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Different Day, Same Results for Dodgers

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Things are starting to become dangerous for the Dodgers. Held without an extra-base hit for the first time this season, the Dodgers left 12 men on base and were 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position in their 11-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. However the story of the game for the second consecutive day was the pitching.

A day removed from Clayton Kershaw’s disastrous outing, Chad Billingsley continued the woes for Dodger starters by giving up four consecutive singles with the last one hit by Prince Fielder that scored two.

Things took a strange turn after Casey McGehee flied out to center. Jim Edmonds swung on a third strike which originally was ruled a wild pitch that allowed Ryan Braun to score and Fielder was credited with a stolen base for taking second. It was eventually ruled a pass ball on catcher Russell Martin and Fielder was still credited with a stolen base.

Alcides Escobar then hit a fly ball that grazed the glove of center fielder Matt Kemp but was ruled a triple that scored Fielder.

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Pass ball. Wild pitch. Triple. Error. Stolen base. Advance on throw. Whatever the hell happened, it amounted to four runs in the first inning that Chad Billingsley gave up.

“That thing happened so quickly,” manager Joe Torre said about the first inning.

“The reason they got some hits: he didn’t locate as well as he did after that. [Pitching coach Rick] Honeycutt went in and looked at it and said he left a couple of breaking balls in.”

“They were aggressive early in the count,” Billingsley explained. “That’s it.”

Brewers’ starter Doug Davis whom the Dodgers remember from his days with the Arizona Diamondbacks didn’t fare too well in the first inning either giving up four singles of his own yielding two runs on RBI by James Loney and Casey Blake. However he avoided the extra-curricular nonsense keeping the Brewers lead to 4-2.

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Both pitchers settled down with Billingsley shutting out the Brewers the remaining five innings he pitched giving up only two more hits while walking two and hitting a batter.

“I had to change my game plan going into the next five innings,” Billingsley said. “I kept the team in the game. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

“I thought Billingsley pitched a hell of a game after that first inning,” Torre said.

It sure looked like the Dodgers would make a comeback when they cut into the lead in the sixth inning on a Garret Anderson pinch-hit RBI single off of reliever Carlos Villanueva to shave the deficit to 4-3. Anderson broke a 0-for-17 streak he had going since his pinch-hit two-run homer in Cincinnati on April 22.

But the bullpen decided to implode in the eighth inning. Ronald Belisario after pitching a scoreless seventh in relief of Billingsley gave up a walk, a sacrifice bunt, a walk and an RBI pinch-hit single to Craig Counsell to give the Brewers the 5-3 lead.

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Ramon Troncoso came in to finish out the eighth inning and despite having three days of rest - the most he had this season - had his worst outing of the season giving up three singles and a walk for the Brewers 9-3 lead.

And not to be outdone George Sherrill gave up the final two runs in the ninth on a Rickie Weeks 2-RBI single.

The defense didn’t help out the pitching with Casey Blake making a throwing error to first base in the seventh inning on a sharply hit grounder by lead-off hitter Rickey Weeks and a fielding error bobbling a grounder by Jody Gerut in the ninth inning.

Blake was also part of a botched run-down in the eighth inning when Gomez was caught between second and third base on a Ryan Braun single to right. Andre Ethier threw the ball to Blake at third who threw it to Belliard at second as shortstop Jamey Carroll was covering the play behind Blake at third. Belliard tossed the ball back to Blake and also went to third to cover the play.

With two fielders at third, it left no one on second as Blake ran towards second base to try and tag Gomez. Gomez beat out Blake and was safe on second.

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“The run-down play was weird,” Torre noted. “Second base is for whoever wants it. It could be the first baseman. It could be the right fielder. [Carroll] on the throw in was on his way to back up [Blake]. So he never got a chance to around over there because he’s the wildcard in that situation. It doesn’t look good. I’m not giving an excuse.”

Despite that Torre stressed that pitching will help steady the ship.

“Pitching is going to be the main part of what we do,” Torre said. “We just need to get working and producing on a lot of different aspects of this game.”

With the deadly combination of injured players, inconsistent starters, hold-you-breath bullpen and I’m-afraid-to-watch-this defense, it’s hard to see how this ship stops teetering any time soon.