Dodgers drop fourth straight game

Dodgers drop fourth straight game

DENVER -- Jonathan Broxton revealed to reporters Wednesday night that his pitching arm is "sore," verbal confirmation of what opposing bats have been hinting at for weeks. Then he recounted the consoling words he had just received from Takashi Saito.

The 37-year-old Saito told the 23-year-old Broxton to "hang in there" after Broxton served up a game-deciding home run to Brad Hawpe in the bottom of the eighth inning, and who would know better than Saito?

With their season on life support after Saito gave it up in a Rockies doubleheader sweep Tuesday night, the Dodgers' rebound game turned into a crushing replay as they let another win turn into a 6-5 loss. Broxton hadn't given up a home run in more than a year, but he's given up six in a month and in back-to-back games twice.

The Dodgers have 10 games to play and there isn't much to salvage. They seemingly have been eliminated in every way but mathematically, and their own flagship radio station, KFWB, reported this week that there's a clubhouse split between the veterans and kids.

Such is often the result when a season goes south. The Dodgers have slipped into fourth place behind the Rockies, who have never finished ahead of Los Angeles. The Dodgers' magic number for elimination in the division is five, and they dropped into a tie for fifth with Atlanta in the Wild Card race, the four clubs they must jump becoming a greater hurdle than the 5 1/2 games they trail San Diego.

"It's looking near impossible," said starting pitcher Brad Penny, who was in line for a career-high 17th win until Hawpe's home run.

"It's disheartening," said manager Grady Little.

So was the news delivered by Broxton, who made his 80th appearance of the season and said he can feel it in his command, particularly on sliders. Broxton made 79 appearances last year between the Major Leagues and Triple-A.

"I'm a little sore, nothing to make a big deal about," said Broxton, whose fastball continues to be clocked consistently at 97 mph. "It ain't super-sore where it affects me. I can tell it's September, I can tell with my location. I'm hanging some balls. I've made a lot of appearances and stuff. Sometimes it's [a loss of] velocity, a lot of times it's location. My velocity is still there, but I'm missing location. I've got to be able to get the ball down and not in the center of plate. I've got to throw it on the corners."

Hawpe hit a slider, as did Matt Holliday the night before and Ray Durham in a crushing defeat in San Francisco earlier in the month. In 10 appearances over the last 14 days, he has allowed five homers and nine earned runs in 7 1/3 innings. His ERA has jumped from 2.14 to 2.96 and he has been charged with three blown saves.

"What are we going to do? Send him to the Minor Leagues?" said manager Grady Little. "The young man was breezing through the league pretty easily and now he's finding out the league is adjusting. It's not a fatigue situation. It's a situation where they're doing more adjusting than he is. He'll learn. He's just snake-bit right now and he's paying for mistakes with the long ball."

Compounding the frustration about the way this one ended was the way it unfolded. While the Rockies were launching three solo homers against starter Brad Penny, the Dodgers scrambled to erase a pair of deficits as James Loney drove in three runs and Penny chipped in with two hits, an RBI and a run scored.

But summing up the season as well as this game, Little referred to an offensive attack that came up short in firepower again.

"It's another situation where we took a knife to a gunfight," Little said. "We got as much mileage as we could out of our 12 singles and three extra-base hits and they got as much mileage as they could with those balls in the seats."

Despite allowed three home runs (two to MVP candidate Matt Holliday), Penny qualified for a quality start by allowing three earned runs in six innings.

"He's got to be getting tired, as much as he's thrown, and you can't blame him for getting tired," Penny said in defense of Broxton. "If there's one guy I can pick to be out there, it's him. He's our setup guy, you've got to go with him. It's catching up to him. The last two years he's been out there a lot."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.