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Kuroda pitches 6 1/3 solid innings

LOS ANGELES -- The Philadelphia Phillies started Monday's game with perennial Cy Young favorite Roy Halladay, and ended it with the best arms from one of the top bullpens in the league -- and the much-maligned Dodgers offense still pounded out 13 hits.

The way things have gone for the Dodgers this season, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that those 13 hits -- all singles -- weren't enough to beat Philadelphia, the hottest team in baseball.

A chaotic bottom of the eighth inning -- one that featured runner's interference, a crucial wild pitch and a barrage of hits -- ended with the tying run on third base and the go-ahead run on second, as the Dodgers fell to the Phillies, 5-3.

The biggest reason for the offense's inefficiency was its lack of power. The Phillies notched 11 hits, cashing in on five for extra bases, each of which either knocked in or led to a run.

"There's more to winning a baseball game than just getting hits," left fielder Tony Gwynn said. "There's so much more to it."

It was Gwynn who ended the eighth inning with an audacious bunt attempt up the first-base line. Trailing by one with runners on second and third, Gwynn noticed the right side of the Philadelphia infield playing deep and could have tied the game if he had gotten the ball past Phillies reliever Brad Lidge.

But Lidge sprung off the mound quickly and Gwynn's bunt strayed a bit too far from the foul line, as Lidge coolly fielded the ball and flipped it with his glove to first baseman Ryan Howard.

"That's how it works," Gwynn said. "If you get it down, it's a good play; if you don't get it down, you look stupid."

The Phillies tacked on a run in the ninth when Shane Victorino crushed a home run into the right-field pavilion, to seal Hiroki Kuroda's 14th loss, which ties him for most in the league despite a 3.01 ERA.

The three runs Kuroda allowed in the first two innings must have felt more like 30. The Dodgers haven't won a game in which he's allowed a run since April 24.

Kuroda acknowledged frustration at the squandered opportunities on Monday night. He said when he surrenders a run, it often feels like more than just one.

"Especially when you're facing a pitcher like Halladay," said Kuroda, who was pitching his first game in Dodger Stadium since he opted not to waive his no-trade clause at the Trade Deadline. "When you give up a run, it's really hard to get a run from that guy. There's a lot of pressure."

Kuroda didn't have his best stuff early, and the Phillies capitalized for nine hits off the Dodgers righty. He settled down to allow four runs (three earned).

"You have your chances," manager Don Mattingly said. "You got a guy like Hiro, who basically kept us in the game. We got some big hits, really, but we just weren't able to scratch enough across.

Before the game Mattingly noted the importance of winning every day if the Dodgers want to scratch their way back into the National League West race. Monday they squandered a chance to cut their deficit to single-digits as they remain 10 games behind San Francisco.

Following the loss, Mattingly noted there are no moral victories for a team 10 games out in early August, but from his postgame mindset, Monday's loss came close.

"It's tough," he said. "But I'm really proud of our guys. We get down early and we really could have closed up shop. But we hang in there, we scratch to get back in it and give ourselves chance to get back in it."

But they squandered that chance by leaving runners on base in eight of nine innings, and leaving men in scoring position in six of them.

With runners on first and second in the eighth, shortstop Dee Gordon bounced a slow ground ball to Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, who was run into by Juan Rivera. Eugenio Velez was on second and instructed to return to the bag per the rule. Had he been on third, he likely would have scored on the ensuing wild pitch.

Instead, Gwynn's bunt attempt a few pitches later ended the threat.

The Dodgers left two runners on base in each of the previous two innings. Jamey Carroll ended the sixth by striking out, looking at a fastball that was either just on the outside corner or just off it. Andre Ethier, the first and only batter Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo faced, ended the seventh by hitting into a double play.

"He came back," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said of Bastardo. "He got Ethier to swing 3-0. He got beat then he came back and threw another fastball and hit into a double play."

In total, Los Angeles stranded 11 runners, going 2-for-13 with men in scoring position.

Mattingly was asked after the game if he was jealous looking across the field into the Phillies' dugout and seeing the wealth of talent and depth on a team now 35 games above .500.

"I've always been from the school of don't covet your neighbor's wife," he said. Comments