meteorological conditions at Rangers Ballpark. "I blame it on the lightning," Kemp said. "I came up to bat worried about the lightning. That's why I didn't get the big hit." Kidding aside, Kemp offered a serious explanation. "We hit a bunch of balls just hard at people," Kemp said. "It's just baseball. I'd love to get 10 hits and 20 runs and throw no-hitters every night, but it's just baseball." Ethier echoed that sentiment. "They pitched well and played good defense," Ethier said. "They played well on that side of the ball. There's going to be times where you go through little spells. It's sometimes just how it is. We'll put this one behind us." A Rangers offense that scored just 3.22 runs per game over its past nine came through with big hits. The Rangers scored two runs in the bottom of the third. Taylor Teagarden led off the inning with a double to left field and scored when Omar Vizquel clubbed a hard-hit ball through Loney's legs at first for an error. Michael Young singled him home two batters later. It was the second error Loney committed this season. He entered the game with the fourth-best fielding percentage among National League first basemen. Hank Blalock led off the sixth inning with a solo home run. Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda induced a groundout from Nelson Cruz, but then allowed back-to-back singles by David Murphy and Marlon Byrd. Left-handed reliever Brent Leach entered to strike out the left-handed-hitting Chris Davis for the second out of the inning and was lifted in favor of Guillermo Mota. Mota allowed a two-run double to Teagarden. Vizquel hit a popup to end the inning one batter later, but the damage was done. Byrd hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning to score the Rangers' final run. Kuroda allowed season highs in both runs (five) and hits (eight). Like the Dodgers, he hasn't fared well in Interleague Play: 0-2 with a 5.40 ERA in two starts. Kuroda is winless since returning from the disabled list on June 1 and 4-9 on the road in his career. Kuroda went 5 1/3 innings on 92 pitches. Vicente Padilla earned the win with five scoreless innings of work. He needed 28 pitches to escape the first inning and threw 108 total. "They were hitting a lot of foul balls," Padilla said. "They were making me throw a lot more pitches than I wanted to." The Dodgers fell to 36-63 and 1-3 this season in Interleague Play after losing two of three to the Angels earlier this season. Los Angeles is 5-4 at Rangers Ballpark and 9-8 against Texas. Friday was the first time the teams played since June 11-13, 2001, in Los Angeles. The Dodgers last visited Arlington from June 5-7, 2000. The Dodgers seemed ready to chalk up Friday's lack of offensive production as just "one of those nights." They also believe their season record shows their true talent. "We're capable of beating anybody," Kemp said. "Our record shows that. We're a good team." The Dodgers still have the best record in baseball at 40-22 and a 7 1/2-game lead in the National League West. "Right now, we're trying to go out there and play nine innings," Torre said. "If we win more games than everyone else in our division, we'll win our division."
Daniel Paullingis an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.