The Dodgers returned to Los Angeles on Wednesday night a first-place team, but the way they played against the San Francisco Giants did nothing to ease the pain of a dismal trip. They lost, 4-1, again coming close, but not having a closer to trust proved costly.
Tom Candiotti, who pitched in all four cities on this trip, held the Giants to no runs and four hits through seven innings, but he suddenly seemed to lose control of his knuckleball in the eighth.
With the Dodgers leading, 1-0, Candiotti gave up the tying run, loaded the bases and walked Dave Martinez to bring in the winning run.
Manager Tom Lasorda might have pulled him for a reliever at the first sign of trouble, but his bullpen has done little to earn his trust. Candiotti, who at that point had pitched 27 innings in the team's last 13 games, was not replaced.
Kirt Manwaring followed the walk with a drive into the gap in left-center field that bounced off the back wall for a ground-rule double, scoring two more runs to put the Giants ahead, 4-1.
Omar Daal relieved Candiotti and ended the inning by getting left-handed Todd Benzinger to pop up.
Rod Beck retired the Dodgers in order in the ninth, moving the Giants to a half game behind the Dodgers in the National League West and winning the series, 2-1. The teams meet again for a three-game series at Dodger Stadium the final weekend of the season, if the schedule is not altered because of a player strike.
The Dodgers were 3-10 on the trip, after leaving two weeks ago with a five-game lead.
"I want to forget this trip," Tim Wallach said. "It was not good, that says it all. We didn't do anything well."
Against starter Bill Swift, the Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the third inning on a series of close calls.
Raul Mondesi was safe on an infield single to shortstop Royce Clayton, though the replay showed the call made by first base umpire Brian Gorman was questionable. He went to third when Bill Swift's made a bad throw on a pick-off attempt, and was safe when Matt Williams dropped the ball.
In the third, the Giants loaded the bases for Darryl Strawberry with a single and two walks, to Barry Bonds and Matt Williams, to whom Candiotti threw four consecutive balls. To Strawberry, Candiotti went 2-2 to before striking him out on a called third strike.
Pitching with a few runs, or no runs, is something Candiotti got used to last season, when the Dodgers averaged only 2.53 runs per game for him, the lowest run support in the league for a starting pitcher.