Manny can’t clean this up
PHILADELPHIA -- The Dodgers had been routed for the second time within 24 hours. Jeff Kent sat at his locker, quietly, wondering how so many people could have been fooled into believing that Manny Ramirez had solved all of the Dodgers’ problems.
By people, he meant the media.
“You guys thought we were going to win the World Series, didn’t you?” he said.
There was a buzz about Ramirez, about the Dodgers, about the playoffs. Now there is the wrong kind of anticipation, the worry that October might go on without the Dodgers after all.
The Dodgers lost again Saturday, for the fifth time in seven games. The Philadelphia Phillies whipped them, 9-2, with Pat Burrell hitting a home run and driving in five runs.
In the first two games of this series, the Dodgers have been outscored, 17-3. They have scored three runs or fewer in six of their last seven games.
“Within the last two weeks, we’ve been riding on top,” Kent said. “Now we’re riding on the bottom.”
If the Dodgers lose tonight, they’ll be riding their first three-game losing streak since the All-Star break.
The Manny Era is not proceeding gloriously.
The Dodgers’ record without Ramirez: 54-54. Their record with him: 11-10.
That would be 9-5 to start, 2-5 since.
And they now trail first-place Arizona by three games in the National League West.
“Even though we got Manny, we’re not going to beat people’s brains out,” Manager Joe Torre said. “We’re going to have to pitch and play defense. We’re not going to go out there and outscore people.”
The Dodgers did not excel at pitching or defense Saturday. Clayton Kershaw gave up the most runs in his 15 career starts. The Phillies tagged him for six runs in four-plus innings, and Kershaw (2-4) suffered his first defeat since July 22.
The Dodgers were done, as it turned out, before Kershaw got an out. After he started the first inning by hitting Jimmy Rollins and giving up a single to Chase Utley, Burrell homered to lift the Phillies to a 3-0 lead.
The Phillies scored three more in the fifth, in part thanks to a gift double, when center fielder Matt Kemp lost a routine fly ball by Burrell in the sun.
“I would have caught it if I saw it,” Kemp said.
The Dodgers had their highlights, but not many. Kershaw got his first career hit, a single. Russell Martin hit a two-run home run, matching his RBI total for the month on one swing.
Ramirez drove in 21 runs in his first 16 games with the Dodgers. He hasn’t driven in a run in his last five games, although Torre absolved him of blame.
Take Saturday, for instance, when the first three batters in the Philadelphia lineup -- Rollins, Utley and Burrell -- went six for 12 and scored eight runs. The first three batters in the Dodgers’ lineup -- Kemp, Andre Ethier and Kent -- went 0 for 12, with five strikeouts.
“A big part of it is the top of the order,” Torre said. “In order for the middle of the lineup to perform, we have to put the pitcher in position to have to pitch to those guys.”
Torre said he did not anticipate any lineup changes on his supposedly new and improved team.
“We’re absolutely a better team,” Kent said. “The younger guys are starting to play better. To add some veteran players -- Casey [Blake], Manny, Greg [Maddux] -- absolutely makes us better. We’re better at handling situations.”
Better, yes. Good enough? That remains to be seen.