Pitchers are dealing with lack of support

The starting pitchers are giving up only a handful of runs. The relievers aren't giving up practically any.

And still, it hasn't always added up to a Dodgers victory.

The Dodgers have lost three of their last eight games despite the fact that their starting pitchers have posted a 2.13 earned-run average over that span and their relievers have pitched 10 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings.

The problem? The Dodgers have scored only one or two runs in five of those games, forcing their pitchers to be practically perfect.

"We are putting a lot of pressure on our starters when we aren't scoring runs," Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said Sunday following a 3-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs at Dodger Stadium. "It just makes it a little bit tougher because every single inning you try to be very careful."

Chad Billingsley (12-7) emerged as the latest Dodgers starter to lose despite logging a quality outing in which he gave up three runs in six innings.

Billingsley said he tries not to think about the offense when he's pitching.

"It's been off and on," Billingsley said. "I have to go out there and try to win a ballgame. I just want to concentrate on what I'm doing."


See you in the eighth?

Was Torre's eighth-inning deployment of closer Jonathan Broxton really just a one-time maneuver?

The manager said he might use Broxton again in that situation "depending on the club," explaining he did it against the Cubs on Saturday because Broxton had struck out two of the three batters he was scheduled to face the previous day.

"If it presents itself in a certain situation," Torre said, "I think I would do that again."


Limited call-ups

Among the players the Dodgers intend to call up when rosters expand Sept. 1 are "a couple of pitchers," a third catcher and another position player, Torre said.

With the minor league playoffs getting ready to start, the players could arrive in waves depending on when their respective seasons end. Torre said the Dodgers would restrict the number of call-ups to avoid a logjam.

"You don't want to get to the point where you bring so many people up and it gets crowded," Torre said. "Especially when you're in the hunt for something."


Hitting the road

Torre said Hiroki Kuroda, recovering from the concussion he suffered last weekend when he was hit in the head by a line drive, would probably accompany the team this week on its trip to Colorado and Cincinnati.

Kuroda has resumed throwing on flat ground and is expected to resume throwing off a mound this week. He is eligible to be activated from the disabled list a week from today.


Short hops

Torre gave James Loney the day off after the first baseman had to go home Saturday because of flu-like symptoms. Loney returned to Dodger Stadium on Sunday but was held out as a precaution. Mark Loretta started at first base. . . . Torre had hoped to give second baseman Orlando Hudson the day off before using him as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning. Hudson grounded into an inning-ending double play. . . . Billingsley's season-high streak of five consecutive starts and 29 1/3 innings without allowing a homer ended in the second inning when Jake Fox hit a solo shot. . . . The Dodgers are 1-7 in their last eight Sunday home games.



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