Dodgers scramble late, but fall further off pace

Dodgers scramble late, but fall further off pace

Dodgers scramble late, but fall further off pace
SAN DIEGO -- In town or out of town, there was no scoreboard worth watching for the Dodgers on Tuesday night.

They didn't take care of their own business in a 2-1 loss to the Padres, the Dodgers conceding afterward they beat themselves on the mound, at the plate and on the bases.

And with St. Louis winning again, the Dodgers are 4 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the last National League Wild Card spot with only eight games to play.

"It's a lousy loss," manager Don Mattingly said. "We had a chance to get back in it at the end, to tie it and extend the game. I know that's not the way to play it. But we didn't do enough to win the game."

It was Padres starter Edinson Volquez's turn to throw seven zeros at the Dodgers' offense, which ran out of a pair of scoring opportunities. That left no margin for error for Dodgers starter Josh Beckett, whose otherwise solid 5 2/3 innings were undermined by issuing a pair of leadoff walks that turned into San Diego's only runs.

"I beat myself. That's kind of how you feel when you walk the leadoff guy in back-to-back innings and both score. You know you're not supposed to do that," said Beckett, 1-3 despite a 3.16 ERA since joining the Dodgers in last month's blockbuster trade with Boston.

"I'm not saying the Padres didn't have to show up tonight. But you know as a Major League player about leadoff walks. For pitchers, it's like the golden rule."

The Dodgers finally scored in the ninth off closer Huston Street, the remarkable Luis Cruz (.350 over his last 10 games) leading off with his third hit of the game, A.J. Ellis doubling him home.

But in a concession to his struggling offense, Mattingly played for the tie on the road, having pinch-hitter Nick Punto bunt pinch-runner Dee Gordon to third. Mark Ellis walked on four pitches, but Andre Ethier struck out and Matt Kemp, angered by a first-pitch called strike, ended the game with a routine fly to right.

"Every loss is tough," Kemp said. "This was the kind of game we had every chance to win it. Another pitcher pitched a great game and we didn't score runs the way we should have. We see this every time."

To that point, the Dodgers had two legitimate chances to score and ran out of both.

Shane Victorino, who missed the weekend series in Cincinnati with a sprained left wrist, returned to the lineup and appeared to aggravate the injury while stealing a career-high 38th base after a second-inning single. Victorino was then thrown out at the plate by left fielder Chris Denorfia trying to score on Cruz's sharp single.

Beckett created a jam in the fourth with a walk of the first batter, Logan Forsythe, who was running on a 3-2 pitch that Chase Headley singled to right, Forsythe continuing to third. Beckett came off the mound to field Yasmani Grandal's tapper, but his only play was to first as Forsythe scored.

In the top of the fifth, Cruz's second hit was followed by a double-play ball from A.J. Ellis, but on the pivot Forsythe overthrew first and Ellis was awarded second base, where he was stranded.

The dreaded leadoff walk was Beckett's undoing again in the fifth, this one to Will Venable. Beckett struck out Cameron Maybin and Volquez, but Venable stole second with Everth Cabrera batting. On a 2-1 pitch, Cabrera bunted back to Beckett, who threw the ball away as Venable scored.

Kemp then started what could have been a productive sixth inning, only to run out of it. He was hit on the left elbow by a pitch with one out and was singled to second by Adrian Gonzalez, who was booed in his return to San Diego.

Hanley Ramirez's tapper to third was fielded by Headley, who faked a throw to first, then whirled and threw to shortstop Cabrera, who was alertly covering third. Kemp had rounded the bag too far and was caught in a rundown.

"Just bad baserunning, man," Kemp said. "That's all I can really say about that. Bad baserunning."

"Matt was too aggressive coming around third," Mattingly said. "It's one of those plays you should see it. I'm thinking it's a hit and the only play for him [Headley] is to fake it. Matt was too aggressive. He's got to be right on the bag there."

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