At 3:30 p.m. Friday, the Dodgers ushered the media out of their clubhouse and closed the doors. After four consecutive losses, all marred by sloppiness, Manager Dave Roberts sought to reinforce the importance of the game’s fundamentals. He made the group laugh. He made the group applaud.
The doors opened a few minutes later.
And nothing changed.
A team meeting cannot be considered a cure-all, and Friday’s 5-1 loss to San Diego served as proof. The offense was quieted by a career minor leaguer, wasting a stellar outing by Alex Wood. The rickety bullpen ignited at the hand of Chris Hatcher, the group’s foremost arsonist this April. Hatcher decided the outcome when he surrendered a three-run homer to former Dodger Matt Kemp to break a tie in the eighth.
“There’s a lot of empty at-bats, empty swings,” Roberts said. “When you’re not scoring runs, it’s hard to win baseball games.”
With their fifth straight loss, the Dodgers (12-12) faded back to a .500 record for the first time since opening day. They could not solve Padres starter Cesar Vargas, who debuted this season in double A and had pitched on four times above that level. He threw 51/3 scoreless innings.
“I think most of it’s mental,” Roberts said. “You can tell them to relax and not chase hits, and have good at-bats. But they’re trying to do a little too much right now.”
Wood kept the Dodgers in it, allowing a run and five hits in seven innings. He struck out nine. A solo home run by Yasmani Grandal off of reliever Brad Hand in the sixth removed Wood from the hook of a hard-luck loss.
The Dodgers skidded into Friday. The offense had managed only eight runs in 36 innings during the sweep by the Marlins.
If only his teammates could do the same.
“We’ve just got to execute,” Grandal said. “A couple things didn’t go our way.”
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