Painful first leaves Dodgers hurting in Denver

Painful first leaves Dodgers hurting in Denver

Painful first leaves Dodgers hurting in Denver
DENVER -- While Matt Kemp keeps trying to run through walls, the Dodgers as a team have simply hit one.

For the third consecutive game, the team whose owners spent wildly to win now has lost to a last-place team, dropping a second straight (and the series) to the Rockies on Tuesday night, 8-4, while losing Kemp in the first inning when he was jarred slamming violently into the center-field fence at Coors Field.

There are 32 games left in the season and the Dodgers have slipped 3 1/2 games behind the Giants, their largest deficit of the season. The euphoria of last week's sport-shaking acquisitions has been replaced by the urgency of a season that will slip away unless the star-studded roster starts playing like one.

"It's pretty darn frustrating watching out there and on the bench with our offense," right fielder Andre Ethier said. "Each of us has to look ourselves in the mirror and play better. Maybe that's the key."

Manager Don Mattingly, pressed to explain the defeats, defended the effort.

"I'm not going to sit here and let you tell me we're not trying and we're not inspired," he said. "That's not the case. It doesn't look good right now, but I'm not going to sit here and let anybody tell me we're not trying or not bothered by the loss."

The game started ominously for the Dodgers, who ran out of the first inning with a line drive double play hit by Adrian Gonzalez, then Kemp's frightening collision with the fence on a triple by Josh Rutledge, the second Colorado batter of the game. The Rockies scored four runs -- and Kemp pulled himself from the game -- before that inning was over.

"We got behind the eight ball when they got four runs," Mattingly said. "We got a few chances and got the minimum from those chances instead of being able to extend those innings."

The Dodgers have lost six of their last eight games and are 6-8 against the Rockies this year. Losing starting pitcher Chris Capuano, an 11-game winner instrumental in the club's solid first half, is 2-7 since July 3.

"He's lost a little bit of crispness with the fastball, for me," Mattingly said of Capuano. "A couple games he had it, but when he uses it, his changeup is better, but he hasn't used it quite as much. He's better when he uses the fastball more."

"I'll have to go back and look, but I saw tonight I was hurt more with the off-speed," Capuano said. "He could be on to something. Maybe I need to establish the fastball a little more."

Capuano allowed six runs on 10 hits (six for extra bases) in six innings, and that was with Juan Rivera stealing a home run from Jordan Pacheco with a leaping catch. Wilin Rosario followed with a home run that Rivera could not catch, the young catcher's second homer of the series.

"The at-bats that Wilin Rosario took tonight were very special," Colorado manager Jim Tracy said. "He hit a breaking ball for a home run. That tickled him to death. He did a great job on a couple of the other at-bats staying with pitches and just driving them back through the middle."

Mattingly acknowledged he could have pinch-hit for Capuano with two outs in the top of the fourth inning and runners on the corners, down, 5-1, which would have required at least five innings from the bullpen. Instead, Mattingly chose to stay with Capuano, who struck out.

"If I had September callups [on the roster], I would have hit for him right there," Mattingly said. "But I was two guys short in the bullpen [Brandon League and Scott Elbert] and I didn't have enough pitchers to finish the game unless everything went 100 percent. I had to let him hit there."

Offensively, at least the Dodgers didn't get shut out, as they did Monday night. Hanley Ramirez homered for the offensive highlight, his seventh for the Dodgers and sixth in the last 12 games. Two of the runs scored on sacrifice flies by A.J. Ellis and Rivera, the fourth run on Adam Kennedy's double-play grounder.

But Mattingly pointed out two mistakes -- second baseman Mark Ellis backing off a popup that fell untouched for a third-inning double by Andrew Brown and Rivera being thrown out trying to go from first to second on a pitch in the dirt.

"We've got to make that play [the popup] and the baserunning with Rivera was a mistake, too," Mattingly said. "We can't afford to give up an out. That's just not good baseball."

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