LOS ANGELES (AP) - The Dodgers ended July with a 12-13 record, which underscores the mediocrity that has undermined their hopes of competing in the NL West since the start of the season.
Andre Ethier's batting line against Arizona left-hander Joe Saunders in Sunday's 6-3 loss to the Diamondbacks said it all, in terms of Los Angeles' inability to score runs. He singled all four times up without getting an RBI, then made the final out representing the tying run against J.J. Putz.
That left the Dodgers - 10 games out of first place when July began - 12 1/2 games off the pace with two more dreary months ahead of them while the Diamondbacks fight San Francisco for the NL West title.
``I could care less about the Giants and the Diamondbacks right now. I'm more worried about our team and playing San Diego,' center fielder Matt Kemp said. ``Everything is bad when you're not in first place and not contending.
``It's not going too good right now. Our pitchers are doing a great job of keeping us in games, for the most part, but we've just got to start scoring runs for them and get timely hitting. There's still two months left, so we've got some work to do.'
Trailing 6-1, the Dodgers made the score more respectable with an RBI single by Juan Rivera in the eighth against Ryan Cook, and another one in the ninth by Tony Gwynn Jr. against Putz. But the Arizona closer got the final two outs for his 24th save in 28 chances, as Aaron Miles flied out and Ethier did the same.
``He's not the guy you want to see up there with the game on the line,' Putz said. ``He's a guy who can beat you with power when he needs to and he can hit the ball to all fields.'
Ethier was the first left-handed hitter to get four hits in a game against Saunders since Oct. 2, 2010, when he also had four singles without an RBI in the Dodgers' 3-2 win at Los Angeles. But Saunders held the rest of their offense in check Sunday, coming within four outs of his second straight complete game.
``Joe was great. He didn't walk anybody, got some key double plays, was just in total command,' said Arizona manager Kirk Gibson, whose return to Dodger Stadium this weekend evoked memories of a happier time. ``I thought about leaving him in, but I just felt that with the lead, we wanted to get him out of there. I thought we could get out of it earlier with our bullpen. It didn't work out that inning, but he certainly did his job.'
Saunders (8-8) won his fifth straight road decision, allowing two runs and eight hits - including a solo homer by Dioner Navarro. Coming off a 6-1 victory last Tuesday at San Diego, Saunders finished July 4-1 with a 2.16 ERA in six starts and has balanced his books after going 0-5 over his first nine outings with a 5.02 ERA.
``It was a good month. It kind of makes up for the start I had,' said the former Angels pitcher, who was 0-4 with a 4.00 ERA over his previous six starts against the Dodgers. ``I tried to get back to even-par the best I could, and now we can go on from here.'
Rubby De La Rosa (4-5) matched Saunders' pitch total with 103. But the rookie right-hander lasted only four innings, giving up three runs, five hits and four walks while striking out six.
Arizona's first two runs came on consecutive homers by Ryan Roberts and Gerardo Parra in the second. De La Rosa had allowed only four home runs over his nine previous big league starts.
``Rubby seemed out of rhythm today,' manager Don Mattingly said. ``I'll talk to him and make sure everything is OK.'
Parra homered again in the eighth, a two-run shot off Hong-Chih Kuo that gave him his first career multihomer game. In was only the second home run allowed by Kuo in 22 appearances this season. But the left-hander, who missed 32 games because of an anxiety disorder before returning to the bullpen on June 19, has yielded eight runs in two innings over his last four appearances.
The surging Diamondbacks have won 10 of 15 to climb within two games of the Giants, who will host them in a three-game series that starts Monday night in San Francisco.
Notes: SS Dee Gordon rejoined the Dodgers from Triple-A Albuquerque after two-time All-Star shortstop Rafael Furcal was traded to St. Louis for Double-A outfielder Alex Castellanos. ... Los Angeles also acquired C Tim Federowics, RHP Stephen Fife and RHP Juan Rodriguez from Boston for OF Trayvon Robinson. All the players involved were in the minors.
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