"Each game's individual," he says. "That's how we play them."
Or in the case of the last weekend, that's how they lose them, with the Dodgers going down in order against the Milwaukee Brewers. Add the losses up, though, and Sunday's 7-2 pratfall was the team's third in a row and fourth in five games — a trend that should be of concern even for a streak-denier such as Mattingly.
Because during that stretch the Dodgers have seen their division lead over the San Francisco Giants cut from a season-high six games to 3 1/2 with 36 left to play. And the best way to turn that around, Mattingly says, is one game at a time.
"You can't worry about yesterday," said the manager, whose team gets a day off Monday before beginning a three-game series against San Diego on Tuesday. "This game's done, this series is gone. We can't worry about two weeks from now. We play San Diego. It's not that complicated."
No, but parts of it are becoming commonplace for the Dodgers, who have been up and down so often this season it's a wonder their manager hasn't gotten the bends.
Sunday's loss marked the third time they've lost three in a row — but twice in the last two weeks they've also won three in a row.
In June and July, the Dodgers had the best record in the National League. In August, they've lost more games than they've won.
"It's just pretty normal for me," Mattingly said. "We were like this last year, really. We had one stretch. Other than that we were up and down."
That kind of inconsistency has also marked the season for pitcher Dan Haren, who followed two straight wins with a rough three-inning outing Sunday, his shortest of the year.
Haren (10-10) — and, by the extension, the Dodgers — were in trouble from the start, with the right-hander walking leadoff hitter Carlos Gomez before giving up a long two-run home run to Jonathan Lucroy. After nine pitches the Dodgers were down, 2-0, and it didn't get much better after that, with the Brewers taking advantage of an error by first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to score three more times in the second on Lucroy's two-out bases-loaded double off the wall in left-center.
"He didn't get the outs. That's pretty obvious," Mattingly said. "Things didn't go very well today. [But] each game is individual for Danny. I don't think one leads to the other."
By the fourth inning it was 6-0 Brewers and Haren's day was done. However the pitcher, like his manager, saw Sunday's game as just one loss and not part of something bigger.
"For me personally, it's just one game," said Haren, who had won his last two starts after losing the previous five. "I just have to regather myself. I'm confident it's not going to turn into something like before, when I had a couple of bad ones in a row."
And although Monday's off day, the Dodgers' first in three weeks, comes a day too late to save Haren, both he and Mattingly said it comes at a good time for the rest of the team.
"Obviously you lose three straight, a day off sounds pretty good," Mattingly said.
Added the 33-year-old Haren, one of 13 Dodgers older than 30: "We're not all 24. The guys are looking forward to a day [off]. It's been a tough few weeks. Our schedule's pretty crazy."
And it only figures to get crazier for the Dodgers, who lead the Giants by just two games in the loss column.
"There's so much baseball to be played still," Mattingly said. "We're just getting into this pennant race the way I look at it. Each and every day, grind it out."
One at a time.