Beckett's 'OK' start unsupported by Dodgers' offense
SAN FRANCISCO -- Adrian Gonzalez is beyond frustrated. The Dodgers' new first baseman understands the raw emotions of fans, who keep wondering when the surge from an offense built, at great expense, to rock will start to roll.
"We've lost six, seven games the last two weeks simply because we haven't scored runs," Gonzalez said following Friday night's demoralizing 5-2 loss to the Giants. "We're getting guys on. ... We've got to start driving them in.
"Personally, I've got to be ready to hit -- now. I kept telling myself tonight to be ready, and I kept fouling off good pitches to hit, four or five times. I've got to be on those pitches.
"Our pitchers are doing a great job. We can't keep putting them in these situations where one run makes a difference, where one hit can decide the game."
On this occasion, Gonzalez -- 0-for-4 with a walk -- was referring to former Boston teammate Josh Beckett. The big right-hander engaged Tim Lincecum in an intriguing 2-2 duel through six innings before Marco Scutaro's flare single to right field in the seventh delivered two decisive runs, ending Beckett's night.
"Josh pitched well," Gonzalez said. "We just didn't do the job offensively."
The Dodgers worked Lincecum for seven walks along with four hits in 6 1/3 innings, but they were a season-worst 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
Gonzalez, Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier -- hitters three through six -- were hitless in 17 combined at-bats. Adam Kennedy (solo homer), Mark Ellis and A.J. Ellis (two hits apiece) were left to drive the offense with the big guys grounded.
In order to make this weekend palatable, the Dodgers have to make enough noise to take the next two games. They've fallen 5 1/2 games behind the Giants in the National League West while remaining 1 1/2 games behind the Cardinals for the second Wild Card slot.
"This thing changes quickly," Mattingly said. "Win one and all of a sudden you're right there, in a six-, seven-game span. One team gets hot, and the next thing you know, it's a different game."
The rub is that the Giants give no indication of weakening. They have returned to their 2010 World Series championship form with an almost entirely new cast around Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and that superb rotation.
These Giants, Beckett discovered, don't need to bash balls into McCovey Cove or out by the gigantic glove above the stands in left-center field at AT&T Park. There isn't a Mays, McCovey, Cepeda or Bonds in the troupe.
These Giants hit and run, bunt and run, slap and run. Next thing you know, you're sitting there, like Beckett in the Dodgers' clubhouse, absorbing a loss made all the more frustrating by the inability of an offense to deliver on all that power potential.
Beckett compared the crackling atmosphere of the rivalry -- "Beat L.A.!" reverberating through the stands all night long -- to what he experienced when the Red Sox and Yankees were carrying on their intense rivalry on the opposite coast.
His third start in rotation was solid, but it didn't meet Beckett's approval. His standards are understandably lofty, constructed on uncommon personal and team success with matching World Series titles in Florida and Boston.
"They didn't bring me here to pitch OK," Beckett said. "They brought me here to pitch good.
"I made some pitches I needed to make, and in [other] situations I didn't make pitches I needed."
Beckett fell to 1-2. Lasting 6 1/3 innings on a brisk evening, he yielded four earned runs on seven singles and three walks.
The hit that knocked him out was a flare to right field by Dodgers killer Scutaro on a fastball away with one out in the seventh inning for a two-run cushion.
That's as good as gold for a deep Giants bullpen masterfully manipulated by manager Bruce Bochy, Gonzalez's former leader in San Diego.
Beckett had one-run leads get away in the third and sixth innings, Angel Pagan figuring both times with singles.
Pagan drove in Brandon Crawford, who moved up on a Lincecum bunt, with a two-out single to right in the third. In the sixth, Pagan dropped a bunt single, stole second and scored on Hunter Pence's two-out chopper that Kennedy couldn't grasp with his bare hand charging from third.
Preceding Scutaro's killing blow in the seventh, Beckett coughed up a leadoff single to Hector Sanchez. Gregor Blanco ran for the catcher and stole second. Two walks, one intentional, and another sacrifice bunt set up Scutaro for his soft single in front of Ethier in right.
"I felt like Josh pitched well," Mattingly said. "One guy [Pence] gets a swinging bunt hit, and another guy [Scutaro] hits one off the end of the bat.
"Josh's times to home were pretty good, but they were getting good jumps. They've got some speed."
Mattingly had the bullpen warm but elected to allow Beckett to pitch to Scutaro, reading his eyes while listening to his words.
"I wanted to make sure he wanted that guy," Mattingly said. "He didn't look like he was doubting himself. He'd handled Scutaro, and I felt good about the situation. So we let him have it. He hit one off the end of the bat. What can you do?"
What Beckett needed was more assistance from an offense that is generating far more frustration, internally and externally, than production.
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.