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Dodgers Offense MIA against Dempster, Cubs

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The Dodgers couldn’t counter Cubs starter Ryan Dempster and his quirky delivery losing 3-1.

“He kept us off balance,” center fielder Matt Kemp said of Dempster’s performance.

“Dempster was good all game,” manager Joe Torre said. “He’s been good against us. He knows how to pitch. His pitch count was good in the late innings.”

Dempster went seven-plus innings giving up only one run which was unearned on three hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

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The only run the Dodgers would score was in the home half of the second inning. Kemp reached second base on a throwing error by third baseman Aramis Ramirez. After catcher Russell Martin lined out to right fielder Kosuke Fukudome, Abreu grounded a single up the middle to score Kemp and tie the game at one.

After the second inning Dempster would only give up a single and a walk for the remainder of his outing. The Dodger offense has only score three or more runs twice in this home stand.

“I think you go through that little bit of a dip,” Torre said of the offense. “I don’t think they’re tired. They may be trying a little too hard.”

“I think he’s trying to carry everybody on his shoulders,” Torre continued talking of left fielder Manny Ramirez’s struggles. “He’s getting a little over anxious at the bat.”

“No, I’m just going out there and playing the game,” Ramirez said when asked if he’s putting added pressure on his at-bats. “I’m hitting the ball good. But sometimes I hit it in front of people. I can’t control that.”

Dodger starter Chad Billingsley had a rough going at it the first two innings throwing only two first-pitch strikes to the ten batters he faced.

Billingsley would give up a solo home run to Jake Fox with one out on a 3-2 pitch to left-center field giving the Cubs an early 1-0 lead. That was Fox’s ninth tater of the season.

As if the home run wasn’t enough, Fox hit three more singles in the game to have his first career four-hit game including an RBI single in the sixth inning to give the Cubs the 3-1 lead.

Aramis Ramirez would lead off the inning with a triple to left field thanks to the comic theatrics of Manny. Fukudome would double Aramis Ramirez home and would come home on a Fox single to give the Cubs a 3-1 lead.

“I felt pretty good,” Billingsley said of his start. “I had my off-speed stuff. I struggled early - I really didn’t have my command and wasn’t able to get into a good rhythm.

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“Throughout the course of the game I was able to locate my fast ball and really got into a good rhythm after the first couple of innings.”

“He was all right,” Torre said of Billingsley. “He ran the pitch count up a little bit, but otherwise he did well.”

The Dodgers had a perfect opportunity to rally back in the game in the bottom of the eighth.

Martin walked to lead off the inning running Dempster out of the game. After Cubs reliever John Grabow replaced Dempster, second baseman Tony Abreu then walked.

The controversy came when first baseman Mark Loretta hit into what was ruled a force play at second. Replays showed, however, that second baseman Mike Fontenot was clearly off the bag. Instead of the bases loaded with no outs, the Dodgers were left with runners on first and third with one out.

“I didn’t see a replay, but he looked like he was off the bag when he caught the ball,” Torre said. “But again it’s one of those things you can’t control.”

While the Dodgers could have capitalized on this, pinch hitter Orlando Hudson grounded into a double play to end the inning.

“We are putting a lot of pressure on our starters when we aren’t scoring any runs,” Torre said of the lack of offense. “It just makes it a little bit tougher because every single inning you try to be very careful.”

Well the Dodgers will need to find some offense when they head to Colorado for three games starting on Tuesday. Torre sounded optimistic about facing them.

“We have played them well this year,” Torre said. “We have to continue to do that.”

“It’s two good teams going at it,” Kemp said. “I think we’re ready.”

I hope so. The worst case scenario is that come Friday morning the Dodgers could be in second place in the NL West.