Dodgers Try And Rally

It’s not for a lack of effort or talent, because the Dodgers have an abundance of both. As preseason favorites to capture a third straight National League West crown, the still-new season is somewhat in a holding pattern.

The team played lackluster and uninspired in their recent nine-game road trip that saw the club finish 2-7 including dropping the final four games.

For whatever reason, maybe it’s the palm trees behind the outfield pavilions at Dodger Stadium, or the mountains supplying a breath-taking backdrop, it made a difference as the “Blue Crew’’ took three of four from the slumbering Pittsburgh Pirates after last Sunday’s 9-3 victory, and may have solved some issues.

The Dodgers lost, 2-0, on Thursday, when center fielder Matt Kemp misjudged a liner by Ryan Doumit that was ruled a triple in the first inning, and scored two runs off Clayton Kershaw, who struck out seven and walked four.

Brian Burres held the Dodgers to four hits. He struck out three and walked four, but was given credit for the win after toiling five-and-one-third innings.

On Friday, leadoff hitter Xavier Paul, who was recalled from the minors after Manny Ramirez was put on the 15-day disabled list, was the table-setter in a 6-2 victory.

Chad Billingsley had a second strong outing, fanning four and walking three in six innings, and giving up six hits.

Paul singled in four at-bats and scored two runs, while Andre Ethier mashed his sixth homer of the season, a two-run shot in the first inning, and James Loney added a three-run drive over the wall for his first homer.

The next day, the Dodgers recorded a 5-1 decision against the Buccaneers, with Ethier, who had three hits and two runs scored, making himself heard with a three-run homer in the third.

Rookie hurler Carlos Monasterios failed to get the win because he only went four innings, but Ramon Ortiz, who played with the Angels for many years, worked three innings, striking out five with no walks.

When the Dodgers (11-14) arrived home after being swept by the New York Mets, fingers were being pointed and criticial voices were being raised, which isn’t the best way to get out of a funk.

Much of the criticism was directed at Kemp by General Manager Ned Colletti, who inferred that Kemp, an up-and-coming outfielder who recently signed a $10.95 million contract, wasn’t playing up to his potential.

There’s enough blame to go around, and it starts with an average starting pitching staff. Vicente Padilla, the opening day hurler, was placed on the disabled list, as was reliever Jeff Weaver.

Spanning that nine-game excursion, the Dodgers lost two of three to the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals, and were outscored 55-41.

That Ramirez, an aging, but still productive power-hitter was put on the disabled list, really started the ball rolling.

Then again, the Dodgers still have Ethier, Kemp, Loney, Casey Blake, Rafael Furcal and Russell Martin.

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