Given their play since the startling news of Manny Ramirez’s(notes) suspension in the midst of an 11-game homestand, perhaps the best thing for the Los Angeles Dodgers is to get away from southern California for a few days.
The memories of the first stop on their six-game road trip, though, aren’t likely to be any more agreeable.
The suddenly struggling Dodgers will face the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night for the first time since their loss in last fall’s NL Championship Series, and they’ll open this three-game set trying to end a six-game skid at Citizens Bank Park.
Los Angeles (22-11) set a modern major league record with 13 consecutive home wins to start 2009, but it was the news that came out the morning after the record-setting victory that sent shock waves around the majors.
Ramirez, who hit .410 after coming to the Dodgers in a trade last July, was suspended for 50 games Thursday for failing a drug test.
Even with Ramirez out of the lineup, Los Angeles has scored 23 runs in its last four games. But they’ve lost three times, including the decisive finale to San Francisco on Sunday, 7-5 in 13 innings.
“We battled,” manager Joe Torre told the Dodgers’ official Web site. “This game is all about personality and this ballclub wants to win badly. But unfortunately you have to fight your way back from disappointment.”
That’s been the result of Los Angeles’ most recent meetings with the Phillies (15-14), and those have been with Ramirez available. The Dodgers scored five runs during a four-game sweep in Philadelphia from Aug. 22-25, then the Phillies needed only five games to dispatch Los Angeles in the NLCS before winning their first World Series in 28 years.
Clayton Kershaw(notes) (1-2, 4.91 ERA) will try to end the Dodgers’ six-game slide - including two NLCS losses - in Philadelphia. The left-hander has had two effective starts after two poor ones, and he helped carry Los Angeles to 13-0 at home Wednesday, allowing a run and four hits in five innings in a 10-3 victory over Washington.
Kershaw was 0-1 with an 8.10 ERA in two regular-season starts against the Phillies last season, and gave up a run in two innings in the postseason.
Park did just about everything he could for the Phillies his last time out, limiting the New York Mets to one hit over six innings Wednesday while striking out five. Philadelphia’s offense, though, couldn’t solve Johan Santana(notes) and an unearned run in the seventh was the difference in the Mets’ 1-0 win.
“(Park) pitched a heck of a game,” manager Charlie Manuel told the Phillies’ official Web site. “He was aggressive. He threw strikes. When he got behind, he came back and went right at the hitters. He had a good tempo and rhythm going.”
Philadelphia has lost three of four since then as well, including the final two games of its weekend home series against Atlanta. Jimmy Rollins(notes), Shane Victorino(notes) and Chase Utley(notes) were a combined 0 for 13 at the top of the order in Sunday’s 4-2 loss.
The Phillies fell to 0-10 when scoring three runs or less.
“We definitely have to play better,” Manuel said. “We have to be more consistent. We haven’t put it together like we want to.”
Victorino, who had a triple and four RBIs in the Phillies’ Game 2 NLCS win over the Dodgers, is hitless in his last 13 at-bats. The Phillies are 1-7 when Victorino doesn’t collect a hit.