Dodgers are done in the West
PHOENIX -- The Dodgers’ predicament took a more concrete form Saturday, as they were officially eliminated from contention in the National League West and moved to within a game of the same fate in the wild-card race.
Making an already dire situation worse, the Dodgers had their season-high losing streak reach seven games in a 6-2 defeat to the division-leading Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.
With seven games left, the Dodgers fell nine games behind the Diamondbacks and remained seven games behind the San Diego Padres for the wild-card spot.
Nothing could save the Dodgers on this night. Not the team meeting that followed the Dodgers’ series-opening loss Friday night -- during which Manager Grady Little, Jeff Kent and Nomar Garciaparra spoke to the team about closing out the season strong. And certainly not David Wells, who gave up five runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings pitching on three days of rest.
“We’re too good of a team to be getting beat like this,” Wells said. “Right now, there are no cylinders whatsoever.”
The Dodgers’ offense continued to sputter, as Brandon Webb limited them to two runs in 6 1/3 innings. The Dodgers didn’t score until Tony Abreu hit a two-run double in the seventh inning.
And what was already a long week for James Loney grew longer, as he fouled a ball off the plate in the third inning that bounced back and crashed into his left ear. Cradling his head with both hands, Loney rolled around on the ground, prompting trainer Stan Conte to sprint out of the dugout.
Loney remained in the game, and finished with two hits in four at-bats. This only a day after he lashed back at Kent, who earlier in the week criticized the team’s younger players.
Little said he spoke to Kent about the remarks the second baseman made in Colorado but declined to offer any thoughts about the situation other than to say there was “a lot of frustration” on the team.
“We’ve talked about frustration, and the frustration can’t mount any more,” Little said.
The Dodgers’ lineup was a clear sign of where they stood.
Russell Martin wasn’t behind the plate; he was replaced by the seldom-used Mike Lieberthal. Garciaparra, who was two for three Friday, was replaced at third base by September call-up Andy La Roche.
Little promised as much after losing the series opener, saying he would be fielding different lineups the remainder of the season.
As the Dodgers fade from contention, some players are starting to discuss the role of playing spoilers.
Said Matt Kemp: “If we can’t make the playoffs, it’s not like we’re going to curl up and die.”
But that’s what they seemed to do Saturday night.
The first pitch Wells delivered to the plate resulted in a 468-foot home run by Chris Young into the second deck above the left-field wall.
Like Young, Mark Reynolds managed to hit his second home run in as many days, belting a solo shot in the third that put the Diamondbacks ahead, 4-0.
The Dodgers loaded the bases in the sixth, but La Roche struck out to end the threat.
“It’d be a shame if we just laid down,” Wells said. “I don’t think anybody is going to do that. I think there are veteran guys who won’t let that happen.”