Dodgers’ trouble arrives late
At least some things remained the same.
Manny Ramirez still can hit the kind of mistake that Josh Geer lobbed his way.
And Randy Wolf still can’t get a decision.
Ramirez hit his first post-suspension home run and Wolf tossed six unrewarded innings of one-run ball, but everything else seemed to be out of whack for the Dodgers, who hit the midpoint of their season with a 7-4 loss to the San Diego Padres on Saturday at Petco Park.
“These are our games,” Dodgers Manager Joe Torre said of the contest that his team led, 2-1, through 6 1/2 innings.
The Dodgers didn’t compile baseball’s best record by doing what they did on this day.
Their bullpen had a rare meltdown, as setup men Ronald Belisario and Ramon Troncoso were charged with a combined six runs over 1 2/3 nightmarish innings that turned their one-run lead into a four-run deficit.
Belisario, who was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence last week, has already pitched 48 innings. He threw 57 last year and that was in the minors.
Troncoso has pitched 53. He logged 68 2/3 innings between triple A and the majors last season.
Asked if the increase in their workloads could hurt them in the latter stages of the season, Torre sounded unsure.
“I think we’re all going to find out and see,” he said.
What the manager said he was more certain of was that Ramirez, who returned Friday from a 50-game ban for violating baseball’s drug policy, would re-establish himself as one of the game’s top hitters.
Torre said that Ramirez belonged in a class of hitters that included the likes of Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, Frank Robinson and Reggie Jackson.
“That upper echelon of All-Star every year,” Torre said. “I think Manny is in that group. . . . To me, these people are legitimate.”
Padres starter Geer found out about that in the first inning, when he left a changeup high in the zone.
“When I leave one up like that, usually I can cuss at it,” Geer said. “But, oh man, I didn’t have time.”
The ball rocketed into the seats over the left-field wall, marking Ramirez’s first home run in exactly two months. The home run, which put the Dodgers ahead, 1-0, was the 534th of his career, tying him with Jimmie Foxx for 16th on baseball’s all-time list.
In the fourth, Ramirez was barely thrown out at first on a sharply hit grounder to short, the call close enough to warrant an animated protest on his part. He ripped off his helmet and screamed at first base umpire Sam Holbrook until coach Mariano Duncan convinced him to retreat to the dugout.
He grounded out again in the sixth with two out, men on the corners and the score tied, 1-1, Geer getting him on a changeup. With that, Ramirez left the game and was replaced by Juan Pierre.
Ramirez didn’t speak to reporters after the game, exiting the clubhouse through a back door.
The game took an ugly turn for the Dodgers in the seventh when Belisario gave up three hits, walked a batter and plunked another, the damage totaling three runs that put the Padres ahead by a 4-2 margin.
Troncoso was failed not by the command issues that plagued Belisario but by the usually steady defense behind him.
Second baseman Juan Castro made an error fielding a potential double-play grounder in the eighth, putting men on first and second with one out.
Later in the inning, Casey Blake barehanded Everth Cabrera’s soft grounder, but his throw sailed wide of first baseman James Loney. Cabrera was given a hit and Blake an error on the throw, with two runs scoring and Cabrera reaching third, from where he scored on a single by David Eckstein to increase the Padres’ lead to 7-3.