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LAD@HOU: Dodgers fall on a walk-off hit in the ninth

HOUSTON -- It took only one pitch from Ted Lilly for the Astros to score, while it took 64 pitches from Aneury Rodriguez just for the Dodgers to get their initial hit.

Unfortunately for the Dodgers, they couldn't manage much offense aside from Matt Kemp's three hits and home run, and lost in walk-off fashion, 2-1, on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park for the second time in the three-game series.

"We couldn't get hits when we needed it," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.

But the Astros did. Houston won on catcher J.R. Towles' walk-off single off Matt Guerrier (2-3) in the last of the ninth that made a winner out of Mark Melancon (4-1). Towles' second-inning double off Lilly snapped a 32-at-bat hitless streak.

"Any time you do something like that, it's a great day," said Towles, who had three of Houston's nine hits. "When you're struggling here of late and to do that, it makes it even better."

Towles singled in pinch-runner Brian Bogusevic from second with two outs. Bogusevic replaced Brett Wallace, who doubled deep to center with one out off Guerrier.

Starters Lilly and Rodriguez were superb, each allowing only one run in six innings. One pitch cost Lilly, who gave up Michael Bourn's first home run of the season, which landed in the first row of seats just to the right of the Astros' bullpen in right-center.

"I consider it a mistake," Lilly said. "He got a good pitch to hit and he didn't miss it.

"I thought he would take the first pitch of the game, and he didn't. You can say that cost us the game."

That, and missed scoring chances, proved costly as Los Angeles fell to 22-29. The Dodgers were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left runners on base in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings.

"We have to score more runs," said Kemp, who got the Dodgers' first hit in the fourth inning off Rodriguez. "We're not generating enough offense."

Kemp had half of Los Angeles' six hits, including his 12th home run of the season, which gave him his second in the series and a share of the National League lead with Jay Bruce of Cincinnati and Ryan Braun of Milwaukee.

"We lost the game," Kemp said. "Home runs are not a big deal. I'm not worried about how many home runs I hit."

For the third straight game, Andre Ethier was out of the starting lineup. The right fielder has been bothered by an injured left toe, lower back and right elbow since hitting a wall on Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago.

Ethier pinch-hit for Lilly in the seventh inning and was intentionally walked by Wilton Lopez. He is expected to be back in the starting lineup on Friday when the Dodgers open a three-game home series with Florida following an off-day.

Ethier wouldn't say whether he should have been in Los Angeles' starting lineup.

"If I'm not in, I'm not in. So be it," said Ethier, who had a 30-game hitting streak earlier this season but has only one hit in his past 31 at-bats.

By pinch-hitting Ethier, it took Lilly out of the game after he threw only 79 pitches, 51 for strikes. Lilly allowed only six hits with two strikeouts and one walk -- an intentional one, at that.

"If we're up 1-0, maybe it's a little easier decision on the manager," said Lilly, who entered Wednesday's game with a 2.36 ERA in 13 career starts against the Astros, his lowest mark against any opponent.

Lilly is a proven veteran, but Rodriguez was making only his fifth Major League start. Rodriguez left after a career-high six innings, allowing one run and four hits with five strikeouts and one walk.

"He doesn't throw that hard, but he has a little extra jump," Mattingly said. "We were swinging through his fastballs early." Comments