Dodgers walk off field empty-handed

Times Staff Writer

DENVER -- The magic number for the Dodgers to win the National League West is down to 10 games, their season-long goal close enough that Manager Joe Torre said he is thinking of doing something he never previously considered: resting Manny Ramirez.

Ramirez has played in every game since being acquired by the Dodgers on July 31, but Torre said he is open to resting him for a day “if things keep going well.”

They very well could.

The Dodgers have won 12 of 14 games, four of six games of this trip, and start a four-game series tonight in Pittsburgh, which has the third-worst record in the NL. The second-place Arizona Diamondbacks, who trail the Dodgers by 4 1/2 games, have lost seven of eight games.


The Dodgers fell to the Colorado Rockies in 10 innings on Sunday but weren’t particularly disturbed at how the 1-0 loss prevented a three-game sweep, particularly when told they were part of history.

In the 14-year existence of Coors Field, a game never went into extra innings in a scoreless tie.

“Oh, is it?” said Dodgers starter Greg Maddux, who tossed seven innings of two-hit ball. “Awesome. Who would’ve thought there’d ever be a day when there would be a good day to pitch at Coors Field?”

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt smiled.

“That makes me feel much better,” he said.

At a time when arms are supposed to be tiring, the Dodgers held the Rockies to four runs over the three-game series. Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw started the other games.

In their first six games at Coors Field this season, the Dodgers gave up 45 runs, including 25 in a three-game series in July.

“Other than the way the ball flies here, it’s pretty good,” Maddux said of the ballpark.

The one arm that is tired is that of Hong-Chih Kuo, who gave up four hits in the 10th inning, including a walk-off single to Troy Tulowitzki with the bases loaded.

Kuo, who received a cortisone injection in his triceps Thursday, hadn’t pitched in a week.

“I feel better,” he said.

He denied being injured and shrugged off suggestions that he could be rusty, saying, “Just a bad day.”

Health is an area that remains a significant concern for the Dodgers, who are not sure whether Rafael Furcal and Jeff Kent will be able to play in the postseason.

The latest issue surfaced when third baseman Casey Blake felt tightness in his lower back and had to be replaced by Nomar Garciaparra in the sixth inning. The move was precautionary, Torre said.

“I don’t think it’s anything serious,” said Blake, who wasn’t sure whether he would play in Pittsburgh today.

Garciaparra is also hurting enough that Torre said he is unsure whether the veteran is physically capable of being the team’s everyday shortstop again. Torre said that physical limitations, not performance, are the reason Garciaparra is not starting regularly.

Garciaparra said he remains hindered by the problems that affected him last month, when he started 14 of the Dodgers’ 17 games on Aug. 12-29.

The strained calves that sent Garciaparra to the disabled list in April continue to bother him. So does the sprained knee that landed him on the disabled list in August.

Torre said he wasn’t worried that he wasn’t able to get the recently activated Takashi Saito or Brad Penny an inning or two in this series.

“Those situations will come up,” Torre said.