Dodgers can only find safety behind the 'marathon' talk for so long

Dodgers can only find safety behind the 'marathon' talk for so long
San Francisco outfielder Justin Maxwell hits a two-run home run off of Carlos Frias during the fifth inning of a game Saturday. The Dodgers lost to the Giants, 6-2. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

So the baseball-is-a-long-season speech was getting a lot of play in the Dodgers' clubhouse after the Giants beat them Saturday for the ninth time in 11 games.

"We still have to play over 90 games," said catcher Yasmani Grandal.

"It's a marathon," said first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

All true, of course. Baseball offers sports' most grueling season. They spend six weeks in spring training just to warm up for a six-month season. Every team goes through good times and bad, though the good teams go through a lot less of the bad.

The Dodgers are certainly going through one of their rough stretches now. They've lost five of their last six games and nine of their last 16. Their offense has gone as cold as a killers' heart. And, of course, they absolutely cannot beat rival San Francisco.

Which now leaves their lead in the National League West to a half-game over the Giants.

"To me it means if we win [Sunday], we'll be 1 1/2 games up," Gonzalez said. "Nobody goes back after you win a division and says, 'Who'd you beat and who'd you lose to?' Once you get in the playoffs, it's about beating the team in front of you."

Gonzalez said the Dodgers have to come out Sunday and "play like it's the most important game of our lives."


"I know a lot of people like to focus on the last two weeks," he said. "It's a long season. We've all been through ups and downs, and you're going to have times like this when the offense struggles.

"But who knows? Maybe in two weeks you're going to be talking about how good our offense is and you'll forget all about these last two weeks. We have to just keep working, keep grinding and hopefully tomorrow is the game that turns things around."

The Giants know something about turning their season around. They were 17-18 and 5 1/2 games back of the Dodgers when they started play May 15. Then they beat the Reds three consecutive times, shut out the Dodgers three straight more and have gone 21-14 to pull within a half game.

"We haven't been playing good baseball at all the last couple of weeks and we're still in first place," Gonzalez said. "I guess that's something to keep your heads up about."

It's the glass-half-full approach. Teams can still go there in late June. They can go there when they're still a half game up.

Baseball is a long grind, but it also has turning points. Times that define a season, that demonstrate what a team is fully about. The Giants may have pushed the Dodgers to such a moment. And they need to respond with more than the safety of marathon speeches.

Twitter: @SteveDilbeck