Lower back pain takes out Furcal
DENVER -- Rafael Furcal has played with a sore right shoulder and a sprained left ankle this season, pushing through pain that would have sidelined most players. So when he came to Manager Grady Little after six innings of Tuesday’s first game and said he couldn’t continue because of a painful lower back, Little never bothered asking for a second opinion.
“He’s a guy that plays through a lot of aches and pains,” Little said. “But this just got too bad for him. There’s no question about it when he says he can’t go.”
Furcal, who popped to short and hit two weak grounders back to the mound before benching himself, hurt his lower back sliding in last weekend’s series with Arizona. The Dodgers are unsure when he’ll play again.
“He’s day to day,” Little said.
Trainer Stan Conte said Furcal’s pain eased somewhat after treatment. He’ll be reevaluated this morning and then again just before game time.
Jonathan Broxton’s troubles continued in the eighth inning of Tuesday’s second game when he came in to protect a three-run lead and gave up a single and two-run home run to the first two batters he faced.
Ryan Spilborghs’ homer, a 430-foot blast to center, was the fourth homer in five road games allowed by Broxton, who had a club-record streak of 94 consecutive appearances without a home run snapped last month in Philadelphia.
Broxton gave up a pair of game-winning home runs in San Francisco on the last road trip, while Spilborghs’ homer, his first since Aug. 8, set the stage for Helton’s game-winner in the ninth.
Matt Kemp had a pair of hits in both ends of Tuesday’s doubleheader, driving in a run with a double in game two. Former Rockie Juan Pierre also had hits in both games, going three for five and scoring twice batting in the leadoff spot in the nightcap to raise his season average to .293. He needs 18 hits in the Dodgers’ final 11 games for his fifth 200-hit season.
Chad Billingsley gave up just two runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings Tuesday but all that added up to was his first loss in more than a month when his teammates could muster nothing more than a pinch-hit home run in support.
“We had chances,” Little said.
Tuesday marked the first time in four September starts in which Billingsley has allowed more than one earned, leaving his with a 1.48 ERA for month. But he’s won in just two of those outings and is 11-5 on the season.
Little said he has few options other than to start struggling right-hander Esteban Loaiza in the opener of this weekend’s three-game series with division-leading Arizona.
“I’m really not sure what it would change to -- if it changed,” Little said of his rotation.
Loaiza has allowed nine runs and 11 walks in his last eight innings, losing to the Padres and Diamondbacks.
“The guy has been a strike-thrower his whole career,” Little said. “If he puts the ball in the strike zone, he’ll be OK.”
Third baseman Andy La Roche took a one-hop smash off his surgically repaired left shoulder during batting practice before Tuesday’s first game but played anyway, striking out three times before leaving in a double-switch in the sixth. That left the rookie batting .158 with 10 strikeouts in 19 at-bats since being recalled from the minors this month.