Dodgers get swept into second place by Giants, 8-4

The Dodgers spent more than $40 million in the week leading up to the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline to improve their offense.

That highly paid lineup was shut down in the Dodgers’ most important series to date, which came to a merciful end Wednesday with a sweep-sealing 8-4 defeat by the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers scored only six runs and never led in the three-game set, which they entered with a half-game lead in the National League West. They now sit in second place, 21/2 games behind the Giants, and have lost utility man Jerry Hairston Jr. to a season-ending hip operation.

But as the Dodgers faced this reality, the remote possibility of them adding yet another high-profile offensive reinforcement emerged. First baseman Adrian Gonzalez was placed on trade waivers by the Boston Red Sox, according to Comcast SportsNet New England.

The Dodgers inquired on Gonzalez and pitcher Josh Beckett leading up to the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, said people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the talks.

Gonzalez is a nine-time All-Star but has become a source of controversy in Boston, as he was reportedly one of the players who complained to Red Sox ownership about Manager Bobby Valentine.

Gonzalez has a limited no-trade clause in his contract but can’t block a move to the Dodgers. He has six years and $127 million remaining on deal after this year.

If the Dodgers’ pursuit of the Philadelphia Phillies’ Cliff Lee earlier this month was any indication, finances shouldn’t be an obstacle. Lee had about $95 million remaining on his contract but when he was placed on waivers by the Phillies, the Dodgers claimed him.

But the Lee episode also illustrated the difficulties of acquiring a high-caliber player in August. The Dodgers were awarded the claim on Lee and the Phillies could have let them take him and the remainder of his contract. Or they could have traded him to the Dodgers. The Phillies opted to keep him instead.

One person familiar with the Dodgers’ thinking said Wednesday that the team isn’t expecting the Red Sox to make Gonzalez available.

Speaking in general terms and not of Gonzalez specifically, Dodgers Chairman Mark Walter said, “We are trying to add players. That doesn’t mean we will be able to.”

Gonzalez is batting .301 with 15 home runs and 85 runs batted in. He would mark a significant upgrade at first base for the Dodgers, who have the ineffective duo of James Loney and Juan Rivera splitting time at the position.

The Dodgers’ lack of offensive production against the Giants was largely a function of the pitching they faced.

Monday, they saw Madison Bumgarner. Tuesday, they faced Tim Lincecum. In the series finale Wednesday, they went against All-Star Matt Cain.

Cain was dominant, improving to 13-5 by limiting the Dodgers to one run and seven hits over seven innings.

When Cain was replaced in the bottom of the eighth inning, the Giants were ahead, 8-1.

Cain’s counterpart, Chris Capuano, fell behind early. The Giants scored three runs against Capuano in the first inning, including two on a home run by Joaquin Arias.

Arias drove in another run in the Giants’ three-run sixth inning, which opened the gap to 6-0.

Capuano was charged with six runs and six hits in five-plus innings.

About the only positive development for the Dodgers was Rubby De La Rosa’s return to the mound. De La Rosa appeared as a reliever in the seventh inning and pitched in his first major league game since he underwent reconstructive elbow surgery less than 13 months ago.

De La Rosa recorded two outs, walked two and was charged with two runs, but touched 96 mph on the stadium radar gun.

The Dodgers will face the Giants six more times this season. They will visit San Francisco for three games from Sept. 7-9. They will play host to their division rivals in their final series of the season, from Oct. 1-3.

“We’re not giving up,” Manager Don Mattingly said. “Obviously, it’s painful to go through this. There’s nothing for us to do now. We got an off day tomorrow.

“The season for us starts Friday.”