Dodgers can't close the rally

Some players ate at the small tables in the middle of the clubhouse. Others sat in front of their lockers and started into space.

The room was silent.


But this defeat was different from the others, according to Joe Torre.

"They were fighting tonight," he said.

The way the Dodgers have played in recent weeks, that was enough for Torre, who said that their three-run ninth inning in a 6-5 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Friday night could lead to something more in the days to come.

"Tonight, we were really aggressive right to the end," Torre said. "We had great at-bats. We were sticking our noses out tonight."

When asked about how All-Star closer Brian Wilson was unavailable in the ninth inning, Torre was quick to point out that Jonathan Sanchez was one of the four pitchers the Giants used to close out the game.

"They didn't bring anybody cheap in there," Torre said.

Ideas similar to Torre's were later expressed in various parts of the clubhouse.

The Dodgers were held to three hits by the San Diego Padres a day earlier. They had been held to two or fewer runs in 10 of their previous 14 games.

"I thought we were disciplined today, especially later in the game when it counted the most," Russell Martin said.

Martin started the ninth-inning charge with a single to right-center off Sergio Romo. Jamey Carroll grounded into a forceout, then scored when newcomer Scott Podsednik tripled to center.

Such a sequence of events typically would result in Wilson's entrance.

But unknown by the Dodgers, Wilson had experienced back spasms in an early-afternoon workout. (He is listed as day to day and will be reevaluated Saturday.)

"You definitely have to take advantage of that situation," Martin said.

So instead of Wilson, Giants Manager Bruce Bochy called on Denny Bautista, who walked Rafael Furcal and was immediately pulled.

In came Sanchez.

With Ethier batting, Sanchez threw a wild pitch, allowing Podsednik to score. The Dodgers suddenly were down by only 6-4.

Sanchez struck out Ethier but hit James Loney.

Bochy made another pitching change, this time sending in Chris Ray.

Matt Kemp singled to center to drive in Furcal and move Loney to third. But Casey Blake ended the game by grounding into a forceout.

"We definitely have a chance to turn things around," Kemp said.

Time isn't on their side.

A team that won 23 of its first 29 games in its division, the Dodgers have dropped five of their last seven in the NL West.

With only 55 games remaining, the Dodgers are seven games back of the division-leading Padres. They trail the Giants by 41/2 games in the wild-card race.

"Our playoffs are going to have to start a little earlier if we're going to get there," Martin said.

With Tim Lincecum on the mound, Martin drove in the first run of the game with a second-inning single.

Juan Uribe homered in the bottom half of the inning to move the Giants to level ground, but Furcal responded with a long ball on his own that put the Dodgers back on top, 2-1. For Furcal, the solo home run ended a 0-for-23 skid.

But Aubrey Huff's two-run double in the bottom of the third gave the Giants a lead they wouldn't lose, even without their closer.

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