The Los Angeles Dodgers finally seemed to be putting everything together during their recent hot streak. That certainly hasn’t been the case lately.
After a particularly disheartening defeat, the Dodgers look to snap their four-game skid on Tuesday night when they open a three-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park.
Los Angeles (19-18) won 10 of 11 games from April 25-May 6, averaging 7.5 runs, batting .315 and posting a 3.32 ERA in that stretch. In their last four games, however, the Dodgers have gone winless with seven total runs, a .206 average and a 7.75 ERA.
The club’s most recent defeat may have been the most frustrating. Los Angeles starter Hiroki Kuroda took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before Houston broke through for seven hits and six runs in the eighth inning and pulled out an 8-5 victory Sunday.
“It’s tough,” catcher Russell Martin said. “A guy goes six innings and doesn’t give up any hits, and you take him out after one hit and the bullpen gives it up for him. Everyone feels bad. You want to win every game you can when a guy throws his heart out like that.”
Dodgers manager Joe Torre admits it was a tough loss, but isn’t worried about his team’s ability to get past it.
“In a season you certainly have to deal with a lot of potholes along the way and this is one of them,” Torre told the Dodgers’ official Web site.
Much like the team as a whole, Los Angeles starter Brad Penny (5-3, 4.79 ERA) has seen a win streak come to a screeching halt. The right-hander posted a 2.66 ERA during a four-start win streak from April 16-May 2, but was tagged for a career-high 10 runs in 4 2-3 innings of a 12-1 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday.
“Everything that could go wrong, went wrong today,” the nine-year veteran said. “Today I didn’t give the team a chance.”
Penny hopes to bounce back as he meets the Brewers, against whom he’s 3-2 with a 4.74 ERA in seven career starts.
The Dodgers could have trouble getting back on track with Rafael Furcal sidelined. The switch-hitting shortstop was expected to return soon from a strained lower back that has kept him out of five games already. However, Furcal, the third-leading hitter in the majors with a .366 average, admitted Sunday he was worried about his back, saying the pain was the same he felt last September when he had to sit out 12 games. He was placed on the disabled list Monday, retroactive to May 6, making him eligible to return May 21.
The Brewers (19-19) hope to take advantage of Furcal’s absence as they try to pull back over .500 with their fourth win in five games. Reigning NL Rookie of the Year Ryan Braun homered twice for the second consecutive game as Milwaukee beat St. Louis 8-3 on Monday night.
“I feel the game slow down a little bit,” said Braun, who’s 9-for-16 (.563) with six extra-base hits, six runs scored and no strikeouts in his last four games. “I feel like I see pitches longer - and bigger.”
Braun hopes to continue his hot streak in support of Milwaukee starter Carlos Villanueva (1-4, 6.46), who’s coming off his worst outing of the year. The right-hander was reached for seven runs in five innings of a 7-2 loss at Florida on Thursday. He has given up three runs in two innings spanning two career relief appearances against the Dodgers.
These teams split their six-game season series last year, each winning two of three at home.