Series of late mishaps sends LA packing
Bullpen meltdown costs Wolf win; errors in eighth seal loss
SAN DIEGO -- A bullpen breakdown in the seventh inning and a defensive collapse in the eighth were too much for even a Manny Ramirez home run to overcome, as the Dodgers hit the season's midpoint with a 7-4 loss to the Padres on Saturday.
In yet another Randy Wolf no-decision, the Dodgers led, 2-1, when Wolf yielded in the seventh to Ronald Belisario, who lost the lead when the first four batters he faced reached base in a three-run inning.
Belisario -- an obscure rookie who had never pitched above Double-A in 10 professional seasons until making the Opening Day roster -- brought a 1.89 ERA into this game, having emerged as the replacement for last year's workhorse Cory Wade.
Belisario allowed a leadoff walk and three singles, but he was hurt most by hitting Kyle Blanks with a 96-mph fastball to load the bases with no outs. Torre said Belisario became frustrated over several pitch calls by home-plate umpire Larry Vanover on the walk.
This was Belisario's third appearance since his early morning arrest June 28 on suspicion of driving under the influence. In the two other games, he pitched three scoreless innings with five strikeouts.
Los Angeles cut San Diego's lead to 4-3 in the eighth without a ball hit out of the infield, taking advantage of Rafael Furcal's four-pitch leadoff walk. But the Padres scored three unearned runs off Ramon Troncoso in the bottom of the eighth on errors by infielders Juan Castro and Casey Blake.
The usually sure-handed Castro, starting in place of slumping Orlando Hudson, started the rally by booting Tony Gwynn's likely double-play grounder.
"I don't think I was rushing," Castro said. "I was even thinking, 'Make sure you get one,' because the pitcher was up next. I don't know what happened. It hit the top of my glove. I thought I had it."
Then Blake made a do-or-die barehanded pickup of Everth Cabrera's two-out tapper with runners on second and third, but his desperate throw sailed wide of first baseman James Loney and into the Dodgers' bullpen in foul territory -- allowing both runners to score.
"I was playing in for the bunt, but the ball was chopped and it just didn't come up to me," Blake said of the slow-paced ball. "I could have gone home, I saw that runner out of the corner of my eye, but wasn't thinking about him. [Cabrera] got down the line fast, but I still think I'd had him with a good throw."
The Dodgers have now lost six of their past nine games.
"We didn't play our best," manager Joe Torre said. "We had the lead, but we're so spoiled bringing guys out of the bullpen. We just didn't pitch well out of the bullpen or play well. You can't be giving the other team extra outs. It comes back to haunt you."
And it burned starter Wolf, who is pitching too well to be 3-3 in 18 starts. Do the math, and you'll see that Wolf has a dozen no-decisions already, only six shy of Odalis Perez's 2004 record. Wolf has been in line for the win in seven of the 12 no-decisions, but he hasn't won since May 28.
Wolf allowed the Padres one run on four hits in six innings with eight strikeouts and no walks, retiring the final 10 batters he faced. Torre said Wolf would have been sent out for the seventh inning had the Dodgers led, but he was lifted for a pinch-hitter.
"I thought I threw the ball well," Wolf said. "I gave up a leadoff double [to Padres pitcher Josh Geer], but limited that inning to one run. I felt really good about the way I threw today."
Meanwhile, aside from Ramirez's first-inning home run on a hanging 1-2 changeup from Geer, the Dodgers scored one run on a wild pitch, another without a ball leaving the infield and the last was basically a freebie when Loney led off the ninth with a walk, took second on defensive indifference and scored on Matt Kemp's RBI single.
Manny's liner into the left-field seats was his seventh home run of the year and No. 534 of his career, moving Ramirez into a tie with Jimmie Foxx for 16th place on the all-time list. Next up is Mickey Mantle at 536.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.