Dodgers leave too many stranded in 5-0 loss to Padres

The Dodgers were held in check by a pitcher with an earned-run average of more than five. Then they were brought to their knees by a chopper to third.

The ball hit by Chris Denorfia in the ninth inning bounced over the outstretched glove of third baseman Casey Blake, rolled down the foul line, skipped past the rolled-up tarp along the wall and evaded the grasp of left fielder Scott Podsednik.

Denorfia rounded first, second and third. He easily beat the ball to home plate.

The Dodgers’ two-game winning streak was over, halted by a 5-0 defeat to the first-place San Diego Padres.

“That play made a big impact in the ninth inning, when we were down five instead of being down three,” Blake said. “It was a weird play.”

But that wasn’t the only oddity in the game, as All-Star right fielder Andre Ethier played first base for the first time in his career, moving there as part of a ninth-inning double-switch.

Oh, well. That was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it?

The Dodgers who played Thursday weren’t the same Dodgers who scored nine runs the previous night, reverting to the limp-hitting form that sent them tumbling down the standings over the last three weeks.

A chance to take a four-game set from the division-leading Padres and close their lead in the National League West ended with the Dodgers getting a series split.

They fell eight games back of the Padres and remained six behind the wild-card-leading San Francisco Giants.

The Dodgers had nine hits, but were 0 for 8 with men in scoring position. They left nine men on base.

“That’s what it comes down to,” Manager Joe Torre said. “We had guys in scoring position, especially late.”

They have been held to two or fewer runs in 14 of the 21 games they have played since the All-Star break.

While Torre was optimistic that sidelined shortstop Rafael Furcal could be back in the lineup by the time the Dodgers open a three-game series in Philadelphia on Tuesday, the other injury reports weren’t particularly encouraging.

Torre ruled out Russell Martin for the remainder of the year, reasoning that after the necessary three weeks he will spend on crutches, the season will already be in the last month.

As for Manny Ramirez, Torre said, “He doesn’t seem close.”

Ramirez is said to be in Arizona working out at the Dodgers’ spring training complex and receiving treatment for his strained calf at the Athletes’ Performance Institute.

The Dodgers certainly appeared to have a pitching match that favored them Thursday, as they had Chad Billingsley going against Kevin Correia.

Billingsley went into the game with a scoreless streak of 211/3 innings.

Correia had an earned-run average of 5.06.

But the game was essentially over after Billingsley was charged with three runs in a two-hit, two-walk fourth inning.

The Dodgers had men on the corners in the fourth inning, but James Loney and Matt Kemp flied out.

They had men on the corners again in this sixth inning, this time with two outs, and Loney flied out again, this time to center.

They had two on with one out in the seventh inning. A.J. Ellis grounded into a double play.

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