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Concern Mounts with Jonathan Broxton

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The Dodgers’ 4-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs came down to this: Jonathan Broxton made a mess and Blake Hawksworth couldn’t clean it up.

With the game tied 1-1, Manager Don Mattingly brought in Broxton (L, 1-2) for the top of the ninth inning in a non-save situation. Despite the smattering of boos amongst whatever remained of the crowd of 38,017, things seemed all right after Broxton got Aramis Ramirez to pop out to first base in foul territory.

But consecutive walks to Marlon Byrd and Carlos Pena brought the early hook by Mattingly.

“At that point I can’t really leave him out there,” Mattingly said. “He’s not throwing the ball over the plate.

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“Last night the ball comes out good, aggressive in the strike zone. Today it didn’t look like it was coming out, he wasn’t really throwing strikes.”

The inconsistency confounds everyone including Broxton.

“I don’t know. It’s just baseball. I just wasn’t throwing strikes.”

Perhaps there is a problem with Broxton’s arm?

“I’m a little concerned because I haven’t seen the ball come out that way from him,” pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said. “Got to find out if he’s all right. Didn’t look right obviously, that’s why we made the move.”

Broxton insisted that he was healthy. “Yeah, I’m fine.”

At this point Honeycutt isn’t completely buying it.

“I’m going to talk to Stan [Conte, Director Medical Services] and his crew,” Honeycutt said. “First we have to find out if John is healthy.”

So with runners on first and second with one out, in came Hawksworth. Yet again things looked stabilized when Alfonso Soriano flew out to center. Then came the two-run double by Geovany Soto and the pinch hit RBI single by Blake DeWitt, and the game was essentially over.

All this sullied what was the unlikeliest of pitching duels. Not unusual that Dodgers’ starter Chad Billingsley would be a part of it, but Cubs’ starter Ryan Dempster.

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Mr. Dempster had been sloshing along through the season with a 9.58 ERA and in his last start in Arizona couldn’t get past the first out on April 28 being tagged with seven earned runs on four hits and four walks.

Through the first three frames, Dempster had only given up two walks to the first two batters in Jamey Carroll and Jerry Sands. Then came the man of the clubhouse Andre Ethier in the fourth inning.

After grounding into a double play to account for the first two outs for the Dodgers in the first inning, Andre Ethier unleashed his rage on the bat rack. The exorcism worked.

In Ethier’s next at-bat after the bat slipping from his hands and landing behind the Cubs’ first base dugout, he hit a soft liner above the head of second baseman Darwin Barney’s outstretched arms for a single to right field. His 29-game hit streak tied him for second all-time in franchise history with Zack Wheat in 1916.

The Dodgers finally broke through Dempster with Matt Kemp’s line drive single up the middle allowing Jamey Carroll to score in the sixth inning.

The lead didn’t last as Chad Billingsley gave up a solo homer to the .157-hitting Carlos Pena - the first homer of the season for him - in the seventh inning.

“I was pounding in on him all night,” Billingsley said. “I tried to get a first-pitch change up across and just left it up across the middle. He did what he was supposed to do with it.”

The teams have a short turnaround with a 12:10 p.m. game on getaway Wednesday.

Boston Red Sox defeat LA Angels 7-3.


Dallas Mavericks at LA Lakers. 7:30 p.m. TNT, AM 710 KSPN.

Chicago Cubs at LA Dodgers. 12:10 p.m. FS Prime Ticket, AM 790 KABC.

LA Angels at Boston Red Sox. 4:10 p.m. FSWest, AM 830 KLAA.