But everything's relative, and the Dodgers' big league pitching staff is in crisis mode. Josh Beckett, trying to pitch with a hip impingement that needs season-ending surgery, made his third consecutive disappointing start in Sunday's loss. Dan Haren's losing streak reached five starts Friday.
Manager Don Mattingly said that, like Haren on Wednesday, Beckett is still scheduled to make his next start Friday.
"Yeah, at this point, unless he comes in tomorrow and can't walk or can't do something," Mattingly said.
The bullpen that made Saturday night's walk-off win possible showed the strain of pitching 14 2/3 innings in the three-game series by forgetting how to throw strikes Sunday, as J.P. Howell, Brandon League and Chris Perez issued six walks in three innings -- League walking the bases loaded with no outs in what became a three-run eighth inning. Paco Rodriguez, just recalled to replace the injured Paul Maholm, threw two scoreless innings.
"It's up for discussion with Ned and his guys," Mattingly said of possible reinforcements. "We're always trying to get better. But [Adrian Gonzalez] was struggling for a while and we didn't do anything with him. I feel Josh is going to get better and come out of this thing. You can't make changes all the time."
Sending Beckett or Haren to the bullpen, Mattingly said, also doesn't make sense to him.
"It sounds great, but you got to have a starter," he said. "You still can't just, all of a sudden, have a bullpen day. It's not Spring Training. We've tried to use the off-days to give Danny a break. We tried to use the All-Star break and the DL to give Josh a break. You do whatever you can, but you don't just have all these guys just to be able to use anybody you want."
In three starts since that Band-Aid, 15-day stay on the disabled list, Beckett hasn't made it out of the fifth inning. He no longer throws customary bullpen sessions between starts because, as he implied, his high-mileage, 34-year-old body can't take it.
"I'm old. That's just where I'm at," he said. "I can't force myself to go two days after I pitch. It's like robbing Peter to pay Paul."
Instead, Beckett makes adjustments for mechanical flaws by throwing on flat ground, but it's not working, he's not able to repeat his delivery in-game. So at one point Sunday he reeled off four consecutive strikeouts, but soon thereafter walked three of four hitters before serving up a two-run homer to Chris Coghlan after a double by Jackson.
"I felt better physically today than the last two starts, but the results were the same and that's what we're judged on and what we judge ourselves on," he said. "I didn't throw enough strikes and the strikes I did throw were not quality enough. I can't keep killing the bullpen every time I pitch."
Beckett has allowed 11 runs in 12 innings during the three starts since he came off the disabled list, after compiling a glossy 2.26 ERA in his first 17 starts. He's walked seven in his last 8 1/3 innings.
Until the hip problem worsened in a July 6 win at Colorado, Beckett was on a remarkable comeback after missing almost all of last season with thoracic outlet surgery to remove a rib.
Speaking of comebacks, Matt Kemp continued his hot hitting with another home run, his fifth in the last six games, but the Dodgers also hit into three double plays.
The fact that the Dodgers lost to a former farmhand traded to Tampa Bay with Chuck Tiffany in 2006 for Danys Baez and Lance Carter didn't make this one any easier to take. It was Jackson's first win in six weeks.
"It's a high-style environment playing at Dodger Stadium," said Jackson, who beat Randy Johnson on his 20th birthday in his Dodgers debut. "It's pretty loud and the fans are really into the game. It's good for us to come out and take victories like this and win series like this."
After Kemp's homer in the sixth cut the lead to one, the Dodgers thought they had the game tied in the seventh. Drew Butera, starting for the second game because of A.J. Ellis' bruised knee, hit his second double of the game with one out. Carl Crawford lashed a liner headed for the right-field corner, but first baseman Anthony Rizzo leaped to snag the shot and doubled Butera off second base.
"Carl's ball, the line drive was the one that ended up killing us," said Mattingly. "Instead of tied with Carl on second or third with one out, they got out of the inning with the lead. Changed the game right there."