LOS ANGELES -- James McDonald's four runs in five innings Monday night offered no more certainty to the fifth spot in the Dodgers' rotation than it's had all season.
And with that start ending in the team's fifth straight loss to start the second half, 5-2 to the Giants, that hole at the end of an otherwise solid four-man staff is festering.
Whether McDonald receives another start, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said, would depend on "where we are."
"For the most part I thought he threw the ball well," Torre said. "I know the numbers won't look good, but I was impressed with the way he threw the ball."
McDonald struck out five, allowed nine hits and walked two.
Early on, the 24-year-old right-hander's day seemed like it could go the way of his predecessor John Ely's final two starts -- an exit by the third inning. But McDonald worked out of a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the second inning, starting with a strikeout of Travis Ishikawa on three straight changeups.
"Just making big pitches when I needed to," McDonald said.
He wasn't out of the woods though. The Giants scored two in the top of the third, and two more in the top of the fourth on McDonald's worst pitch of the night, a changeup that hung above the belt for Nate Schierholtz, who made it 4-0 on his third home run of the season.
"I made good pitches at times, they put some good swings on the ball on good pitches," said McDonald.
"I thought he threw the ball good, but again, throwing the ball good isn't good enough if you don't locate it," Torre said. "I thought his stuff was good, his offspeed stuff, the slider which is a new pitch for him. But there were a couple of counts where he got ahead in the count and probably made his pitches a little too fat."
McDonald appeared in 45 games in the big leagues last season almost exclusively as a reliever and was a candidate for the fifth spot out of Spring Training this year, but he didn't perform well, and a hamstring injury took him away for a month earlier this season. He was 6-1 with a 4.41 ERA in 12 starts for Triple-A Albuquerque, and 4-0 with a 2.79 ERA in his last five starts before the callup.
Torre talked before the game about the success Ely had in his most recent start at Albuquerque, a three-run, seven-inning performance Sunday.
"Ely had a good night last night," Torre said. "And the report was he was very good. So you know we're at this point in the season now we look to get help from wherever we can find it. Try to get enough stuff on the left side of the ledger basically."
McDonald said he wasn't worried about whether he gets another chance: "If they call on me, then I'm going to go back out there."
Manny to undergo MRI on ailing right calf
LOS ANGELES -- Manny Ramirez was not in the Dodgers' lineup Monday night and is to undergo an MRI on his right calf on Tuesday.
Ramirez went to the disabled list for a calf injury in April, and the results of the MRI will likely determine whether another trip is necessary.
"He felt a little better," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "He feels it when he's out there running. He was out there earlier today. We're just going to take another look, so today he continues to be unavailable for us."
Monday was Ramirez's third straight missed game.
Jamey Carroll made his first start of the season in the outfield in place of Ramirez in left. Carroll, the Dodgers' utility man extraordinaire, has appeared in the outfield in 16 games over his nine-year career, 10 of those as starts. He played left field four times last season.
"He's played the outfield, I think he's played a time or two maybe even center field or right field," Torre said. "But he's played enough outfield, I'm comfortable. He's been out there a time or two taking balls. So we'll see."
Outfield help should return soon with Reed Johnson returning to baseball activities Monday before a likely rehab assignment. Johnson is out with a lumbar strain, and may be able to come off the disabled list the first day he's eligible, on Saturday at against the Mets at Dodger Stadium, but that'll be dependent on how much rehab he needs and its success.
Loney, Martin return to Dodgers' lineup
LOS ANGELES -- James Loney and Russell Martin both returned to the Dodgers' lineup Monday night for the start of a three-game series against the Giants at Dodger Stadium.
Loney said Monday he felt 100 percent after suffering a left hamstring cramp that interrupted his ninth-inning at-bat Saturday in St. Louis.
"He still feels it," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "It doesn't look like it's a hamstring issue. I think it's still what's left over from that spasm he had, that was caused by the heat [in St. Louis]."
Martin had kept quiet about a bone bruise on his left thumb until it hurt him enough that he had to be removed after an at-bat against the Cardinals on Friday night.
"I didn't even feel it until that point, I was swinging, I couldn't even grip the bat.," Martin said. "I don't remember exactly when it happened. I don't think it was just like one pitch. I think I kind of banged it up on a pitch and, you know, just catching every day, every day, after awhile it just started to worsen. Now it's better."
Martin iced the hand to reduce inflammation and he's also going to be catching with a custom pad that combines hard and soft materials to cushion the blow. There is a possibility that the injury could be aggravated, in which case, the Dodgers would be able to reactivate Brad Ausmus.
Ideally, the Dodgers may want to give the 41-year-old backup catcher some more rehab time, but he is physically able to play now, team trainer Stan Conte said. Ausmus, out since April after back surgery, caught nine innings for Triple-A Albuquerque on Sunday and was with the Dodgers on Monday.
"If he gets hit there again it'll bother him," Conte said of Martin. "If something happened, somebody got hurt, and they wanted to move somebody in, [Ausmus] could come in."
As for Martin's secrecy, Torre said it wasn't preferred: "We've said that many times. And I know on the other side of it he's trying not to be a handicap to anybody, but it would help if you tried to get it better, too."
Dodgers lefty Sherrill clears outright waivers
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers reliever George Sherrill has cleared outright waivers without being claimed by another team. Before the end of the current waiver period, which ends July 31, the Dodgers can attempt to send Sherrill on a Minor League assignment, removing him from the 40-man roster, or release him.
"George Sherrill doesn't have a situation. He's still in our bullpen," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "I think he's throwing the ball better."
With Ronald Belisario absent from the team and Ramon Troncoso in the Minor Leagues, the Dodgers may need Sherrill, despite the 33-year-old left-hander's 7.17 ERA in 36 appearances. He finished last season with an 0.65 ERA in 30 appearances for the Dodgers.
"He's still having trouble locating it the way he needs to and wants to," Torre said. "I think he's got a little better command of it, but again, it's tough to bring him in this situation until he has a couple of good ones under his belt."
If the Dodgers do choose to send Sherrill on a Minor League assignment, he as a player with more than five years of service has the choice to consent to it, reject it or declare free agency. Declaring free agency would nullify the remainder of his $4.5 million salary. If Sherrill rejected the assignment, the club must either release him to become a free agent (and pay him) or keep him on the active roster.
Closer Broxton unavailable on Monday
LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton was unavailable Monday night and may not be available Tuesday night after throwing 44 pitches and working in two innings in his third blown save and first loss of the season Sunday in St. Louis.
"[Hong-Chih] Kuo will be our go to guy tonight," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said.
Kemp moved to sixth in lineup vs. lefty
LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp batted sixth in the Dodgers' lineup Monday while Casey Blake was penciled in as the cleanup hitter against Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner.
"I just moved him down because Casey's been having better at-bats against left-handers," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "So it was him or Casey hitting sixth and I just happened to put Casey in the four-hole. Without Manny [Ramirez], it's tough to devise lineups every day."
Kemp has five hits in his last 28 at-bats and is batting .278 against left-handers this season. Blake is hitting .301 against southpaws.
"He's aware that he's struggling somewhat," Torre said of Kemp. "You lose your selectivity out there is what it amounts to. When he lets the ball come to him a little bit, he responds to it really well. But he's been jumping out there early."
Dodgers Minor Leaguer Wilmer Colmenarez has received an immediate 50-game suspension after testing positive for metabolites of Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance. The 20-year-old Venezuelan, a right-handed pitcher, had made one appearance for the Dodgers' Dominican Summer League team this season. ... Dodgers manager Joe Torre is becoming more and more convinced of the National League West-leading Padres. "The first response would be 'Yeah,' [their success is surprising]. But then when you see how they're doing it, then it isn't because their pitching is so solid. To me that's the key. They don't go away and the more they do it the more confidence they have that they can do it." The Dodgers, in fourth place, were 5 1/2 games out entering Monday. ... One of Torre's favorite birthday gifts for his 70th birthday was a caricature of himself by famous New York Daily News cartoonist Bill Gallo. ... Sasha Vujacic of the world champion Lakers threw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday at Dodger Stadium to a hearty ovation.
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.