MIAMI -- It seemed the Dodgers caught a break by missing Marlins ace Josh Johnson this series, but as it played out they now must beat Florida's no-hit specialist Anibal Sanchez Wednesday just to avoid being swept.
After Monday night's ninth-inning collapse that put closer Jonathan Broxton in the spotlight, Clayton Kershaw let two leads get away Tuesday night in a 4-2 loss that wasted James Loney's four hits, half the team total.
Andre Ethier set an MLB April record by extending his hitting streak to 23 games, but his first-inning RBI double (tied for the league lead with nine) accounted for half the Dodgers' offense. The other run was scored by Jerry Sands, who doubled and came in on Rod Barajas' sacrifice fly. The Dodgers are 1-12 when they allow at least four runs, and are 0-12 when they trail after six innings.
Now injuries -- which already have taken a toll on the bullpen through the absences of Vicente Padilla and Hong-Chih Kuo -- have thinned out the starting lineup. Juan Uribe missed his fourth start with a strained groin and probably won't start Wednesday, but manager Don Mattingly was forced to use him with two outs in the ninth representing the tying run. Uribe grounded into a forceout, but now if he needs to go on the disabled list, he can't be backdated. Mattingly said he doubted Uribe could play Wednesday.
The Dodgers are also waiting for a culture to determine what's going on in Casey Blake's swollen left elbow, but Mattingly said he won't be playing Wednesday either.
"Right now, we've basically got three guys starting that when we started were going to be utility guys," Mattingly said of Jamey Carroll, Aaron Miles and Ivan De Jesus Jr., who are replacing Rafael Furcal, Uribe and Blake.
"We're trying to scratch to get runs here and there. Tonight, they shut down Matt [Kemp, 0-for-4]. The two guys in the middle [Kemp and Ethier] have been the mainstays of the lineup. No way they can keep up the pace they've got going. We just have to find a way without them sometimes.
"They've been huge for us. Really, they've kept us afloat, along with quality pitching that's kept us in games. If those guys had been scuffling, we'd be in serious trouble here."
As Mattingly pointed out, Kershaw was doing well until the sixth inning, when he allowed three hits and a walk, the big hit a two-run single off the end of the bat of Mike Stanton.
"It was where I wanted to throw it," said Kershaw, charged with four runs in 5 1/3 innings. "A couple pitches I'd like to have back, but if I had it to do over again, I'd try a different pitch and a different location. I gave that four times in a row. You can always second-guess yourself. He could have hit it to second base and gotten a double play. Just one of those things."
Kershaw allowed a home run to Gaby Sanchez leading off the second inning, the fifth dinger he's allowed in six starts this year. The second run actually scored on an error by third baseman Aaron Miles when Hanley Ramirez tried to go from first to third on a hit-and-run slow bouncer by Sanchez. Loney returned the throw to Miles, who appeared to try such a quick catch-and-tag that he missed the ball, allowing Ramirez to score.
"When were down 2-1, with a base hit, he scored a run," Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez said of Ramirez's aggressive baserunning. "When he gets it going, this is a different team."
Mattingly suspects the Dodgers' inconsistent offense weighs on the pitchers.
"We have to take some of the pressure off the starting pitchers," Mattingly said. "Clayton thinks he has to throw zeroes all night long."
Kershaw doesn't think that mindset is a negative.
"That's what I always try to do," he said. "I hope that doesn't mean I nibble around the plate and walk guys and stuff. That's not what I try to do at all. The last inning I was missing up, but not because I was nibbling. [Shutting out opponents] is my mentality. I don't think that's a detriment. It's what I'm supposed to do."
Loney, meanwhile, raised his average from .170 to .204 with the four hits, and he also stole a base.
"It's just one game, but I'm feeling pretty good lately," said Loney, who is trying to recapture the batting stance and approach of previous more successful seasons. "I've had [an urgency] since last year. I want it quicker than it has been. It is what it is."
Said Mattingly: "To see him kind of break out a little bit ... and hopefully it sets him on his way."
Ken Gurnick This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.