The good-pitch, no-hit Dodgers lived up to the wrong half of their billing Thursday night.
Along the way, they added an unexpected descriptor for a team that had played mostly flawless defense through the season’s first two weeks:
Can’t field or throw.
The Dodgers committed two errors and Hiroki Kuroda threw a career-high three wild pitches in a 9-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals at Dodger Stadium.
It was an improbable development for a team that had committed only five errors in its first 12 games, tying for the second-fewest miscues in the major leagues.
Combine that with an off night by Kuroda, who allowed six runs in five innings, and it was little wonder the Dodgers (6-7) dropped below .500 for the first time this season after losing for the fourth time in five games.
“I really don’t feel like we’re playing badly,” Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said. “The effort that we’re getting and the way guys are playing, we’ll accept that. We won’t accept the results.”
The evening took on a somber tone even before the first pitch. The Dodgers announced enhanced security measures before the game after the severe beating of a fan wearing a San Francisco Giants jersey during the last homestand. There will be improved lighting in the parking lot and an increased police presence in and around the stadium.
On the field, it was a mostly forgettable affair for the Dodgers.
Their most egregious blunder came when reliever Lance Cormier fielded a comebacker off the bat of Albert Pujols in the seventh inning. Cormier whirled and fired the ball toward second baseman Juan Uribe in an attempt to start a double play.
Instead, the ball sailed into center field and the Cardinals had runners on second and third base. Matt Holliday then drove in both runners with a double to right-center field, part of a 16-hit attack against Kuroda (2-1) and three relievers.
It wasn’t the first time the Dodgers had given the Cardinals an opening.
A ball bounced off third baseman Casey Blake in the fourth inning, contributing to another run. And Kuroda threw a pair of wild pitches in the fifth, the second errant throw allowing Lance Berkman to trot home from third base.
Kuroda dismissed Mattingly’s notion that he wasn’t as sharp as usual because he was still fatigued from having pitched 82/3 innings in his last outing, Saturday against San Diego. The right-hander said he simply lost his rhythm and had trouble finding the right pitches.
“It was a learning experience,” he said through an interpreter, “and hopefully I’ll get them next time.”
The Dodgers had 11 hits, few of them timely.
Matt Kemp homered with the bases empty in the ninth inning and Andre Ethier stretched his hitting streak to 11 games with a first-inning single as part of a promising span in which four of the first five Dodgers batters reached base.
But after Kemp provided a 1-0 lead by driving in Jamey Carroll with a single to center and Uribe walked to load the bases with one out, things quickly went awry.
James Loney’s slump only deepened when he flew out to shallow left field and Jamie Hoffmann, in the lineup with Marcus Thames sidelined by an injured quadriceps, lined out to third baseman Daniel Descalso.
And so the Dodgers’ first game against a team outside the National League West was one they can only hope doesn’t leave them with lasting labels for the rest of this eight-game homestand and beyond.