08/10/08 9:13 PM ET
Dodgers suffer another walk-off loss
Kuo gives up two unearned runs; Ramirez's clutch hit wasted
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
"We'll find out what we're made of," catcher Russell Martin said after the Dodgers gave away another game to the Giants on Sunday, 5-4, on Eugenio Velez's walk-off dribbler through the legs of reliever Hong-Chih Kuo and off the glove of shortstop Angel Berroa.
It was the Dodgers' second-worst defensive play of an inning that was set up by what should have been a double-play grounder off the bat of Jose Castillo to sure-handed third baseman Casey Blake, who booted it to load the bases.
"Routine double-play ball," said Blake. "I got too quick. I didn't look it into my glove. I'm not going to make all the plays, but I've got to make that play, plain and simple."
And the Dodgers aren't going to win all the games -- they haven't even won half of them -- but they've got to win games like Saturday night's, when Jeff Kent homered for the lead in the top of the 10th, only for Jonathan Broxton to cough up two runs in the bottom of the inning for a 3-2 loss.
And they've got to win games like Sunday's, when Manny Ramirez shook off a 94-mph Matt Cain fastball off the helmet in the first inning to deliver a clutch two-run double for a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning, but Kuo couldn't get the final out, charged with two unearned runs.
The Dodgers now have a losing record (4-5) with Ramirez, although you can't blame him or the other two Dodgers outfielders. In addition to Ramirez's two RBIs, they got three hits, two runs and a stolen base from Matt Kemp and two hits, two runs and an RBI from Andre Ethier, who has supplanted Juan Pierre as the third starter.
But spots five through nine in the batting order went 0-for-18.
"We lost a couple we should have won and we've got a couple good teams coming in," said Martin. "We've got to bounce back. That's what separates good teams from bad teams."
And the jury has been out all year to which category the Dodgers belong. This loss again dropped them one game below .500 and 1 1/2 games behind Arizona. They haven't been in first place since April 4.
They don't figure to improve any if Martin misses any time after taking a foul tip off the index finger of his throwing hand just before Velez's game-winning roller. Martin had trouble making warm-up throws to Blake, but remained in the game, or what was left of it, and dismissed the suggestion that it might be serious.
"It's in the best spot," he said. "It's the part near the knuckle where you'd punch someone."
Kuo suffered the kayo and the team's second blown save in as many games. Broxton was the victim Saturday night and, while he told the staff he was available, manager Joe Torre wouldn't use him for a fourth consecutive day. Instead, as he said he would before the game, Torre gave the ball to Kuo, who retired the final two batters in the eighth inning and was looking for his first career save needing three more outs in the ninth.
But Randy Winn, who had driven in three runs already off Chad Billingsley (and is 7-for-14 lifetime against the Dodgers starter), opened the inning with a single to right and Aaron Rowand bounced a single to left. Omar Vizquel's foul bunt pop was caught by Martin, and Castillo followed with a moderately paced bouncer that Blake couldn't glove.
Emmanuel Burriss sent a similar bouncer to Pablo Ozuna, who had replaced Kent at second, but his feed to Berroa for the second out wasn't quick enough for Berroa's relay to first to complete a game-ending double play, Winn scoring the tying run and runners now on the corners with two outs.
Velez then hit a tapper right back to Kuo, who never got a glove on it as it split the wickets as if protected by a force field and headed toward second base. Berroa still had an outside shot at Velez, but the ball rolled up his arm and there was no throw as Rowand scored.
"We didn't play well defensively, but their speed put pressure on us," said Torre. "You have to make the club beat you. We fought back. You can't ask a club to do more than be ready and play every day.
"It's disappointing, but things are going to happen. It's how you rebound and I thought we rebounded well from [Saturday]. We have to reach down; we've got two good teams coming in. It's a good test for us."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.