LOS ANGELES (AP) - With most of the attention on the Dodgers' side of the field directed toward a reported failure to communicate between All-Star right fielder Andre Ethier, manager Don Mattingly and the medical staff, the team's five-game winning streak ended with their 18th one-run loss of the season.
Kevin Kouzmanoff drove in his first four runs since joining the Colorado Rockies this week, and manager Jim Tracy needed five relievers to hold off his former club and preserve a 7-6 victory Sunday.
Ethier wasn't in the lineup because of a sore right knee - although he was on-deck to pinch-hit for Rod Barajas when Aaron Miles made the last out.
Ethier's absence was a break for the Rockies, whose five-run first inning against rookie Nathan Eovaldi (1-2) was highlighted by a bloop three-run double off Kouzmanoff's bat that Trent Oeltjen wasn't able to catch in rightfield.
Ethier went public with his knee problem in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, which caused a clamor throughout the clubhouse and resulted in a 15-minute closed-door meeting with Mattingly and general manager Ned Colletti.
``I was a little taken back by it,' Mattingly said. ``I talked to 'Dre about it to see if he felt that the way it came out was accurate. To me, the way I read it, was that 'Dre's been telling us he can't play and we just said: `Well, you're playing, anyway.' And that's definitely not the case. I would never do that. That's not part of my DNA.
Ethier, who had career highs with 31 homers and 106 RBIs in 2009, is hitting .286 with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs in 127 games - including a 30-game hitting streak early in the season. He declined to discuss the matter with reporters before the game and saw team doctor Neal ElAttrache to determine the extent of the injury. He could be facing possible surgery during the offseason.
``Andre can hit, man. He's a great hitter and he's proven that over the past five years that we've been here,' Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp said. ``I mean, his power numbers are a little down, but I can't explain why. Maybe it is because he's hurt, but I really don't know. I know his knee's hurting him and his toe is hurting him, too, so that can affect somebody's swing. But if you're going to play, you've just got to tough it out and get through it.'
Eovaldi (1-2) gave up five runs and six hits over four innings in his fifth big league start. The 21-year-old right-hander threw 41 of his 89 pitches in the first, when the Rockies scored all of their runs against him with two out.
The Dodgers began chipping away in the bottom half with a leadoff triple by Tony Gwynn Jr. and a single by rookie Justin Sellers. James Loney, batting cleanup for the first time this season, doubled in a run in the third.
Rockies right fielder Carlos Gonzalez, whose three hits extended his hitting streak to 15 games, prevented two more Dodgers runs from scoring in the fourth with a spectacular diving catch of Sellers' sinking drive just inside the with two out and runners at the corners.
``He's a guy who tries to hit the other way,' Gonzalez said. ``I remember the first time we played against him at home, and he hit like five or six balls to right field. So I was prepared for that one.'
Gonzalez led off the fifth with a double against Blake Hawksworth and scored on a two-base hit by Seth Smith, who came home on Kouzmanoff's single to make it 7-2. The four RBIs tied a career high for the six-year veteran, who was acquired by the Rockies last Tuesday in a trade with Oakland.
Jhoulys Chacin (11-10) gave up four runs, six hits and five walks in five-plus innings. The right-hander departed with a 7-2 lead.
``You have to be patient against those guys, work the count and try to get good pitches to hit. We did a pretty good job today, but we just came up short,' Kemp said.
Eugenio Velez, still hitless in 28 official at_bats with the Dodgers, drove in his first run with his new team on a fielder's choice grounder after Matt Reynolds relieved Chacin. Gwynn followed with a sacrifice fly, but Sellers struck out against Matt Belisle.
Los Angeles closed to 7-6 in the seventh against Matt Lindstrom with Miles' RBI double and a run-scoring single by Oeltjen. But Rex Brothers pitched a perfect eighth inning and Rafael Betancourt bounced back from Saturday's blown save, getting three outs to record his fourth in eight chances.
Betancourt had to face Loney for the second day in a row, after giving up a tying home run to him with two out in the ninth before the Dodgers won on Kemp's walkoff homer in the 11th. This time, Loney struck out.
The teams split the 18-game season series.
Notes: Even if the Dodgers maintain their average attendance of 36,911 through the final 13 home games, they would fail to reach the 3 million mark at Chavez Ravine for the first time in a non-strike season since 1992. That year, they finished last in a six-team NL West with a 63-99 record - which remains the franchise's losingest season since 1908 (53-101). ... Ethier has yet to commit an error, after making only one in 2010. The only Dodger ever to win a Gold Glove as their regular right fielder was Raul Mondesi, who committed six errors when he won it in 1995 and four when he repeated in 1997. ... The five runs against Eovaldi equaled the total he gave up in 22 innings over his first four starts.
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