Bullpen still is a weak link

Different names, same problem.

Activated from the disabled list Thursday, Hong-Chih Kuo was available for the first time this season.

Ronald Belisario was available for only the second time.

But the two star relievers couldn’t prevent the kind of middle-inning meltdown that has become commonplace for the Dodgers, who fell, 8-5, to the Cincinnati Reds in the rubber match of a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.


“Last year our strength was our bullpen, and right now it’s not organized,” Manager Joe Torre said.

Torre said he was encouraged by the form of Kuo, who inherited a 5-4 lead to start the bottom of the seventh. He got Chris Dickerson to ground out to second on a bunt but fell as he pursued the ball, prompting a brief meeting on the mound with trainer Stan Conte.

Kuo remained in the game and gave up a chopper to Orlando Cabrera that barely went over his outstretched glove and walked Joey Votto. Kuo’s outing was over.

The sinkerball-throwing Belisario said he left too many pitches up, which resulted in a two-run double by Scott Rolen that inning. Belisario, who was five weeks late to spring training and was added to the active roster Wednesday, gave up two more runs.


By the end of the inning, the Dodgers were down, 8-5.

Anderson homers

Garret Anderson was in line to be the hero after hitting his first home run as a Dodger, a pinch-hit two-run blast that put his team ahead, 5-4.

“It feels good to do your part,” Anderson said.


An everyday player during his previous 15 seasons in the majors, Anderson has had to adjust to being a pinch-hitter.

He said he has settled on a routine, anticipating when he’ll be called upon so that he can get loose in the batting cage.

“It hasn’t been that hard,” he said. “I watch the game so I have an idea when I’ll come up before they even say anything.”

Weaver on disabled list


Jeff Weaver said he was “a little bit” surprised that he went on the 15-day disabled list with a back injury that he described as minor.

“They didn’t want to push the issue, I guess,” Weaver said. “Kuo’s coming back at the same time, so it seemed logical.”

Weaver felt tightness in his back Wednesday when he was making his ninth appearance of the season but said immediately afterward that he thought he would be ready to pitch again in a couple of days. He expressed similar thoughts after playing catch Thursday.

“Weaver may not need the time, but I told him I don’t want him to be thinking it’s going to be three or four days and feel obligated” to pitch, Torre said.


Short hops

Matt Kemp extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the first inning. ... Right-hander Russ Ortiz, who was designated for assignment Sunday, elected to become a free agent.