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Dodgers lose and may lose Kent to DL07/18/2006 2:38 AM ET
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Jeff Kent said Monday was "not a good day," and he wasn't talking about the Dodgers' fifth consecutive loss that dropped them below .500 for the first time since May 11.
He was talking about the strained oblique muscle that just won't go away. It's getting worse, not better, and Kent isn't sure if he can keep going.
"I've always dealt with injuries, but I've never had anything like this," he said. "It's been rough. It's been different than any other injury, that's for sure. And it's been difficult to deal with."
As if the Dodgers needed more bad news after losing to the Arizona Diamondbacks, 8-3, the disabled list is becoming a more likely destination for Kent, who met after the game with manager Grady Little and trainer Stan Johnston even though he went 2-for-4 with an RBI double.
"Major League Baseball is a team game, and you play as best you can until you're sacrificing the chances of the team," Kent said. "When it comes to a point where another player can do as good or better, that's a line I try not to cross."
Kent concedes that the injury he suffered July 3 will not heal until he shuts down. He's already seen teammates Nomar Garciaparra and Brett Tomko disabled with similar oblique strains. Kent took off nine days leading through the All-Star break in hopes it would improve enough, but he sounds pretty much back to square one.
The Dodgers are currently playing one infielder short already because third baseman Cesar Izturis is in Los Angeles for at least another day because of the birth of his daughter.
Last year, the Dodgers lost four of the first five games coming out of the All-Star break and never really made a run at first place after that. Now they have lost five straight, the last two by a combined score of 19-6, dropping 3 1/2 games back for the first time since May 9 and 11 games below .500 on the road.
"We're just a much better club than the results we're getting and we need to get it turned around," manager Grady Little said. "I feel certain we will. We're at the point where we need to play a perfect game to win and we're not getting it done."
The Dodgers scored twice in the second inning off Enrique Gonzalez, against whom they scored seven runs in four innings of his last start July 4. Loser Aaron Sele (6-3) lacked his usual command and the Diamondbacks knocked him out in the sixth inning, charged with five runs. Even Gonzalez, who lasted 6 2/3 innings, got into the act with three hits.
"I was up in the zone all night, the changeup was non-existent and the curveball was rolling," said Sele. "I've got to make better pitches than that."
Reliever Joe Beimel turned it into a rout by allowing a three-run homer to Eric Byrnes after not covering first base on an infield grounder to first baseman Garciaparra.
Such mental mistakes (Little called it "inexcusable") tend to afflict slumping teams.
"Those things happen when you're not winning and it gets magnified," he said.
So do ejections, and after the game the club was still steaming over the work of third-base umpire Angel Hernandez, who made a long-distance toss of coach Mariano Duncan, apparently for complaining about Hernandez's ruling that Chad Tracy had held up on a check swing in the first inning.
Although arguing balls and strikes is grounds for ejection, Hernandez and his fellow umpires had no comment for reporters afterward. Duncan, though, had plenty of comments.
"I have no idea why he threw me out," said Duncan. "I pointed to him that he [Tracy] swung. I'm in the first-base dugout and he's all the way behind third base. He pointed to the dugout. Grady went to him and he say he threw me out. I went to ask why."
Duncan said crew chief Randy Marsh used profanity in telling him to leave the field and that's when an already agitated Duncan lost it. Restrained by Little from going after Marsh, Duncan took his Dodgers cap and flung it 20 feet toward Hernandez, who made a fine one-handed snag, then trotted over to the box-seat railing and gave the cap to a young boy.
"He act like he's a Dodger," said Duncan. "That's the property of the Dodgers. I think Bob Watson [baseball's disciplinarian] has to think about what he wants to do. If he fines me, I appeal."
Duncan said that home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt told him to get off the field, and "that's when I point to every umpire and tell them they should be out of the game."
Little said there was "nothing done or said that warranted" ejection.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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