Quiet offense, Broxton's blown save cost LA
Billingsley's superb start goes for naught in loss to Giants
SAN FRANCISCO -- Guillermo Mota was the forgotten man in Joe Torre's bullpen as last season ended, so to see him dancing off the mound as a winning stand-in for injured Giants closer Brian Wilson on Saturday was a fittingly bizarre ending to another bitter loss by the Dodgers bullpen.Only hours after general manager Ned Colletti beat the Trade Deadline by acquiring starter Ted Lilly, infielder Ryan Theriot and reliever Octavio Dotel, he had to watch Mota retire the last five batters in a stunning 2-1 Giants victory, as Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton served up a two-run homer to Pat Burrell with two out in the bottom of the eighth inning. Mota said he didn't realize he jumped for joy after striking out former batterymate Russell Martin to end it. "I did? Where's the video?" he asked. The loss was the Dodgers' fourth straight, leaving them seven games behind first-place San Diego and a whopping 5 1/2 games behind the Giants, who lead the Wild Card competition. "All we're doing is digging ourselves a deeper hole that we're going to have to come back out of if we expect to do anything, and making it harder on ourselves," said Torre. In defeat the night before, the Dodgers scored three runs in the ninth inning against the Giants' depleted bullpen and Torre offered hope that the sudden offensive slump was over. But the hitters regressed Saturday, Casey Blake's home run leading off the seventh inning against Barry Zito the only time a Dodger made it past second base. The Dodgers had three hits Friday night; they had three hits Saturday. "No, sorry, I wish I had something for you," Torre said, at a loss to explain the lack of punch. Of course, there are reasons. Manny Ramirez is still on the disabled list, and Saturday, the squad was shorthanded by the morning trade of Blake DeWitt and the departure of right fielder Andre Ethier, who went home for the birth of his second child. The Dodgers had only three position players on the bench. They also wasted two scoring opportunities, Rafael Furcal caught stealing third on a double-steal in the fourth inning and then Furcal and Matt Kemp striking out after a pair of one-out walks in the eighth inning, one to reliever Hong-Chih Kuo. "That was a dagger, that's for sure," Blake said of the loss. "You can go around this clubhouse and hear stories of how people have been on teams that have been down with not a whole lot of time left. We play our division quite a bit, so we've got to keep pressing, maintain some sort of confidence that we'll be fine. "There's some sense of urgency to get back on track, pressing forward and working hard to find something to stay positive about. I feel bad for our pitchers. Keep giving them one or two runs and we're going to get bit. Not scoring more opens the door for stuff to happen like what happened today." It was Broxton's fourth blown save of the season and it wasted another big-time effort from Chad Billingsley, who threw 6 2/3 scoreless innings and 95 pitches on three days' rest. Billingsley hasn't allowed a run in his last three starts (21 innings). "I told the pitchers the other day I can't understand why they can't win with one run," Torre said with a half-smile. "You try to lighten the mood. They've been doing a great job. When I took him out, I told him he's pitching Monday. We just couldn't take it home for him. He's pitched two games where he needed to be on his 'A' game with no scoring. He was great." Kuo got the final out of the seventh inning and retired the first two batters in the eighth before nicking Buster Posey in the shoulder with a pitch, drawing a puzzling warning to both benches from plate umpire Rob Drake. Torre said he was told by crew chief Joe West that the crew had been given instructions by Major League Baseball to issue quick warnings because of the incidents last week in Los Angeles that led to suspensions for Torre and Clayton Kershaw.
"I thought it was so silly," said Torre. "At some point, you have to have common sense make decisions. Hit-by-pitches have been part of baseball long before I was living and it doesn't mean it happens on purpose. It just doesn't make sense. But that didn't beat us."Torre brought on Broxton to pitch to Burrell and said he had thought about bringing in Broxton to pitch to Posey. Broxton started Burrell with three straight balls, got the count to 3-2, then grooved a fastball that Burrell lined into the left-field seats. "I was fine. I just fell behind and there's no room for a mistake right there and he got me," said Broxton. "I didn't see the video, but it was probably right down the middle. I couldn't take the chance of walking him. Any of these [blown saves] are terrible." Torre said Broxton was throwing fine in the bullpen, "but he just came into the game and looked like, I don't know, like he was trying to throw strikes. Obviously he didn't have command. Everything is fine [physically] as far as we know."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.