Dodgers handed fifth consecutive loss
Defensive misplays in sixth inning hurt Billingsley's cause
SAN DIEGO -- Hurtling toward elimination, the Dodgers rolled over again Wednesday night in a 4-0 loss to the Padres, who swept their three-game series.
First-place San Diego came into this series staggering with a 10-game losing streak, but now the Dodgers are halfway toward matching it. They've dropped their last five and seven of the last eight. After losing to National League Cy Young candidate Mat Latos on Tuesday night, they were shut down by Cory Luebke in the second start of his career.
Chad Billingsley (11-9) followed Clayton Kershaw with another tough-luck loss, chased in a mess of a sixth inning prolonged by several defensive misplays. He allowed six singles, four of them fielded by infielders, with rookie Luis Durango driving in two runs.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers' offense had only three hits, after getting only five the night before.
The game featured the Major League debuts of Russ Mitchell, who started at first base, and career Minor Leaguer John Lindsey, who was announced as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning, only to be lifted for another pinch-hitter when the Padres made a pitching change. Lindsey had spent 16 years in the Minor Leagues waiting for the moment.
He's now an official part of one of the most storied franchises in Major League history. He's also part of a club that has been shut out 16 times this year (the most since 1989) and a club that has scored seven runs during the five-game losing streak.
Since the All-Star break, from which the Dodgers returned with a six-game losing streak, they are 20-32 (.385), plunging from a second-place tie and two games back in the NL West to fourth place, 11 games behind. Since the break, the Dodgers have had losing streaks of six, six and five games. Their longest win streak was four games.
The box score that finally shows a Lindsey appearance will also show Billingsley allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings on six hits. It won't show that he "deserved a better fate," according to Torre.
"We didn't score runs," he said. "I thought he pitched a competitive game. We put so much pressure on our starters because we don't give them any runs to work with and we're not able to put pressure on the opposition."
The Padres scored the first run in the third inning. Rookie Luis Durango beat out a one-out infield single when second baseman Ryan Theriot doubled-clutched, then Durango stole second base. Chase Headley struck out for the second out. Torre had Adrian Gonzalez walked intentionally, preferring to pitch to Miguel Tejada, even though Gonzalez was 10-for-44 against Billingsley and Tejada was 5-for-14.
On a 2-2 pitch, Tejeda singled up the middle to score Durango, Gonzalez taking third and Tejada advancing to second on center fielder Matt Kemp's late throw to third base. Matt Stairs walked to load the bases, but Billingsley got Yorvit Torrealba on a forceout grounder.
"The first couple of innings, he was pretty efficient," Padres manager Bud Black said of Billingsley. "But we had some good at-bats in the third, fifth and sixth innings. We really made him work."
A bloop and a bunt by Will Venable and Everth Cabrera for singles put Billingsley in trouble with no outs in the sixth. Catcher Rod Barajas made it worse by fielding David Eckstein's bunt and throwing late to third base. With the bases loaded, Durango singled to left, scoring two.
"If it wasn't something that happens to us all the time, it might have been a little out of the ordinary, but getting baserunners on and executing a bunt or whatever, good things can happen when you're able to do that," said Venable. "We were able to push a couple across playing small ball." Headley bounced to Mitchell, who started at first base for James Loney, but his throw to second base hit Durango in the back and the bases were loaded again. Gonzalez's sacrifice fly scored Eckstein.
"Four or five infield singles, you can't do much about that," said Billingsley.
The Dodgers' offense remained missing in action, even though Torre started Mitchell and Reed Johnson for Loney and Ethier.
Torre had Rafael Furcal bat third and he had an infield single in four at-bats, but will get Thursday night off after the flight to Houston. Torre also said he would give Kemp the game off, even though Kemp went 1-for-3 with a double, and start recent callup Trent Oeltjen in center field.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.