First the good news: Nobody in a Dodgers uniform was injured Sunday.
Now the bad news: Sunday's 4-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants was the Dodgers' third in a row and eighth in 11 games, the team's worst slump in nearly three months. That sliced their National League West lead to its narrowest point in September and, for those who care about such things, it leaves the team's magic number at four.
Only that magic number has nothing to do with the combination of Dodgers victories and Arizona Diamondbacks losses needed to send the Dodgers to the playoffs. In this case, it's the number of starters the team has lost to injury in the last five days.
Outfielders Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig were the latest to join that list when they were unable to start Sunday because of back and hip injuries, respectively. Also out is Andre Ethier, the third starting outfielder, who has his left ankle in a walking boot, and shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who needed cortisone shots for an irritated nerve in his back.
It's uncertain if any of the four will be able to play Monday when the Dodgers open their final trip of the regular season in Arizona. And without them the team's sprint to the playoffs has slowed to an unsteady hobble.
"We're just trying to get guys back and get healthy," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "And then we'll try to get back to business. We're not in the postseason yet, so we've still got to win games."
That the Dodgers will get to the postseason seems inevitable. Their 101/2-game lead in the division may be the smallest it has been this month, but it's also the largest in in the majors. So with two victories in their four-game series in Arizona, the Dodgers can become the first team to clinch a playoff berth.
It's unlikely the Dodgers will go far in the playoffs with the starting lineup they had Sunday, one that featured an outfield of Jerry Hairston Jr., Skip Schumaker and rookie Nick Buss, who was making his first start.
"We had a bunch of guys out earlier in the year and we had trouble winning games," said Manager Don Mattingly, whose team was last in the division in mid-June, when it had more All-Stars on the disabled list than in the lineup.
"Hopefully, we get a little healthier and get a guy back here, a guy back there. But we can't control that."
And now even some of the players in good health have become cause for concern. Left-hander Paco Rodriguez, solid all season, has struggled in September, giving up more earned runs in seven games then he gave up in the previous 10 weeks.
Sunday he gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Brett Pill leading off the eighth inning. Combined with two earlier home runs from Hunter Pence, who finished the four-game series with five home runs and 12 runs batted in, Pill's shot proved to be the game winner when the Dodgers, who stranded 10 runners, failed to score after loading the bases in the ninth.
Puig, used as a pinch-hitter, made the final out by grounding to shortstop.
"There's ebbs and flows. It's just the way baseball goes," Ellis said. "We're trying to get everybody back on the field healthy.
"We know we have to go and take care of business. We've got to start playing better baseball."
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