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05/12/09 11:42 PM ET
Walks, steals haunt Dodgers in defeat
Kershaw issues four free passes; Phils swipe six bases
By Joseph Santoliquito / Special to MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- The next eight games on the Dodgers' schedule aren't so much a test as they are a seek-and-find mission. Manager Joe Torre knows he has a good team. The hovering question is how good. The Dodgers may have received a good indicator Tuesday night, losing the opener of a three-game series against the defending World Series champion Phillies, 5-3, before 45,191 at Citizens Bank Park. Los Angeles has now dropped four of its past five, and are also 1-4 without Manny Ramirez. But more importantly, the club has only won five games against teams with winning records this season. This is still a team that might wonder where it stands when it comes to the National League elite, despite a league-best 22-12 record. "We know we're good, and we're certainly going to go out and beat people," Torre said. "But with this schedule, you don't see people often, and you're talking about some really good clubs out there, like the Phillies, the Mets, the Cubs. It's how you match up, that's what we're looking at. We're going to find out how good we are. Sometimes we have to find out about ourselves, we have to measure ourselves." Giving up eight walks and six stolen bases doesn't help. Most of the free passes came from starter Clayton Kershaw, who took the loss to fall to 1-3. At times, the lefty showed good stuff, like setting the Phillies down in order in the second. At other times, he didn't, like serving up a two-strike fastball in the fourth to Raul Ibanez, who slammed it for a two-run double. "The kid had real good stuff tonight, but he walked [four] guys tonight and these guys will eat you alive with [four] walks," Torre said. "Maybe sometimes you can get away with it, but against giving up walks to good clubs [like the Phillies] is like giving them extra outs." But mostly, Kershaw stung himself. In the Phils' third, which began with Kershaw issuing walks to Pedro Feliz and Carlos Ruiz, was a portent -- and Kershaw knew it. "That inning I gave up a run, you can't walk the first two batters, because you're bound to give up some runs," Kershaw said. "I felt good tonight. That is a good-hitting team, but I can't make pitches like the fastball to Ibanez with two strikes on him." Catcher Russell Martin wasn't getting much help, either. The Phillies had stolen a total of 12 bases this season. They ripped off six against the Dodgers, four alone coming from former Dodgers outfielder Jayson Werth, who stole home in the seventh. "They weren't running on Russell," Torre said. "They did a good job of gauging our pitchers. Our pitchers didn't leave Russell in a good position." Martin didn't exactly feel as if he left himself in a good spot on Werth's theft of home. "It was an embarrassing play," Martin said. "He timed it perfectly. Right then, all I was thinking about was getting the hitter out. It shouldn't have happened." Regardless of the lapses, Los Angeles was still in position to win in the ninth. The visitors brought the go-ahead run to the plate in Juan Pierre, after Mark Loretta's two-out, broken-bat single scored James Loney from second, closing the gap to 5-3. But Phils closer Brad Lidge, after struggling with six batters in the ninth, got Pierre to line out to center field and end the game. The win snapped the Phillies' two-game skid, and it marked the Dodgers' seventh straight loss at Citizens Bank Park, dating back to Aug. 23, 2007, when Chad Billingsley beat the Phils, 5-2. But Torre did like the effort he saw, especially in the ninth. "We're going to battle, and we're going to keep battling," Torre said. "We gave them too much tonight, but just when it looks like guys are flat, we certainly didn't quit."
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.