HOUSTON (AP) - The Dodgers' inability to score runs hurt them again.
For the fifth time in the last 12 games, Los Angeles scored no more than a run, and the Astros took advantage with an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth by J.R. Towles to bet the Dodgers 2-1 Wednesday.
The only run Ted Lilly allowed was a first-pitch homer to Michael Bourn leading off the first. It turned out to be fairly decisive.
``I consider it a mistake and good hitting,' Lilly said. ``He got a good pitch to hit and he didn't miss it. More than anything, it was a thing where I guessed wrong. I thought he would take to begin the game.
``That one mistake cost us the game you could say. It was a mental error more than anything. You take that out of the equation, and I make a quality pitch to start off the game, and we're up 1-0.'
Lilly allowed six hits with two strikeouts in six innings.
Matt Kemp tied it in the sixth with a solo home run off Houston starter Aneury Rodriguez to tie for the league lead with 12 home runs, but that was the only offense the Dodgers could muster against the Astros.
``We lost a game,' Kemp said. ``I don't think me being tied for home runs is a big deal. I'm trying to win baseball games. I'm not worried about how many home runs I hit.'
L.A. didn't get its first hit off Rodriguez until Kemp's single in the fourth.
``He was good,' Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Rodriguez, who gave up one run on four hits with five strikeouts in six innings. ``I know on the radar gun, he is not totally lighting it up. He seemed to have that little extra jump because we were swinging through some fastballs. The guys were saying he had that extra little hop on it.'
The Dodgers threatened in the fifth with singles by Dioner Navarro and Aaron Miles before Lilly bunted them over to second and third with two outs, but Rafael Furcal grounded to short to end the inning.
``We have to score more runs,' Kemp said. ``We are not getting the job done offensively. Our pitchers are keeping us in ballgames. Lilly pitched a good game. He gave up one run in the first inning, and that was it. We only scored one run. We have to generate more runs than one run a game.'
In the seventh, Navarro singled, and with two outs, the Wilton Lopez intentionally walked Andre Ethier to put runners on first and second. Again, Furcal grounded out to end the threat.
``Rust is the main thing,' Mattingly said of Furcal. ``He missed a quite a bit of time. Our plan was to give him 25-30 at bats in Albuquerque and have him ready when he gets here. We needed a guy, so we rushed him.'
Mattingly said the lack of key hits has been the story for the team.
``Teddy pitched good,' he said. ``We gave ourselves a chance. We just weren't able to get that hit when we needed it. We had our chances through this lineup to get a hit. Opportunities are there, but we just haven't seen them get that hit.'
Other than the home run in the first, Mattingly said Lilly, who threw just 79 pitches, was really good.
``His pitch count was low,' Mattingly said. ``He was sharp. He seemed to be doing the things we wanted him to do. In this league, you have to score a run, and that's where we are at.'
Lilly said he was able to get in front of the hitters, but he wasn't able to use his curveball much, so he had to rely on his slider and changeup.
Matt Guerrier (2-3) picked up the loss giving up a one-out double to Brett Wallace before Towles singled home pitch runner Brian Bogusevic.
Lilly said he feels like the offense is going to put up runs. Kemp agrees.
``I don't know what everybody else is feeling,' Kemp said. ``I know every time I'm up there I'm trying to drive in runs. Maybe a little too hard. We might be pressing a little bit too much. We just need to let the game come to us. We have to stay positive and grind this thing out because there is light at the end of the tunnel.'
Mark Melancon (4-1) threw a hitless ninth for the win.
Notes: Dodgers RF Andre Ethier pinch-hit in the seventh. He also pinch-hit Tuesday night after running into the fence on Sunday. ... The Astros won consecutive series for the first time this season. They took two of three from Toronto before beating Los Angeles two out of three.
The Associated Press News Service
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