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Dodgers Lose to Tigers and First Place in NL West

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The magic of Lima Time could not propel the Dodgers this somber Sunday afternoon. With the centerfield flags flying half-mast in remembrance of Jose Lima, the Dodgers were frustrated by Tigers’ pitching losing 6-2.

The Tigers’ 21-year old starter Rick Porcello confounded the Dodgers’ hitters keeping them off balance with his mix of fastballs and sliders. After allowing a baserunner, Porcello calmly shut down any further advances by the Dodgers repeatedly.

“He pitched well,” manager Joe Torre commented after the game. “We hit some balls hard. We had some opportunities. It just wasn’t supposed to be.”

In the first inning after Russell Martin led off the bottom of the first with a single, Xavier Paul struck out and Matt Kemp lined to the Porcello for a double play.

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After Casey Blake walked in the second inning with one out, Porcello got Garret Anderson to ground into a double play.

In the fourth inning after back-to-back one-out singles to Paul and Kemp, James Loney hit a sharp grounder that hit Porcello on the hip. Porcello was still able to throw to second for the force play. After the trainers and manager Jim Leyland attended to Porcello he got Blake to ground to third to end the inning.

It looked to be much of the same in the fifth inning with Blake DeWitt and Jamey Carroll hitting one-out singles. However Porcello couldn’t recover walking Martin to load the bases. Finally Xavier Paul got the sorely needed hit grounding a single to left center field to bring DeWitt and Carroll home cutting the deficit to 3-2.

But Porcello would redeem himself in the sixth inning when he got himself into a bases loaded jam yet again. With pitcher Hiroki Kuroda due to bat, Torre took him out of the game in favor of pinch hitter Manny Ramirez. Manny promptly responded by grounding the first pitch softly to third.

“We’ve come from behind quite a few times this season,” Blake said noting the Dodgers’ mindset being behind. “We still had a chance to win.”

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“We’ve had good at-bats, we got a lot of hits,” Torre said. “We just couldn’t put any runs on the board.”

As for the Tigers who have been muted on offense here at Dodger Stadium, they exploded in the first inning off of Kuroda. Johnny Damon led the game off with a double. Magglio Ordoñez singled him home, and Miguel Cabrera took a 0-1 pitch deep to the left field box seats for his 10th homer of the season to give the Tigers the quick 3-0 lead.

“Some pretty good pitchers got him,” Torre said of Kuroda’s first inning.

Kuroda however would rebound after that first inning and yield only three more singles and a walk in his six innings.

“I thought he pitched great after that,” Torre said. “He gave us a strong outing. He would have gone out there for the [seventh] inning if his spot didn’t come up there with the bases loaded.”

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“The difference is I didn’t give up any runs after the first inning,” Kuroda jokingly remarked through interpreter Kenji Nimura when asked what the difference was between the first inning and the rest of his outing.

“On the pitch where I gave up the home run, the location wasn’t bad. [Cabrera] was obviously waiting on the pitch inside so I could have thrown it inside more now that I think about it.”

Ordoñez also hit a solo homer to left field in the eighth inning off of Dodgers’ reliever Ronald Belisario to give the Tigers the 4-2 lead.

After Belisario walked Brandon Inge and gave up a one-out single to Danny Worth in the ninth inning, George Sherrill came into the game. Pinch hitter Adam Everett squeezed Inge home and Damon singled in Worth for the 6-2 Tiger lead.

And with the Tigers’ Major League-best 2.39 ERA the Tigers ceded no ground. Rick Perry and Phil Coke gave up a single and a walk in the seventh and eighth innings while closer Jose Valverde saved the game in the ninth improving the Tigers’ record to 16-0 when they lead after six innings.

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Despite the loss, the Dodgers still won the interleague series against the Tigers 2-1 and have not lost a series since losing two of three to the Milwaukee Brewers from May 4 to 6. With a Major League-best 16-5 record in May, the Dodgers still have confidence in their game despite dropping to second place in the NL West.

“I’m pleased with the way we’re playing,” Torre commented. “We started grinding. Hopefully we continue to do that.”