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07/25/09 2:30 AM ET
Game gets away in late innings
Dodgers' win streak ends at five after shaky relief outings
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- One game after Manny Ramirez had them all shook up, the Dodgers held Elvis Presley Fireworks Night. But by the time the King left the building, the home team was indescribably blue. Their five-game win streak ended with a 6-3 loss to the Florida Marlins, who won it in Dodgers fashion. Their starting pitcher kept the game close, their relievers shut down the opposition, their bench was clutch. The Dodgers bullpen lost for only the fourth time since May 22, providing further fuel to those lobbying to trade for a veteran reliever. "We gave that to them," said catcher Russell Martin. "I don't feel they beat us. I feel like we beat ourselves." Ramirez, who electrified a sold-out crowd on his Bobblehead Night with a pinch-hit grand slam Wednesday, couldn't get a ball out of the infield in four plate appearances. In the first inning, he was hit on the arm by a Josh Johnson fastball. Johnson later nicked Martin with a slider. "I knew I was going to get an earful [from the fans] for that one," Johnson said. "I had him set up for what I wanted. I wanted to go up and in off the plate. It got away from me a little bit. Three inches, two inches and I'm not that far inside, it's a good pitch. It sets up the next one. It just got away from me. "The one to Martin was a slider. When I went up to the plate, I said, 'My bad, dude.' He said, 'Ah, don't worry about it. It's a slider.' " No way to know if Johnson's pitch had a purpose, but he had to like the results. Ramirez popped out in the fourth inning; bounced sharply off Johnson, who threw him out, in the sixth with two on and no out; then fouled out with a runner on first in the ninth. As for Martin's analysis that the Dodgers gave this one away, one Marlins run scored on a wild pitch, another on an Orlando Hudson throwing error. After Clayton Kershaw left his duel with Johnson tied at 3 through six innings, Dodgers relievers let the game get away. James McDonald got two quick outs in the seventh, then allowed a sharp single by former Dodger Cody Ross right past him and, perhaps distracted by what he thought should have been the third out, walked Ronny Paulino. "I could have made that play, but I didn't look to see where [shortstop Rafael] Furcal was," said McDonald. Brent Leach took over, fell behind pinch-hitter Jeremy Hermida, 2-0, and gave up the go-ahead RBI single. Ramon Troncoso brought his streak of 17 consecutive scoreless innings with him for the eighth inning and allowed five runners and two runs, including a pinch-homer by Chris Coghlan. As he has the few times he's been ineffective, the sinker-throwing Troncoso was hurt by hanging breaking balls. Meanwhile, the Marlins used four relievers to get the final six outs, the Dodgers bringing the tying run to the plate in the eighth with two outs after Andre Ethier's second double, but Kiko Calera got Casey Blake to fly out. Ethier had half of the Dodgers' six hits. "I like my chances going into the seventh inning in a tie ballgame at home -- just today it wasn't to be," said manager Joe Torre. "From the seventh inning on, we couldn't come out of the bullpen and get the job done. They came off the bench and did some work too. All three pinch-hitters reached base. They did their job better than we did today." Kershaw was charged with three runs (two earned) in six innings with three walks and six strikeouts. But he considered himself the victim of bad luck as much as anything, saying he didn't pitch much differently than he had when he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning at Florida on May 17. "When you're going good like I have been, hits that aren't supposed to fall in, don't," said Kershaw, who had his fourth consecutive quality start. "Tonight, those balls found holes all night. It's kind of frustrating, you know? They got a lot of runs with two outs and a lot of the hits were with two strikes. I wasn't able to put hitters away. A lot of those hits tonight were outs in Florida. Give them a lot of credit, but they didn't necessarily tear the cover off the ball."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.