Dodgers’ defense shows up while offense disappears

— Manager Joe Torre had to laugh.

The Dodgers pitched well. They didn’t make any errors.

“And we lost, 1-0,” he said.

The Dodgers dropped two of three games to the Washington Nationals, the last by a 1-0 margin on Sunday at Nationals Park, in the exact opposite way they dropped two of three in a series of high-scoring, error-filled contests in Cincinnati earlier in the week.

The Dodgers’ offense suddenly vanished over the weekend, scoring five runs over 31 total innings in Washington, including the 13 innings they played in a 4-3 win on Saturday.

“Teams go through good periods and bad periods,” Rafael Furcal said. “We’re going through a bad one right now.”

Casey Blake lamented the lost opportunities, particularly the one they had in the first inning, when they loaded the bases with one out against Nationals starter Scott Olsen. Blake struck out and Ronnie Belliard flew out to center.

The Dodgers had a chance to score in the ninth inning, which James Loney led off with a double against Nationals closer Matt Capps. Blake, Belliard and Garret Anderson failed to drive him in.

“We let him off the hook,” Blake said of Olsen. “A lot of times you do that to a pitcher and they’re going to stick around.”

Olsen held the Dodgers to six hits over seven shutout innings.

Asked which of Olsen’s pitches troubled the Dodgers, Blake replied, “He throws this little changeup. Like 85 mph. It’s not a typical left-handed changeup or a typical changeup. It’s almost like a [batting practice] fastball that dives a little bit.”

Padilla’s replacement?

Taking the place of sidelined opening-day starter Vicente Padilla in the rotation will be someone from the Dodgers’ triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque.

Padilla was scheduled to pitch in New York on Tuesday, but knuckleballer Charlie Haeger can be moved up a day, meaning the vacancy will likely be for Wednesday. By postponing the arrival of the newest member of the rotation, the Dodgers would be able to keep an extra reliever for another day.

Top prospect Josh Lindblom pitched on Sunday — and not particularly well — which rules him out.

Candidates include Josh Towers, James McDonald and Scott Elbert. If the Dodgers elect to call up Towers, they would have to clear a spot on a 40-man roster, but could do so by placing either catcher Brad Ausmus or reliever Cory Wade on the 60-day disabled list.

Ethier sits

With the Dodgers facing a left-hander in Olsen, Torre opted to rest Andre Ethier, who continues to receive treatment on his bothersome left ankle. Including his double-play groundout in his seventh-inning pinch-hit at-bat on Sunday, Ethier is two for his last 13 but is still hitting .356.

Link recalled

Reliever Jon Link, who was sent down to Albuquerque on Thursday, was called up to replace Padilla on the active roster. Link grew up in nearby Chantilly, Va., and had 100 family members and friends at Nationals Park supporting him.

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