06/25/09 12:46 AM ET
Kemp's late blast can't save Dodgers
Starter Wolf surrenders three of six White Sox homers
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
"There's no way to sugarcoat it -- I stunk," Wolf said.
Wolf was followed by Cory Wade, who was taken deep twice, then James McDonald joined in with one. When the fireworks that signal home-team blasts at U.S. Cellular Field finally stopped exploding through the South Side night, it was the most home runs the Dodgers had allowed in one game in nearly eight years and one shy of the 55-year-old franchise record.
Wolf didn't need a record book to fuel his self-critique.
"It's virtually impossible to look yourself in the mirror and get big league hitters out when you hit your spot 30 percent of the time," he said. "Frankly, I'm embarrassed by the way I pitched. I was behind everybody. I threw it right down the middle of the plate. I missed spots by 16 inches. There's no way to get around it. I was awful and I deserved to get my teeth kicked in.
"The next four days, it's my responsibility to get back on track and fix the mess I was throwing out there today."
Wolf was removed after the first of Josh Fields' two home runs with one out in the fourth inning, his shortest start of the year. He was charged with five runs on seven hits, two walks, two wild pitches and a hit batter.
And the really bad news was sort of hidden in the good news -- the Dodgers didn't give up, not even when down 10-3 after five innings. They scraped for a seventh-inning run after a bloop double by Juan Pierre, and Matt Kemp turned the apparent blowout into a save situation with two outs in the eighth inning when he slugged a three-run homer on an 0-2 pitch from Jimmy Gobble.
"We showed some fight -- most teams would lay down," said Pierre, who took the most painful blow immediately after Kemp's homer -- a fastball in the back. "You take some positive out of this, because we made every at-bat count and made their pitchers work. You never know what can happen."
Meanwhile, Wolf said he already looked at some video and detected flaws in his lower body that will provide a starting point in his Thursday bullpen session. Although this was only his second loss since April 7 and he allowed only one run in six innings of his most recent start last week against Oakland, he said the four walks in that game were a precursor to the batting practice he threw to the White Sox.
"Against the A's, I was battling, and today I was awful," he said. "When you miss by that much, it's just unacceptable. I need to get back to where I was and fix it. It's that simple."
He said he warmed up fine Wednesday, but he never puts a lot of emphasis on that. He said he's usually able to make in-game adjustments, but in this game, things kept getting worse.
"I was behind every hitter, even the second inning when they didn't score, and that's a recipe for disaster," he said.
Wolf rejected the suggestion that the persistent cough he's been fighting for nearly two months has taken a toll on his effectiveness.
"I personally don't think so, and I would never use that as an excuse," he said. "I look at my stuff, the velocity was there. When you're not locating, all my changeups were up. The slider I couldn't throw for a strike to the right-handers, the curveball was 50/50, the fastball was 30/70. That not good at all."
Meanwhile, Wade was charged with four runs in one inning. He hasn't been anything like last year's lights-out unsung workhorse. He's been scored upon in three of his past four outings (six runs in 2 2/3 innings) and his ERA is up to 5.88 after last year's 2.27. Maybe the 87 combined innings he threw last year took a toll, but his velocity is a respectable 90 mph and he insists he is healthy two months after coming off the disabled list from a sore shoulder.
"I've just got to accept it as part of the game," he said. "At some point, I know it will turn around. I feel good, I'm just not getting good results. I feel fine."
Nonetheless, Claudio Vargas' rehab assignment from a three-month elbow injury ends next week and the Dodgers are almost certain to need a Major League spot for him.
"Wade's success is based on command," manager Joe Torre said. "He just made a pitch that was too fat. His velocity is about the same. I just needs location because he doesn't have overpowering stuff."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.