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LAD@CHC: Ethier extends streak, puts Dodgers up late

CHICAGO -- A bullpen still finding its way led to a game that got away from the Dodgers on Saturday.

With the wind blowing out, the Dodgers' offense erased a four-run deficit, took a three-run lead, then watched the Cubs put a five-spot on their bullpen for a wild 10-8 loss that exposed a weakness -- and that weakness isn't about scoring runs.

Casey Blake, Matt Kemp and Rod Barajas homered, and Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 20 games with a two-run double, but reliever Matt Guerrier saw his scoreless streak of 10 2/3 innings trampled with five runs in the decisive eighth inning, the final two charged to him but scoring when teammate Blake Hawksworth's first pitch was smoked for a double by Jeff Baker.

"I probably shouldn't have sent Guerrier back out [for a second inning]," said Mattingly. "I should have sent Hawksworth out. [Guerrier] only made seven pitches [in a scoreless seventh inning], but he threw 25 [Thursday]."

When a starting pitcher goes only 4 1/3 innings, as Ted Lilly did against his former team, the Dodgers get into a bullpen that doesn't have Hong-Chih Kuo (for at least another week), doesn't have Ronald Belisario (availability unknown), has a shaky closer in Jonathan Broxton (now limited to one inning at a time) and just got back Vicente Padilla, who threw a perfect inning in his 2011 debut.

But Mattingly said he couldn't send Padilla out for a second inning in his first game back. Padilla said pitching to one batter in the second inning of his last rehab game Tuesday left his surgically repaired forearm "a little sore" the next day, so he won't know until Sunday if he can be more than a one-inning pitcher. The Dodgers have a lot of those.

With Lilly's early exit in a featured matchup against his good buddy Ryan Dempster, Mattingly used Mike MacDougal to bail out Lilly in the fifth inning, Padilla in the sixth and tried to get Guerrier through the seventh and eighth.

Lilly snapped the Dodgers' streak of six consecutive quality starts, allowing his former team five runs on 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings. Dempster went 5 2/3 innings, charged with seven runs on nine hits.

"At the end of the day, it's not about me, it's about us as a team, and those guys in there did an incredible job scoring some runs," said Dempster. "Guerrier hadn't given up a run all year and to score five in the eighth -- and big hits, clutch hits -- it was a big win for us."

The Cubs were led by the top of their batting order, as Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney combined for seven hits, six RBIs and four runs.

Lilly stepped up and took the blame.

"It's especially disappointing given the fact our offense battled back from a deficit, took the lead and I wasn't able today to get it done, so we could go up 2-0 in the series," said Lilly. "I wasn't making quality pitches. I put us in a tough spot going to the bullpen early. I didn't want to, and Donnie didn't want to.

"I don't know [that] the conditions had anything to do with it. I don't know I can really find any excuses. It's just a matter of making the pitches when I had to. I felt my performance wasn't good enough."

Neither was the Dodgers' defense. Rookie Jerry Sands lost one ball in the sun for a double that led to a run and broke late on a two-out blooper that fell for a hit in the winning rally. Sands also played a perfect carom off the brick wall and threw out Castro trying for a double.

However, also in the eighth inning, the fill-in double-play combination of Jamey Carroll (with Rafael Furcal disabled) and Aaron Miles (with Juan Uribe nursing a thigh muscle injury) didn't turn a makeable double play that would have cut off the inning with the game still tied.

Lilly also suffered the indignity of picking back-to-back runners off base during Chicago's three-run fifth inning and getting neither out. Castro outran James Loney's throw to second for a stolen base and Barney was awarded second base when Loney was called for obstruction.

Meanwhile, Guerrier was signed to a three-year, $12 million contract to be the workhorse, management realizing that Belisario's availability is unknown due to ongoing visa issues. But in Minnesota, Guerrier was primarily a one-inning pitcher. With the Dodgers, he's come out for a second inning in five of 10 appearances.

Guerrier said he "felt great" and that he made "a lot of mistakes." But when asked if he's adjusted to this heavier workload, he struggled for an answer.

"I don't even know how to answer that," he said. "Sure, they need me to go back out there, I'm ready. It's one of those things you go through in the 'pen. Sometimes you get a little more work, sometimes there isn't much work. It's the ups and downs of a long season." Comments