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As answers elude Dan Haren, Dodgers face hole in rotation's back half

Dan HarenLos Angeles DodgersJosh BeckettDon MattinglySan Diego PadresChase HeadleyScott Van Slyke
Dodgers pitcher Dan Haren can't pinpoint the problems that have caused his recent slump

Dan Haren fiddled his thumb and cracked his knuckles restively in the Dodgers' clubhouse. Approaching the All-Star break, Haren hasn’t pitched to his expectations, and perhaps he is starting to grow restless.

The Padres, the lowest-scoring team in the league by a significant margin, tagged Haren for four runs in four innings in the Dodgers’ 6-3 loss Friday night. And with Josh Beckett out, the Dodgers' rotation is beginning to look top-heavy, like a seesaw that tilts one way.

At the top, Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu are a formidable trio. After that, Beckett has been a pleasant surprise this season, but he was placed on the disabled list Tuesday with a hip injury. And Haren now has a 5.73 earned-run average since the start of June.

Paul Maholm will start in Beckett’s place on Saturday.

Manager Don Mattingly said he wasn’t worried about the thin back end of the rotation. 

“We’re OK,” he said. “I have confidence in Danny, and I feel like Josh is doing well. So I’m not really, at this point, really concerned.”

Haren compared his problems now to those of last year, when he had a 5.61 ERA through the first half of the season before a second-half resurgence. He said this stretch has been just as frustrating.

Equally as grating is the fact that he hasn’t been able to pinpoint his issues. His velocity is up, and he struck out five Friday. He isn’t walking many batters, but he also isn’t hitting spots. Mattingly said he is leaving the ball up. And his problems have snowballed, Haren said.

He was close to dodging more damage in the fifth inning against the Padres, when Chase Headley sent a drive to the deepest part of the park. Center fielder Scott Van Slyke gave chase, but his leaping attempt fell short and a run scored. Headley would score with the next at-bat, and Haren’s night would be over.

Haren said he would watch tape of his performance on Saturday to try to tease out a pattern. But so far, one has eluded him.

“I don’t know,” Haren said. “I’m searching right now.”

Follow Zach Helfand on Twitter: @zhelfand

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Dan HarenLos Angeles DodgersJosh BeckettDon MattinglySan Diego PadresChase HeadleyScott Van Slyke
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