Jason Schmidt has another off night
Jason Schmidt hit Craig Counsell on the lower leg with a 71-mph curveball, and the Dodgers’ pitcher was done.
Schmidt wasn’t forced from the Dodgers’ 4-1 loss to Milwaukee in the fourth inning Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium because he was ejected or had exacerbated tensions between the teams.
The veteran right-hander had merely lost control of a pitch -- and an inning -- that sent the Dodgers to their third defeat in their last four series.
Counsell jogged to first base after being hit by Schmidt’s 80th and final pitch, forcing in a run with two out. Dodgers Manager Joe Torre summoned reliever James McDonald, who promptly surrendered Ryan Braun’s two-run double off the wall in left-center field that gave the Brewers a 4-1 lead.
There was little drama one night after Milwaukee slugger Prince Fielder became a YouTube sensation for his failed attempt to storm the Dodgers’ clubhouse so he could confront Guillermo Mota after the reliever had hit him with a pitch.
Manny Ramirez, who had been the catalyst for the plunking after being hit by a pitch earlier in Tuesday’s game, stepped to the plate as a pinch-hitter with two on and two out in the seventh inning Wednesday. But Ramirez grounded out to end the inning, his bat going into the stands after slipping out of his hands.
Schmidt (2-2) has made four starts for the Dodgers after a layoff of more than two years following shoulder surgery. Two have been good and two have been substandard.
His outing Wednesday fit into the latter category. Schmidt gave up five hits and four runs in 3 2/3 innings, his second start in which he failed to complete the fourth inning.
“Right now, I’m having more rusty times than I am being on,” Schmidt said. “I guess that’s the nature of it.”
No contacts required
Here’s a potentially scary thought for hitters: Hard-throwing reliever Hong-Chih Kuo isn’t seeing clearly.
“I’m not wearing my contact lenses this year,” Kuo said. “I just don’t feel very comfortable with them.”
Kuo explained that his lenses often dried up on him while he sat in the bullpen last season.
The Dodgers have made some small adjustments to accommodate the left-hander, who recently ended a three-month stint on the disabled list.
After Kuo pitched an inning in St. Louis on July 27, he asked catcher Russell Martin to do something to make his fingers more visible so he could better see the signs. Martin painted his nails white.
Backup catcher Brad Ausmus had to call time to put white tape around his fingers when Kuo was called to pitch in the eighth inning of a game three days later.
Pitcher Randy Wolf suggested a less troublesome solution.
“Lasik,” he said, pointing to his own eyes.
Orlando Hudson will head into free agency this fall in the wake of an All-Star season in which he re-established himself as one of the top second basemen in the National League.
Hudson has spoken glowingly of his first year in Los Angeles but was noncommittal when asked whether he would like to return to the Dodgers in 2010.
Hudson, who turns 32 in December, said he would decide where he spends next year “at the end of the season. . . . Right now I’m just trying to win.”
The Dodgers were able to sign Hudson to a one-year, $3.38-million deal after he had wrist injury that forced him to miss the final 45 games of last season.
But Hudson, who was hitting .292 with seven homers and 53 runs batted in before Wednesday’s game, has regained some of the value he lost because of the injury. He might have moved out of the Dodgers’ price range if he seeks a contract similar to the reported four-year, $29-million extension he turned down from Arizona before the 2008 season.
Times staff writer Dylan Hernandez contributed to this report.