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Dodgers Continue Woes at Home

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Pittsburgh Pirates defeat LA Dodgers 2-0. With the cold blustery winds making Dodger Stadium seem more like Candlestick Park, a strange night was to be expected. The Dodgers only managed four hits while stranding seven base runners in their 2-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After Clayton Kershaw (1-1) walked two and struck out two to start the game, Matt Kemp misplayed a soft line drive by Garrett Jones that dropped and got behind him. Generously ruled a triple by the official scorer, it allowed the two walks to score giving the Pirates the early 2-0 lead.

“I just missed it,” Kemp said. “I should have went to try and catch it or back off of it and let one run score and leave that other run on third base.”

Jones returned the favor in the third inning when he misplayed a line drive by Blake DeWitt in a similar fashion to Kemp. DeWitt ended up on third while the play was officially ruled a single and an error on Jones.

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Things would get even stranger right after that when after Kershaw walked a wild pitch prompted Kershaw to make a run for second. However catcher Ryan Doumit threw Kershaw out at second though on replay he appeared safe. Russell Martin grounded to third to end the inning.

“I thought I was safe,” Kershaw said, “but the umpire called me out. Regardless it probably wasn’t the smartest decision to go.”

Kershaw while not as superb as his last outing against the Giants’ Barry Zito, did a good job going 6 1/3 innings giving up only the two runs in the first inning. In the 117 pitches he made, he yielded only three hits and four walks, one intentional, while striking out seven. However the two walks he made to open the game were the game breakers.

“I really wasn’t in rhythm to start the game,” Kershaw said. “I felt off.”

What really bit the Dodgers were the missed scoring opportunities against Pirates’ starter Brian Burres (1-1).

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In the fourth inning with Andre Ethier on second and Kemp on third and one out, the Dodgers could not bring either man home.

In the fifth inning after DeWitt grounded a double to right field, Kershaw on a sacrifice bunt opportunity decided to swing the bat hitting a dribbler back to the box failing to advance DeWitt.

Martin struck out and Garret Anderson popped up in foul territory to third baseman Andy LaRoche to end that threat.

In the sixth inning after Ethier and Casey Blake walked with one out driving starter Brian Burres out of the game, James Loney and Jamey Carroll both grounded to third off of reliever Jack Taschner to end the threat.

The Dodgers would wind up going 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

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“It’s frustrating,” manager Joe Torre said. “After that first inning [Kershaw] pitched a heck of a ballgame. We’re just in a slump right now.”

“We had a couple of chances to get some runs, but we couldn’t get that big hit,” Kemp said.

Taschner came up big for the Pirates whose bullpen was taxed after a 14-inning game against the Milwaukee Brewers the afternoon before. Having been scored upon in his last two outings, he shutdown the Dodgers for 2 2/3 innings while striking out two.

Dodger relievers weren’t bad themselves with Ramon Troncoso, Hong-Chih Kuo and Jonathan Broxton combining for 2 2/3 innings of shutout two-hit ball. Broxton has now pitched eight scoreless innings to start the season allowing just four hits while striking out 12.

And while a lot of the talk early in the season has been about shoddy defensive play, it must be noted that Martin made a spectacular jumping catch on a pop foul ball hit by Lastings Milledge in the fifth inning right landing against the netting behind home plate.

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Despite losing their fifth consecutive game matching their longest losing streak from last season and being shut out for the fourth time this season, Kemp tried to overcome the somberness in the clubhouse.

“We’ll be all right,” he said with a snicker. “We’ll be all right.”

Tonight’s Action

LA Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder. Game 6 of the first round of the NBA Playoffs. Lakers lead 3-2. 6:30 pm KCAL9, ESPN, AM 710 KSPN.

Pittsburgh Pirates (10-12) at LA Dodgers (8-14). Charlie Morton (0-4, 16.20 ERA) vs. Chad Billingsley (1-1, 5.40 ERA). 7:10 pm FS Prime Ticket, AM 790 KABC.

LA Angels (12-11) at Detroit Tigers (13-10). Joel Pineiro (2-2, 3.42 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (1-2, 7.91 ERA). 4:05 pm FSWest, AM 830 KLAA.