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Dodgers Shooting Blanks Against D-backs

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As documented here the Dodgers need strong starting pitching in order to have any chance of winning a game. Dodger starters certainly have been doing their part recording seven consecutive quality starts. Unfortunately Ted Lilly (L, 3-4) couldn’t keep the streak going with a four-run second inning in the Dodgers 4-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Lilly had an inauspicious start to the top of the second inning by walking Stephen Drew. Then came the back-to-back homers by Xavier Nady and Ryan Roberts, both landing in the Dodger bullpen in left field and both on 1-0 pitches. And just to add more intrigue Lilly hit Miguel Montero with a 70 mph curveball for the first of two times.

“Teddy doesn’t have overpowering stuff, so he gets burned at times,” manager Don Mattingly said.

Montero came around to score on Chris Young’s sacrifice fly to left field giving the Diamondbacks their first four-run inning since April 12.

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As bad as that one inning for Lilly was, the Dodger offense looked just as bad for most of the game. After D-backs’ starter Ian Kennedy (W, 4-1) walked Matt Kemp to load the bases in the first inning, James Loney took the first pitch he saw and flew out to shallow center field.

“I always like our guys to feel the pitcher is in trouble,” Mattingly said. “I’m not sure what James was looking for there.”

Dioner Navarro struck out swinging to end the threat and leaving the Dodgers with a Major League-worst .100 batting average with the bases loaded.

“It definitely takes the momentum out of our side of the field,” Mattingly explained about coming up empty. “You’d like to get a run there.”

The only real offense for the Dodgers in the first eight innings came from Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles who combined for five base hits. In the third inning after Carroll led off with a double, Miles brought him home with a single for the Dodgers’ lone run. But the lack of offense doesn’t faze Miles.

“I have no doubt the hitting will come around,” he said.

As bad as things were, the Dodgers still had a chance in the ninth inning. Loney hit a leadoff double and Juan Uribe had a one-out walk on D-backs’ closer J.J. Putz. Pinch hitter and tying run Rod Barajas, who was batting .455 in 12 plate appearances against Putz coming into the game, hit a long fly ball to center field.

“I knew I hit it pretty good,” Barajas said. “I didn’t know how the ball was carrying today.”

Barajas soon got the answer as the ball landed in centerfielder Young’s glove.

“I’d like to have seen it a little more left-center,” Mattingly said. “I knew he hit it pretty good. He had a good shot.”

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Jerry Sands popped up to end the threat and the game.

“We just haven’t been able to get those big hits that you need to be able to get yourself on the board to crack through,” Mattingly said. “We haven’t been able to put the crooked number up there and that’s frustrating.”

Not frustrating, surprisingly enough, was the performance of the beleaguered bullpen. Having had to call up reinforcements from the Minor Leagues, left-handed reliever Scott Elbert answered the call striking out the side in order in the eighth inning in his first Major League appearance since May 29, 2010 in Colorado.

“It felt good to be back out there,” Elbert said after working on his timing while back down in the Minors. “Just more relaxed.”

And in his Major League debut mere hours after arriving in Los Angeles, Javy Guerra retired the side notching his first strikeout and catching Young stealing second after a bloop single.

“Overall I was more anxious than nervous,” Guerra said about the anticipation. “I’m just happy to get out there and perform.”

And although Navarro tossed Guerra’s first strikeout ball into the crowd as the inning ended, Guerra did get the ball back.

“I believe they ended up talking to someone and ended up getting it back,” Guerra said.

“I didn’t really notice until someone brought it up. Walking off the field I was just taken by everything else that I wasn’t worried about the ball so much.”