LOS ANGELES -- With only three starters guaranteed to pitch every time through the rotation, the Dodgers can't climb out of the National League West cellar if two of those pitchers falter -- and not just falter, but blow up early -- on back-to-back nights.
Clayton Kershaw gave up seven runs in the second inning Tuesday and Chad Billingsley four runs in the first inning Wednesday, both cruise-control wins for the Brewers.
Manager Joe Torre, frustrated but not angered by the team's 3-7 performance over its past 10 games, said the team will climb out of the cellar on the heels of its pitching, and he remains confident in those core three starters: Kershaw, Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda.
"If I felt people didn't care, that's where the anger kicks in," Torre said. "I believe players are every bit as frustrated ... the success is going to have to come from those guys, and it's going to on a regular basis. Trust me."
Furcal nearing return to Dodgers' lineup
LOS ANGELES -- Rafael Furcal's strained left hamstring could be 100 percent by this weekend, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Thursday with an eye on a return for late next week.
"Even though he doesn't like attention, he's a big ingredient, and in saying that, Jamey Carroll's done a great job," Torre said. "Raffy's got some extraordinary ability, leadership ability, too. He's still in the dugout, but he's reluctuant to say anything because he's on the disabled list."
If Furcal keeps progressing, he could play in rehab games with Triple-A Albuquerque at Colorado Springs on Tuesday and Wednesday then rejoin the team before opening a series with the Padres in San Diego on Friday. But before he is cleared to play, he has to be able to run and perform baseball activities at 100 percent.
"He continues to do well and progress," director of medical services Stan Conte said. "The key is to get him over this 85 percent running level, and we'll do that in the next couple of days, if he's able."
Manny goes 0-for-1 in second rehab start
LOS ANGELES -- Manny Ramirez went 0-for-1 with a walk and run scored Thursday night in his second rehab start for Class A Inland Empire. Ramirez, on his way back from a strained calf, also struck out swinging.
If Ramirez feels healthy Friday, he can be activated on Saturday for the middle game of a three-game set with the Rockies at Dodger Stadium.
Ramirez batted leadoff and played left field, but did not catch any fly balls in four innings.
Sherrill working hard to correct troubles
LOS ANGELES -- Before George Sherrill allowed two runs in the ninth inning of a blowout on Wednesday, he swore to Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt he wouldn't look at video again to try to correct his troubles.
Sherrill, re-signed to a one-year, $4.5 million deal this offseason after posting a 0.65 ERA in 30 games for the Dodgers in 2009, has a 9.00 ERA through 15 appearances. He's walked twice as many batters (12) as he's struck out (six).
On Wednesday night, after tossing his glove to a fan above the Dodgers dugout in frustration, he was back looking at the video again. For manager Joe Torre, that's a good thing.
"I go in there, I watch him sitting and talking to Rick, looking at video," Torre said. "He's still trying to figure it out. Am I losing confidence in the big picture? No. But right now, until he's sure what he can do out there, it's for me to be sure."
Sherrill thinks he's at least identified the problem this time, if not fixed it. To right-handers, he said, he's almost recoiling in his delivery by a hair, but he's following through as he should in his delivery to left-handers. It would make sense: Left-handers are hitting .182 off him, right-handers .462.
"It's something that's very small that's for some reason throwing everything off," Sherrill said.
Torre recalls facing Roberts
LOS ANGELES -- In his career, Dodgers manager Joe Torre was 4-for-5 off Phillies great Robin Roberts, who passed away Thursday at 83. But what Torre remembered first wasn't the high-90s fastball Roberts was known for as part of the 1950 Whiz Kids, it was a floating knuckleball that hit him in one at-bat.
"He went from a 98 mph fastball to trying to find a way to continue to pitch," Torre said. "Sweet man, one of the nicest men I ever knew. He pitched a lot with the bottom half of his body, as did [Tom] Seaver, as did Nolan [Ryan]. Again, those freak of natures -- Warren Spahn -- he'd get up Christmas Day and throw the ball as hard as he's going to throw it all year."
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.