Jul 10

Step 1: Sweep the Padres


Gus Ruelas/APTony Gwynn Jr. scores the Dodgers’ first run as Padres third baseman Chase Headley throws the ball away.

It’s a small step no matter how you look at it – back toward the division race, or away from the rebuilding that need take place – but it’s a step nonetheless.

Andre Ethier hit two home runs, ending the Dodgers’ drought, and Ted Lilly allowed one but otherwise pitched solidly for five innings, and Los Angeles defeated San Diego, 4-1. For the Dodgers, it’s their first series sweep and first four-game winning streak of the year.

The first inhale of the last gasp has been a healthy one. After the All-Star break, six straight games against the National League West leaders.

Jul 08

Save la Guerra: Dodgers escape with 1-0 victory


Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireCelebrating survival.

The last Dodger save was June 19, when Javy Guerra pitched a final shutout inning after the Dodgers scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the eighth.

That was a romp in the park compared to what happened tonight.

Guerra again pitched a final shutout inning after the Dodgers scored the game’s only run in the bottom of the eighth, but not until after he allowed a leadoff double and hit two consecutive batters – one bunting – to load the bases with none out.

As panic, bitterness and despair reigned and rained, Guerra pulled himself together and struck out the next two batters, before Matt Kemp chased down a sinking liner by Jason Bartlett to preserve the Dodgers’ 1-0 victory.

Rafael Furcal’s RBI single drove in the go-ahead run (after A.J. Ellis and Tony Gwynn Jr. each reached base for the second time in the game), boosting Chad Billingsley to victory in his second consecutive eight-inning performance and the Dodgers’ second shutout in two nights. Billingsley lowered his ERA in his past four starts to 1.32.

Jul 08

And a good night was had by all …

Jamey Carroll called a players’ only meeting before Thursday’s dominant 6-0 victory by Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details. Meetings like this can’t save a season, but it sounds like it was a positive event.

ESPNLosAngeles.com also has a piece that you might call “The State of Vin Scully,” featuring an interview with the man himself.

The biggest local baseball news is the Angels’ promotion of 19-year-old super-prospect Mike Trout to replace an injured Peter Bourjos. Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com has more.  The timing is funny because this was happening right around the time that Rich Lederer of Baseball Analysts, at Thursday’s fun Fangraphs panel (thanks to everyone there for hosting), was extolling the virtues of Trout, saying that he would sign the player to a 10-year-contract right now.

Jul 06

Latest loss leaves one longing for 2009


Two years ago tonight, the Dodgers were 52-30, seven games better than any other team in the National League, three games better than any team in the majors.

Manny Ramirez, nowadays the subject of much ridicule (renewed by his recent appearance in the Dodgers’ bankruptcy filing), had just come off the suspended list – and, contrary to what people might have expected or might remember, was about to begin a massive hot streak. Over the next two weeks, Ramirez would go 15 for 41 with seven extra-base hits and six walks, for a .458 on-base percentage and .707 slugging percentage.

On July 21, Ramirez was hit by a pitch on the left hand. That injury forced him to the bench the following night, the night the Dodgers were giving away Manny Ramirez bobbleheads.  He came on to pinch-hit in the bottom of the sixth inning with the bases loaded and … Bobbleslam.

The Dodgers were 61-34.

The contrast between then and now is so sharp. The idea of a losing Dodger team is no longer alien, the fact that the team’s losing streak grew to five games with tonight’s 5-3 loss to the Mets is no surprise. These Dodgers are 37-51, all but reversing the performance of their 2009 counterparts. Then – Manny’s curtain call. Now – scrub’s scrub Eugenio Velez tagged out, not even halfway to first base, on a grounder to end the game.

Every single game this week, a Dodger starting pitcher has pitched well heading into the sixth inning, before faltering without rescue. Every single game, you might have cynically felt the inevitability of defeat, yet if you’re anything like me, not quite believed that the result could be so predetermined every single time. In fact, after Hiroki Kuroda let a 1-1 tie become a 4-1 deficit in the top of the sixth, the Dodgers came back to score two runs in the bottom of the inning. They had scored three runs, their highest total since Friday.  And there were still three innings to go.

But we are a long, long way from 2009.

Chris Pizzello/APJoe Torre waits as Manny Ramirez, with an OPS of 1.129 at the time, has his hand examined after being hit by a pitch on July 21, 2009.

The 1988 season has been our touchstone, and will continue to be for some time, maybe for our entire lifetimes. But it’s clear to me that 2009 is an underappreciated season. The offense was solid at every position, with the weakest link being Russell Martin, who still managed a .352 on-base percentage at catcher. Juan Pierre split the Dodger community in two, but even if you thought he was overrated as the team’s spiritual MVP, he was useful and sometimes heroic. Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp were blossoming. James Loney was still promising. Casey Blake was one of the better third basemen in the NL. Rafael Furcal managed to stay healthy for 150 games. Cycle-hitter Orlando Hudson sparkled until he was overtaken by the red-hot Ronnie Belliard. Other than handwringing over Ramirez’s suspension, there was little more to gripe over than Kemp batting eighth nearly a couple dozen times.

The starting rotation wasn’t spectacular, but it was capable, with 21-year-old Clayton Kershaw posting a 2.79 ERA and Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla providing late season assistance after Chad Billingsley hit a rough spot. Jonathan Broxton, Ramon Troncoso and Ronald Belisario, none older than 26, led a dominant bullpen that went into overdrive when midseason pickup George Sherrill allowed only two earned runs in 27 2/3 innings.

It is Broxton, of course, who is considered the poison in this tale. He began the 2009 playoffs with five consecutive games of doing his job. In the sixth, Game 4 of the 2009 NLCS, he brought on infamy. And it’s understandable that fans today might be even more bitter toward the reliever, who spoiled a great team’s chance to even up the NLCS at 2-2 and catapult toward that long-awaited World Series title.

Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesJuan Uribe and Eugenio Velez, two of your 2011 Dodgers, look for some cheer before the game.

But whether you credit Broxton, who in the regular season had 36 saves in 42 opportunities and 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings, for helping the Dodgers get in position to win a championship, or whether you hold him accountable for the failure to achieve the dream, it’s remarkable to think of where the Dodgers and their fans were two years ago. Out of our minds with elation at the rebounding hero Ramirez. Somersaulting over the Game 2 NLDS bottom-of-the-ninth comeback win over St. Louis. On seats’ edge as Broxton threw that 1-1 pitch to Jimmy Rollins, one out away from the latest, biggest victory.

I am someone who asks what might have been. There isn’t a year that goes by that I don’t question decisions I made a decade or two ago. I’ve made mistakes as bad as the fastball Broxton threw to Rollins and wondered “what if?” But I can’t look back at 2009 now without instinctively feeling good about it, recalling so many wonderful times. And thinking that even with its short-circuited ending, how gladly would I take it back. And thinking how far away it seems.

Jul 04

No-hit threat met with regret


Gus Ruelas/APRubby De La Rosa allowed three runs on five hits – all after the sixth inning began.

Man, I was on edge tonight – preparing to head out to the local park to see fireworks while Rubby De La Rosa was working on a no-hitter, which he took into the sixth inning while averaging barely 10 pitches per inning. What might I miss?

But in what became a veritable repeat of Sunday’s game, a dominant performance by a Dodger starting pitcher cracked, and the offense wasn’t there to make up the difference, with the Dodgers losing to the Mets, 5-2.

Los Angeles finds itself in a position where it must start to worry about how far it is falling out of fourth place, let alone first. San Diego’s victory over San Francisco kept the Dodgers 11 games out in the National League West but dropped them to two games behind the fourth-place Padres.

* * *

Thanks to a peculiar combination of good starting pitching and bad most everything else, the Dodgers continue to have very few save opportunities.

The time a relief pitcher entered a game with a chance to earn a save was when Blake Hawksworth technically had the opportunity to pitch the final three innings of the Dodgers’ 15-0 victory in Minnesota on June 27. The last Dodger save opportunity that didn’t depend on the three-inning save rule was when Javy Guerra closed out the Dodgers’ 1-0 victory over Houston on June 19, more than two weeks ago.

Jonathan Broxton picked up his seventh save May 2; he hasn’t pitched for the Dodgers since May 3. The Dodgers have eight saves in 56 games since Broxton’s last save. Scott Elbert and Guerra have the Dodgers’ only two saves since May 25, a span of 36 games.

Officially, the Dodgers have been successful on 16 of 21 save opportunities in 86 games this season. Broxton was 7 for 8, Vicente Padilla 3 for 3, Guerra is 2 for 2, and the rest of the staff 4 for 8. For comparison, Broxton had 19 saves by himself before the All-Star break last season, which I suppose isn’t that big a discrepancy from what would have happened this year if he had stayed healthy.

Jul 04

Sunk

Did I already mention how heartbroken I was that Chad Billingsley’s one-hit shutout turned into a complete-game 3-1 defeat? No, I didn’t, because 15 hours later, I’m just now pulling together the wherewithal to do so. That Russell Branyan home run brought on the funk, and not the fun kind of funk.

Jul 02

Kershaw hexed and vexed in 7-1 defeat

It’s not as if Clayton Kershaw didn’t have a role in the Dodgers’ 7-1 loss to the Angels tonight, but he wasn’t alone.

With the game scoreless in the third inning, Dee Gordon’s decision to throw home after backhanding a grounder with a runner on third and one out backfired, with the runner being safe and the inning extended by the fielder’s choice for Vernon Wells’ two-out,  two-run homer to give the Angels a 3-0 lead.

In the fourth, Kershaw might have been cheated of a double play when Gordon was ruled to have missed a tag at second base. Softly hit singles by Erick Aybar and Bobby Abreu drove in three more runs, making the score 6-0.

And in the sixth, the Angels added an unearned run thanks to Gordon’s second throwing error of the game.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers mustered only four hits and two walks off Jered Weaver, who easily won the rematch of the two staff aces.

On the bright side for Kershaw (who also made his own flub in the first inning by covering first late on a grounder to James Loney), he struck out 10 in six innings, boosting his K/9 average this season to double-figures at 10.12. Pretty incredible.

Jul 01

Dee Gordon steals second, (third), home and the show


Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesRoadrunner escapes again.

On a night that featured Tony Gwynn Jr. reaching base six times and Aaron Miles five, and Hiroki Kuroda pitching seven shutout innings, the spotlight was swiped by Dee Gordon, who stole second and home in the seventh inning and should have been credited with a steal of third in the same frame as well, if not for an arcane official scoring decision. Dodgers 5, Angels 0.

With Rafael Furcal due to return to the majors Sunday, Gordon, who also made a fantastic catch in the ninth, might be headed back to Albuquerque, though at this point that looks more like a career detour than a final destination.

Jun 29

Rubby a gem, Dodger offense a hologram in 1-0 defeat


Jesse Johnson/US PresswireRubby De La Rosa went a career-high seven innings.

Well, you knew this was coming.

It took less than two days for the Dodgers to go from scoring 15 runs in one game to being shut out in another — a 1-0 loss at the hands of the Twins.

It was not an entirely sad day, thanks to the progress shown by Dodger rookie Rubby De La Rosa, who completed a career-high seven innings in 99 pitches, allowing six hits and two walks (one intentional) while striking out four. The low walk total was also a career-best for De La Rosa as a starter.

On his third pitch of the game, De La Rosa gave up a triple to Twins leadoff hitter Ben Revere, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka drove in Revere with a groundout. That was it for Minnesota against the Dodger rookie, but it was more than enough for Minnesota against the Dodger offense.

The Twins could have made things worse, but they went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.

The Dodgers’ biggest missed opportunity might have been in the third inning, when Dee Gordon stole third base with one out. But Casey Blake missed a chance to push Gordon the final 90 feet by fouling out, and then Andre Ethier struck out.

In all, the Dodgers had eight baserunners, three of them in scoring position. The eight baserunners were spread across seven different innings. Twins starting pitcher Scott Baker (3.15 ERA) struck out nine and walked one in 7 1/3 innings.

Fans in Los Angeles ended their lunch hours with the Dodgers alone in last place, 11 games behind National League West-leading San Francisco on the penultimate day of June, edging closer to the point where even general manager Ned Colletti might start to concede the season.

Most games behind in National League West by Dodgers after 82 games

Year After 82 games Final
1979 17 GB 11 1/2 GB
1990 12 1/2 GB 5 GB
1992 14 1/2 GB 35 GB
1998 12 1/2 GB 15 GB
1999 11 1/2 GB 23 GB
2011 11 GB*

*pending outcome of today’s remaining games

Jun 28

Dodgers can’t overcome Lilly’s struggles in 6-4 loss


Hannah Foslien/Getty ImagesTony Gwynn couldn’t catch Alexi Casilla’s drive but threw him out trying to advance to third base for his seventh outfield assist of the season.

Ted Lilly will get his act together before Major League Vaudeville bids him adieu, maybe sometime soon, but he’s gettin’ tomatoes thrown at him right now.

Lilly allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings (81 pitches), meaning that over his past three starts, Lilly has allowed 17 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings. He had at least been striking out batters, but tonight the player who is fifth in the National League in strikeout/walk ratio didn’t have it, striking out none. (Trivia: Most pitches by a Dodger pitcher this century without a strikeout … Carlos Perez, 101 on May 3, 2000.)

Lilly put the Dodgers in a 4-1 hole, but Los Angeles came back for three in the top of the fifth inning in a rally started by Aaron Miles’ first major-league home run since September 16, 2008 and ending with Andre Ethier’s two-run single off Twins lefty Brian Duensing. Lilly then surrendered the lead in the bottom of the frame on a two-run homer by Luke Hughes, the 16th homer Lilly has allowed in 17 starts.

The Dodgers mounted another rally in the seventh inning, but came up scoreless in what amounted to a reversal of fortune from Sunday, when they rode two close calls to a walkoff victory over the Angels. First, Tony Gwynn Jr. was ruled out on what appeared to be an infield single that would have put two runners on with one out. Then, Jamey Carroll was thrown out on a close play trying to score on Casey Blake’s single.

The Dodgers put two baserunners on in the ninth inning, but Casey Blake grounded out and that was the ballgame, leaving only this question: On what planet is it a good idea for Dioner Navarro to pinch-hit for Carroll, as occurred with one out in the final inning?

Jun 27

Dodgers opposite of bankrupt in 15-0 romp


Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesTrent Oeltjen

One of my wife’s favorite expressions is “That’s insanity sauce” – tonight, the Dodgers were insanity sauce.

For the first time in their history in Los Angeles, all nine Dodger starters had a hit, a run and an RBI in the team’s biggest shutout victory since 1969, 15-0 over the Twins.

The boxscore is suitable for framing, starting with four hits for each starting outfielder (another first). Tony Gwynn Jr., Matt Kemp and Trent Oeltjen, who came within 80 feet of a cycle-completing double in the ninth inning before retreating to first. The hit totals for Gwynn and Oeltjen were career highs, while Kemp hit his National League-leading 22nd home run, measured at 444 feet to dead center. Los Angeles scored in seven of nine innings.

Casey Blake added two singles and a homer, and Andre Ethier, James Loney, Juan Uribe and A.J. Ellis each had two singles for the Dodgers, who finished with a Los Angeles Dodgers record-tying 25 hits, at least two by every starter.

On the mound, Chad Billingsley pitched six shutout innings (aided by Gwynn and Dee Gordon combining to throw a runner out at the plate), followed by one each by Blake Hawksworth, Hong-Chih Kuo and Scott Elbert. The relievers combined for seven strikeouts and didn’t allow a baserunner save for Gordon’s fielding error.

Savor it.

* * *

The Platoon Advantage wondered what a contemporary MLB expansion draft might look like, so they enlisted help from the multitudes of team bloggers, including myself, to stage one. The Dodgers lost Aaron Miller and Ted Lilly, who was the highest-salaried player in baseball who was taken in the mock draft (in the second round). The draft was over before a third Dodger was taken.

* * *

Jonathan Broxton had a new MRI for his right elbow, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Jun 26

Kershaw finds happy ending in 3-2 comeback win

The frame of mind to have for Sunday’s Jered Weaver-Clayton Kershaw matchup was pretty basic: Revel in two out-of-sight pitchers, and just hope for the best as far as that whole winning-and-losing thing.

The aces for the Los Angeles Angels and the Los Angeles Dodgers lived up to their advance billing, throwing matching shutouts the first six innings. The Dodgers twice got runners to third base with less than two outs, in the fourth and fifth innings, but the rallies withered on the vine (or, if you can imagine the fans’ reaction, withered on the whine).

In a fast-moving start, Kershaw needed only 26 pitches through three innings and 64 pitches through six. At one point, the Angels’ No. 3-6 hitters had struck out six times in eight at-bats. Plus, Kershaw, who previously this season had made at least two highlight-reel plays on bunts, made another brilliant one in the sixth inning, reaching to backhand a bunt by Weaver and then throwing across his body to double up Jeff Mathis at second base.

In the seventh, however, two bloops got the best of Kershaw. Erick Aybar hit one that a deeply positioned Tony Gwynn Jr. couldn’t reach, and Aybar didn’t stop running, sliding expertly around Gwynn’s offline throw for a double. Then, Howie Kendrick hit a shallow fly to center that Matt Kemp dove for and trapped. Kemp sprung to his feet to throw home, but it was not in time to get Aybar and prevent the first run of the game. Had Kemp played the ball straight up for a single, Aybar would have held at third, but it was close enough that you could understand Kemp’s efforts.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the Dodgers were done at that point, especially with two out and none on in the bottom of the seventh, but Kershaw (who had struck out nine but walked none and only thrown 84 pitches to that point) singled to give the Dodgers a baserunner (and raise his batting average to .297). Gwynn then shocked the Angels with a deep fly to right-center that went off a running Vernon Wells’ glove. Kershaw, running all the way with two out, scored easily on the triple to tie the game.

Vin Scully raised the point that the two-out running might affect Kershaw going into the next inning, and as if to underscore those fears, Kershaw hit Peter Bourjos to start the eighth. Bourjos then went to second when James Loney missed catching a pickoff throw by Dioner Navarro. But with the go-ahead run in scoring position again, Kershaw struck out Bobby Abreu (on a questionable check swing called by third-base umpire Chris Conroy, who ejected Matt Kemp on Saturday), then retired Maicer Izturis on a grounder to third.

Weaver left the game after seven innings and 110 pitches, allowing seven hits and one walk while striking out four, his ERA sliding to 1.97.

There was no doubt that Kershaw should go out for the ninth inning, and he easily retired the first two batters. But on a 3-2 pitch, Wells, who had struck out in his three previous at-bats, slammed Kershaw’s 112th pitch of the game into the left-field seats, a devastating blow on a day Kershaw had dominated. Following a game April 21 against the Braves, it was the second time this season Kershaw had given up a potential game-winning hit when he was one strike away from completing the ninth inning.

Kershaw retired Mark Trumbo on a grounder to finish his day: nine innings, two runs, six hits, no walks, 11 strikeouts … and one home run. Kershaw faced becoming the Dodgers’ eighth pitcher to lose in a complete game since 2000. On the homestand, he pitched 25 innings with 26 strikeouts (including back-to-back complete games with 11 strikeouts), 12 hits, three walks, three runs and a 1.08 ERA. Opponents batted .146 with a .186 on-base percentage and .244 slugging in 86 plate appearances.

Three outs from victory, Angels closer Jordan Walden walked Juan Uribe, who went out for pinch-runner Dee Gordon – who stole second on a close play with Navarro showing bunt. Walden then walked Navarro. Jamey Carroll sacrificed the runners to second and third.

Kershaw’s spot in the order came up, and perhaps you had a passing thought of using the team’s best bunter to try a game-tying squeeze. But, properly I’d say, Aaron Miles (6-for-11 as a pinch-hitter this season, 24-for-57 overall in June) pinch-hit. Miles fell behind 0-2, getting fooled in particular on the second pitch, low and inside.

With the count 1-2, Miles hit a shallow fly that no one but Gordon could try to score on. Bourjos caught it and fired home. Gordon raced home. Mathis blocked the plate, but Gordon seemed to manage to lean over Mathis and get his hand on the plate to tie the game. Incredibly.

Gwynn then came up with pinch-runner Trent Oeltjen on second base and a chance to win it.

On a 2-2 pitch, Gwynn lashed one to right field, a no-doubter hit — his third of the game — that easily scored Oeltjen and set off a huge celebration at Dodger Stadium, led by Kershaw and Kemp, who was the first to reach Gwynn and wrestled him down and practically began punching him in delight. A thoroughly riveting game from start to finish ended with a 3-2 Dodgers victory.

Thanks, we needed that.

Jun 25

Angels 6, Dodgers 1: Loss erected


Gus Ruelas/APKuroda unconfected.

Luck rejected
Hiroki affected
Trumbo connected
Scoreboard infected

Umpire inspected
Kemp ejected
Apoplected
Dodgers dejected

Gwynn elected
No offense detected
Fans dyspepted
Hope unselected

Relievers injected
No help effected
Deficit projected
Doom expected

Jun 24

Dodgers calling out all Angels on basepaths but lose


Mark J. Terrill/APThe defensive stylings of Dioner Navarro, here tagging out Bobby Abreu, were not enough to keep the Dodgers in the lead.

In the first inning tonight, the Angels’ Maicer Izturis was caught stealing and Bobby Abreu was thrown out at home. In the second inning, Mark Trumbo was picked off first by Navarro and Jeff Mathis was thrown out at third. In the third inning, Erick Aybar was picked off first by Navarro. In the sixth inning, Vernon Wells was caught stealing.

Dioner Navarro became the first catcher to be officially recorded with two pickoff throws and two caught stealings in the same game, according to Vin Scully on the Prime Ticket broadcast. And still the Dodgers were down 5-3 heading into the eighth inning.

That’s because Rubby De La Rosa, while throwing heat, allowed four walks, six hits, a double and two home runs. And that’s because, while Matt Kemp was hitting a two-run homer and Andre Ethier was going 3 for 4, the Dodgers were 2 for their first 12 with runners in scoring position.

Meanwhile, Marcus Thames left tonight’s game in the second inning with a strained left calf, raising the possibility that the Dodgers will soon see the return of Jerry Sands (.941 OPS in Albuquerque in June) or the debut of Trayvon Robinson (1.173 OPS in June) in left field if Thames goes on the disabled list.

There’s also talk that Rafael Furcal could move to second base when he returns from the disabled list so that Dee Gordon can stay at short, but I’m not convinced that Gordon doesn’t have a trip to Triple-A left in him.

Update: It got no better for the Dodgers, who gave up three runs (one unearned) in the final two innings of an 8-3 defeat. The Angels retired the final 11 batters for the Dodgers, who went hitless after the fifth inning.

Jun 22

Homer-field disadvantage sinks Lilly, Dodgers

Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesMagglio Ordonez is greeted by Victor Martinez after Ordonez’s two-run home run in the second inning, one of four round-trippers by Detroit today.

Going into today’s game, here were Ted Lilly’s day and night splits for 2011:

Day: .379 on-base percentage, .566 slugging percentage, .945 OPS
Night: .284 on-base percentage, .389 slugging percentage, .683 OPS

That was before Lilly gave up three home runs in the Dodgers’ 7-5 loss to Detroit today, ending Los Angeles’ three-game winning streak. In short, Lilly in the daytime this year has practically been like facing a lineup of nine Matt Kemps.

Last year, the day/night OPS difference for Lilly was .796/.640. Should the Dodgers start keeping Lilly out of day games? That split hasn’t been consistent over the course of his entire career, so maybe it should just be ignored, but it does have me wondering.

The Dodger offense tried to overcome the troubles of Lilly and Matt Guerrier, who got a quick hook after allowing the Tigers’ fourth homer and a single to start the eighth inning. They had their five runs and needed at least two more in the ninth inning when, with one out, Andre Ethier singled and Matt Kemp (triple, two singles, two walks, one steal) got a base on balls. James Loney’s third hit of the day loaded the bases.

Don Mattingly then did perhaps the one thing that has been most vexing about him this year — use his pinch-hitters in frustrating fashion. Instead of saving Casey Blake to bat for Dioner Navarro, Mattingly had Blake bat for Dee Gordon. No matter how raw the rookie is, I don’t know how you could think at this point that Navarro is a better bat — plus, by sending Blake up with one out, Mattingly almost infinitely increased the possibility of a game-ending double play.

Right or wrong, Mattingly watched Blake strike out and Navarro (who also left the bases loaded in the fifth inning) drove one deep to center that Austin Jackson had to run back to catch before hitting the wall. It was a well-hit ball, but with that out went the tenuous momentum the Dodgers had built for the previous three days.