Dodgers drop sixth straight vs. Padres
NL West deficit reaches nine games despite Kemp's 5-for-5
LOS ANGELES -- It's hard to tell if they're listening.Teetering on falling out of the race entirely, the Dodgers started Monday afternoon with a team meeting. Most of the speaking came from manager Joe Torre, whose decision to stay or go next season may be teetering one way, too. Torre wasn't specific about what was said, but it isn't hard to decipher: Monday marked the start of a four-game set with the National League West-leading Padres. The Dodgers were on a five-game losing skid. The message: Get things right. It only took one inning to get it wrong. The Dodgers dropped their sixth straight, 10-5, matching their season-long losing streak for a second time. Los Angeles fell to nine games out in the NL West. It started with a pair of mental mistakes on the basepaths -- mistakes that had already cost the Dodgers one game this season. "It's bothersome, and it shouldn't happen," Torre said. "It's something that we have to stop doing. We have to cut down on our mistakes if we're going to get a chance to win something." The Dodgers offense, batting. 156 over the losing streak to start the night, had a chance to jump out to an early lead. With Matt Kemp on second base and James Loney on first, Casey Blake hit a two-out single center. Ideally, Kemp runs hard all the way home and Loney stops at second base. Neither happened. Loney tried to stretch for third and was thrown out before Kemp, who had entered into a trot, could cross the plate, keeping the game scoreless. "We had a situation where one runner didn't run fast enough and one runner ran too fast," Torre said. "They were both at fault. Matty, they can't throw him out, but he's certainly got to be aware that it's a 3-2 [count] situation, so you're running. And then James certainly has to be mindful of watching the guy in front of him and making sure that he's going to score. He can't go to third base if it's a slide tag, the only way you go to third base in a situation like that where you're the third out is if you can stand up. It was a double whammy." "I think I probably should've ran a little bit harder, I probably wouldn't have had to worry about it," Kemp said. "Loney was hustling, trying to stretch it." A 2-1 loss to the Angels in Anaheim on June 23 ended on a similar play, with Reed Johnson playing the role of Kemp and Russell Martin the role of Loney. Kemp otherwise had an outstanding night. He was 5-for-5, setting a career high for hits in a game with a solo home run in the eighth off Edward Mujica. Rafael Furcal has the Dodgers' only other five-hit performance this season, on June 15 against Cincinnati. "It's really not wasted," Kemp said. "I'll take it into my approach tomorrow and try to make something good out of it." There wasn't a big hit to be found early, though. The Dodgers had seven hits and no runs to show for them through the first three innings. In the top of the fourth, the L.A. defense made its second error of the game and Hiroki Kuroda was in his final inning. Will Venable's three-run homer contributed to a five-run Padres frame. "I was pitching well, it was just a mistake pitch, and that's what happens," Kuroda said. "I wanted to locate it a little bit, and he hit a home run. I still thought it was a good pitch." Down, 5-0, and desperate for offense, Torre pulled Kuroda after just 75 pitches for pinch-hitter Ronnie Belliard in the bottom of the fourth. The gamble worked. Belliard's single to center cut the Padres lead to 5-1, and a fortunate bounce on a Kemp grounder three batters later reduced the lead to 5-2. But Jeff Weaver couldn't hold the Padres, who led 10-2 by the top of the sixth. Weaver allowed five runs in two innings and has let up 10 runs over his last five appearances. That the Dodgers matched the Padres with 14 hits, their most since July 3 in Arizona, was a positive. So was Carlos Monasterios' two scoreless innings in relief, bringing his ERA as a reliever to 1.63 in 27 2/3 innings. The team's overall struggles, though? Torre can't remember being a part of something like that since 1996. He hinted there are still steps he can take.
"You have to make sure you don't lose composure," he said. "It doesn't mean you're just going to sit back and wish for things to happen."
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.