GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Except for having to send Adrian Gonzalez home with an upset stomach after only two at-bats, manager Don Mattingly thought the Dodgers came away from a 6-2 loss to the Reds Tuesday night better than the score indicated.
Starter Josh Beckett was solid in 4 1/3 innings with five strikeouts. Mattingly also felt Ted Lilly deserved a better fate for his 2 2/3 innings of relief, which were marred by four unearned runs after what was ruled a throwing error by Gonzalez's replacement at first base, Scott Van Slyke.
Matt Kemp struck out three times while going 0-for-4, leaving him 2-for-17 with eight strikeouts in his return from shoulder surgery. But Mattingly insisted he isn't worried, recalling that Kemp had a rough spring last year, then hit .412 in April.
"He just needs at-bats. Matt's fine," said Mattingly. "He needs to get his balance and see more pitches."
Lilly -- whose return from shoulder surgery has been interrupted by a lingering cold and a storm that limited his last start to two-thirds of an inning -- said he had trouble throwing his breaking ball for strikes. But he threw more than 50 pitches in relief and believes that will help him catch up.
"I'm at a point where I should be ready to start the season," Lilly said. "Obviously, there's still things I'd like to work on and fine tune. But I'm healthy."
Mattingly said he thought the ball was coming out of Lilly's hand well and he should have escaped the four-run eighth inning with less damage.
Beckett, who allowed a home run to Shin-Soo Choo, has been charged with only that run on four hits in 9 1/3 innings this spring.
"He's been good. He seems even sharper now," Mattingly said of Beckett. "I don't know if it's the time off or what it is, but he looks good."
Paco Rodriguez retired the two batters he faced after relieving Beckett during the fifth inning with a runner on second base.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.