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Dodgers Can't Catch the Marlins

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In his last two starts, Dodgers’ starter John Ely rebounded from what was an awful June up to that point going seven innings each and giving up one earned run in each game. The Florida Marlins paid no mind to it and rocked Ely (4-6) to the tune of six runs in 2 2/3 innings and the loss - a deficit too much to overcome for the Dodgers in their 6-5 loss.

Ely was bad from the start. Back to back singles by Chris Coghlan and Gaby Sanchez; Hanley Ramirez hitting a sacrifice fly to right field to score Coghlan; a comebacker by Dan Uggla that deflected off of Ely and squirted to shallow right field; a Cody Ross grounder that scored Sanchez; an uncharacteristic walk to Wes Helms. He finally got Ronny Paulino to ground out to end the first inning and escape with only two runs to his name.

“I felt ready to go,” Ely said on coming out of the pen before the game. “I felt like I executed some good pitches. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Things didn’t get any easier for Ely. With Valley native and Marlins right fielder Mike Stanton coming to the plate with his own cheering section in the stands, he led off the second inning with a double down the left field line that had left fielder Reed Johnson misjudging the bounce off the wall. After Nate Robertson laid down a sacrifice bunt to get Stanton over the third base, catcher Russell Martin did nothing to help his pitcher’s cause. After the first strike to Coghlan, Martin faked a throw to third base. Not content with the fake, Martin made an ill-advised throw that could conservatively be described as “wide left” of third allowing Stanton to come home for the Marlins 3-0 lead.

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Martin atoned for himself in the bottom of the second hitting a single up the middle to bring Casey Blake home from third cutting the lead to 3-1.

But Ely’s troubles weren’t over. He was undone by five singles up the middle in the third inning by Ramirez, Uggla, Ross, Helms and Robertson which yielded three runs. After two outs Ely was gone and Jeff Weaver was left holding the pieces getting Coghlan to fly out to left field to end the inning.

“He didn’t locate,” Torre said of Ely’s pitches. “He got behind in a lot of counts and didn’t leave much guesswork to the hitter.”

Thanks to Jeff Weaver’s season-high 3 1/3 hitless innings and Ronald Belisario’s career-long three scoreless innings, the Dodgers were able to play the catch-up game. Weaver has lowered his ERA at Dodger Stadium to 1.23 and have limited opponents to a .176 average at home. Despite the unforeseen work, Weaver doesn’t feel much worse for the wear.

“Right now it’s all good,” Weaver said.

Torre was very happy about the performance of his bullpen. “Weaver and Belisario were spotless,” Torre said. “They gave us a chance to catch up and put ourselves in position to tie or maybe win the game.”

Unfortunately the Dodgers weren’t able to make that comeback though they made a valiant attempt at it.

In the bottom of the third inning with James Loney batting with two outs and Matt Kemp on first and Ronnie Belliard at third, Kemp stole second base. However the throw from catcher Paulino caused shortstop Ramirez to fall over a sliding Kemp which allowed Belliard a free path to home plate cutting the lead to 6-2.

Rafael Furcal, batting .356 with four homers and 22 RBI since coming back from the disabled list on May 25 and snubbed for a spot on the All-Star team, brought the Dodgers even closer in the fourth inning with a two-out two-run homer for a 6-4 deficit. He has now scored a run in 11 consecutive games, the longest such streak for a Dodger since Shawn Green did it from September 9 to September 19, 2002.

“I tried to get my best hit because before I hit a fly ball,” Furcal said about his approach in that at-bat. “He made a pitch right down the middle, and I made good contact.”

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He insists that this was not revenge on his snub.

“It doesn’t matter,” Furcal said. “They pick the people. All that matters is today.”

In the eighth inning with Andre Ethier on second with two outs, Loney hit a double down the left field line to being the Dodgers to within one run.

Furcal stood there with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against Marlins’ closer Leo Nuñez. After working a 3-1 count, he took a strike and swung a whole bunch of air to end the game.

“I was trying to get on base,” Furcal said.

Marlins’ starter Nate Robertson (6-6) got the win going six innings and giving up four runs, three earned, on seven hits, and Leo Nuñez got his eighteenth save by pitching a 1-2-3 ninth striking out one.

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