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Dodgers fall at Houston, 3-1, for fourth loss in a row

Dodgers fall at Houston, 3-1, for fourth loss in a row
Houston's Jose Altuve tags out Jimmy Rollins during the Dodgers' 3-1 loss to the Astros on Saturday. (Bob Levey / Getty Images)

The clubhouse was nearly empty. The few players who were still there changed their clothes in silence.

In the middle of this despondent scene, Jimmy Rollins called for calm.

"The season's not over," Rollins said. "Don't make this interview sad, all right?"

No-hit the night before, the Dodgers scored only one run Saturday in a 3-1 loss to the Houston Astros that extended their losing streak to a season-long four games.

The four-game skid is their second this month.

If their pitching was responsible for the previous streak, their offense is to blame for the current one, as Rollins' fourth-inning single ended a hitless streak at 14 innings. Their latest failure to manufacture runs resulted in a defeat for Zack Greinke (13-3), who limited the Astros to three hits over seven innings.

Rollins found solace in the standings. With the second-place San Francisco Giants falling to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Dodgers maintained their 11/2-game lead in the National League West.

"That's really all that matters, the standings," Rollins said. "If you don't win and you get fortunate that the team behind you loses, no ground lost, you keep going forward."

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Rollins said there was no reason to be overly concerned.

"Every team goes through stretches where they're just not hitting, not pitching," Rollins said.

In this particular stretch, Rollins said, the Dodgers have been hurt by their reliance on home runs.

"Something we haven't found a way to do much of is manufacture runs," Rollins said. "We do it at times, but the way this offense is put together, we've pretty much been manufacturing runs by hitting the ball out of the ballpark. This isn't a bad thing. There are definitely times when we could do better getting guys over, getting guys in, as you call it, 'small ball,' even though there isn't anything small about it.

"At the same time, it's never a balance. You have one or the other, and, right now, we're heavy on the power-hitting side, as opposed to the smaller-style baseball."

The game Saturday started with left-hander Scott Kazmir (7-8) pitching three perfect innings for the Astros.

Rollins became the first Dodgers player to reach base when he line a ball to left-center field, but was thrown out trying to stretch the single into a double.

The Dodgers threatened Kazmir in the fifth inning, which they entered trailing, 2-0. With one out, Chase Utley appeared to triple into the right-field corner, only to have to return to second base after a video replay indicated he should have been credited with a ground-rule double instead. Utley reached third base when Enrique Hernandez flied out to the warning track in right field, after which Yasmani Grandal walked. Kazmir struck out Alex Guerrero to end the threat, but only after throwing 31 pitches in the inning.

Greinke threw only seven pitches in the scoreless bottom half of the inning, forcing Kazmir to quickly return to the mound.

"I thought that was our opportunity to maybe put two or three up on the board," Manager Don Mattingly said.

Rollins led off the inning with a double, the 500th of his career.

Rollins reached third base on a groundout by Yasiel Puig to the right side of the infield and scored on a single to center field by Justin Turner to close the gap to 2-1.

Turner's single was followed by one from Adrian Gonzalez. But Scott Van Slyke struck out and Utley grounded out to second base to end the inning.

The Astros relied on an all-or-nothing approach, but managed to turn their three hits into three runs.

Jose Altuve tripled in the first inning and scored on an error by Turner at third base. Luis Valbuena doubled the Astros' lead to 2-0 with a home run to right-center field.

Immediately after the Dodgers scored, Altuve responded with a home run that extended the Astros' advantage to 3-1.

The start of the game was delayed about 15 minutes because of a pregame ceremony honoring new Hall of Fame member Craig Biggio, but Greinke said he didn't think that affected him.

Up next

Left-hander Clayton Kershaw (10-6, 2.34 ERA) will face right-hander Lance McCullers (5-4, 3.17) and the Astros on Sunday at 11 a.m. PDT at Minute Maid Park. TV: SportsNet LA; Radio: 570, 1020.

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