LOS ANGELES (AP) - Veteran shortstop Clint Barmes is experiencing the same thing with the Houston Astros that he did in his early years with the Colorado Rockies - a nucleus of hungry young players going through the growing pains it takes to become productive major leaguers.
The Astros committed three errors that led to three unearned runs against Wandy Rodriguez on Saturday night in a 6-1 loss to Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers, clinching Houston's third straight losing season. They have lost five in a row, 17 of 22, and own a major league-worst 38-81 record.
``It's been diffifult. But one thing you can say about this group is that we show up every day trying to win, and we play hard,' Barmes said. ``You try to learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat them. And there's been a lot to learn from, obviously. I definitely think the young talent in here is only going to get better. Our pitching staff gives us a chance every night, and that's about all you can ask for at this point.'
The Dodgers converted first baseman Carlos Lee's error into a pair of unearned runs in the first against Wandy Rodriguez (8-9). Leadoff man Jamey Carroll reached when Lee fielded his grounder toward the hole and flipped the ball behind Rodriguez as he raced to cover the bag. Carroll was erased on a fielder's choice grounder by Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp drove an 0-1 pitch into the pavilion seats in left-center for his 27th home run.
Los Angeles increased its margin to 4-0 with a pair of runs in the fifth. Kershaw (14-5) laid down a bunt to the left of the plate with runners at the corners and none out, and Tony Gwynn Jr. avoided the tag by Carlos Corporan with a headfirst slide after the rookie catcher came out from behind the plate to field the ball up the third-base line. The play was scored as a fielder's choice.
``It was a risky play,' said Corporan, one of 12 rookies on the 25-man roster. ``I thought I had a chance, but Gwynn had a great jump. He's a great baserunner and he did what you have to do on a play like that. There was nothing I could do about that.'
Carroll then bunted to rookie third baseman Jimmy Paredes, whose high throw to first pulled Lee off the bag. The rookie's first error loaded the bases for Casey Blake, who drove in Justin Sellers with a line-drive sacrifice fly. Sellers singled during the rally for his first big league hit.
Gwynn scored the Dodgers' fifth run when he stole third and continued home on Corporan's throwing error in the sixth. It was the 91st error by the Astros, whose average age has dropped from 32.3 years to 27.3 since opening day.
``It's tough. We've got a young team and we're trying to develop something here,' Corporan said. ``We've got a bunch of young guys who want to win and are hungry to show what they have to do to stay here. We give 100 percent every time we go on the field, and that's all you can do. We're getting experience every day and getting to know each other. The more games you play, the more comfortable you feel.'
Rodriguez was charged with five runs overall and six hits in six innings. The left-hander is 2-6 with a 4.50 ERA over his last eight starts, after going 3-1 with a 1.80 ERA in June - including a 7-0 win at Dodger Stadium in which he pitched six innings.
Kershaw won for the sixth time in his last seven starts, allowing a run and six hits over eight innings with eight strikeouts. The only run off him came on an eighth-inning double by rookie J.D. Martinez, who has 15 RBIs in his first 13 big league games.
Kemp, who began the day third in the NL in RBIs, fourth in home runs and fifth in batting average, is a homer away from matching his career-best total from last season. He also is 13 RBIs shy of his career-high total of 101 in 2009.
Notes: Rodriguez has allowed five home runs against the Dodgers in 62 1-3 career innings, and has given up fewer than three earned runs in eight of his 10 starts against them. ... Kershaw, who was 13-10 last season, is closing in on his second straight 200-strikeout season with an NL-leading 193. The last Dodger to win a league strikeout title in a regulation 162-game season was Sandy Koufax in 1966 (317). Fernando Valenzuela (1981) and Hideo Nomo (1995) did it in strike-shortened seasons. ... Kershaw is 9-1 with a 1.88 ERA in 13 starts at Dodger Stadium this season. The only loss was on April 16 against St. Louis.
The Associated Press News Service
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