LOS ANGELES (AP) - A disturbing pattern is emerging for the offensively challenged Los Angeles Dodgers, who are having a tough time taking advantage of scoring opportunities.
Tuesday night's 6-0 loss to the New York Mets marked the third straight game in which a Dodgers starting pitcher took a shutout into the fifth inning and came away with a loss. Ted Lilly matched zeros with Mike Pelfrey until Carlos Beltran hit a two-run homer in the fifth, helping send the last-place Dodgers to their fourth straight loss and 16th in 24 games.
In the series opener Monday, rookie Rubby De La Rosa no-hit the Mets through five before giving up three run-scoring doubles in the sixth and taking a 5-2 loss. On Sunday in Anaheim, Chad Billingsley had a one-hitter and a 1-0 lead after six before the Angels scored three in the seventh against him and won 3-1.
``If we're not able to plate a couple, we're going to have trouble winning,' beleaguered manager Don Mattingly said after watching his team strand seven runners in scoring position against Pelfrey through the first six innings and leave the bases loaded twice.
``That's kind of been our story. We've been able to get guys out there, but we're having trouble getting that hit - or a number of hits - to put runs on the board.'
Los Angeles stranded a runner at third base in the second, then left two more in scoring position in the third. The Dodgers came up empty again in the fifth after Matt Kemp led off with a single and let his aggressiveness get the best of him.
One out later, Juan Uribe doubled toward the right-field line and Kemp coasted into third. But when Beltran's relay went to second base instead of home, third base coach Tim Wallach sent Kemp toward the plate and he was thrown out by shortstop Ruben Tejada - starting his third straight game because of Jose Reyes' sore left hamstring.
``It was a high throw to second and I was trying to make something happen. I almost did,' Wallach said. ``If the shortstop doesn't catch it and pick him up right away, he scores easily. We've been trying to be aggressive as much as possible, and I think that was a good spot for it. Matt slowed a little bit, but he did that more to take a peek behind him. So we were on the same page.'
Lilly came up with the bases loaded later that inning and grounded out. The Dodgers loaded the bases again in the fifth after Pelfrey retired the first two batters, but Uribe lined out to center field, lowering the team's average in bases-loaded situations to .179 (14 for 78).
``In those situations, they hit balls right at guys and allowed me to work out of it. Uribe hit that ball 120 mph right to the center fielder,' Pelfrey said. ``Early in the game I had good command, and then I kind of lost it. But in the last inning I was able to find it again.'
Mets reliever Pedro Beato added to the Dodgers' collective frustration in the seventh, slipping a called third strike past Kemp after a two-out triple by Aaron Miles.
Lilly (5-9) gave up three runs and six hits in six innings after getting an extra day's rest because of a tender elbow. The 35-year-old left-hander is 0-4 with an 8.71 ERA over his last four starts and has allowed a team-high 18 home runs. The loss put the Dodgers 13 games under .500 (37-50) for the first time since finishing the 2005 season 71-91.
Beltran's 13th homer came with two outs in the fifth. The Mets have scored 162 runs with two outs, second-most in the majors behind Boston's 166.
``I didn't know that, but that's pretty impressive,' New York manager Terry Collins said. ``The one thing we said during our slide was that we didn't get any two-out hits that drove in runs. So this means we're starting to do a better job of situational hitting with two outs. I do believe that when we play good, our at_bats are good. We usually are patient enough to wait for something that we can handle.'
Jason Bay made it 3-0 with a leadoff homer in the sixth and broke the game open in the eighth with his sixth of the season, a three-run shot off Blake Hawksworth. It was his first multihomer game since June 28, 2010, at Florida, when he went deep twice against Ricky Nolasco.
Beltran turned in the defensive gem of the game, robbing Rafael Furcal of extra bases with a diving, backhanded catch in the alley.
Pelfrey (5-7) scattered five hits. The right-hander, who came in having beaten every NL team except the Dodgers, won on the road for the first time since May 10 at Colorado, his only other victory away from home this season in nine decisions.
NOTES: Pelfrey hit Trent Oeltjen in the fourth and Miles in the fifth - both with two-strike pitches - and Miles left the game with a bruised right elbow. ... Dodgers RHP Jon Garland, sidelined since June 2 because of shoulder problems, is scheduled to undergo season-ending exploratory surgery on Monday. The 12-year veteran is 1-5 with a 4.33 ERA in nine starts in his second stint with the club. This ends his streak of nine straight seasons with double-digit win totals. ... Dodgers RF Andre Ethier didn't play because of a high temperature. ... Kemp was chosen to participate in the All-Star Home Run Derby. He has homered only twice in his last 20 games and 67 at_bats.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved