The Los Angeles Dodgers have endured several tough losses during a season-high six-game skid, but their latest defeat might have been their most disappointing.
The scuffling Dodgers try to bounce back and avoid being swept in a season series to the Los Angeles Angels for the first time in Thursday night’s Freeway Series finale in Anaheim.
The Dodgers (38-33) were atop the NL West last Wednesday, but their recent woes have dropped them into a third-place tie with Colorado, four games back of division-leading San Diego.
The Dodgers, in the midst of their longest losing streak since dropping eight straight from Aug. 22-29, 2008, appeared to have a decent chance of ending the slide Wednesday, but fell 2-1 when Russell Martin(notes) was tagged out at second base for the game’s final out an instant before Reed Johnson(notes) would have crossed the plate with the tying run.
Pinch-hitter Jamey Carroll’s(notes) two-out single off Angels closer Brian Fuentes(notes) should have scored Johnson easily from second, but left fielder Juan Rivera(notes) alertly threw back to second base to double up Martin, who had been on first.
“Everybody is high-fiving in the dugout, and the next thing you know, our heads are down,” Martin said. “Baserunning mistakes don’t get much worse than making the last out of game like that at second base.”
It marked the Dodgers’ ninth straight interleague defeat and fifth in a row to the Angels (41-33), who are a major league-best 18-6 since May 29 and 3 1/2 games behind AL West-leading Texas.
Offensive woes have plagued the Dodgers, as they’ve plated 15 runs while batting .164 with runners in scoring position during their skid. Breaking out of this funk against Scott Kazmir(notes) (7-5, 5.08 ERA) likely won’t be easy.
Kazmir has posted a 2.35 ERA in winning his four starts this month, yielding two runs or fewer in each outing. This stretch includes a 4-2 victory over the Dodgers on June 12, when the left-hander allowed two runs, three hits and four walks in five innings.
In Friday’s 7-6 win over the Chicago Cubs, Kazmir gave up two runs and five hits in six innings.
“Another step in the right direction,” he told the Angels’ official website.
Kazmir, who hasn’t won five consecutive starts since reeling off a career-best six straight from May 10-June 6, 2008, while with Tampa Bay, has limited Manny Ramirez(notes) to a .159 batting average with 14 strikeouts in 44 at-bats.
Haeger (0-4, 8.53) missed most of May while on the DL with plantar fasciitis in his right foot, and hasn’t pitched since June 7 because of a sprained right toe. The right-hander recorded a 13.14 ERA in losing his last four starts for Los Angeles, but is coming off an encouraging rehab start for Triple-A Albuquerque, throwing six scoreless innings Sunday.
“We’ll find out about him coming off a good outing,” Joe Torre told the Dodgers’ official website. “Confidence-wise and physically, we feel the foot is not an issue. He got the knuckleball over in his last start. We’re hoping, so we’ll see.”
Haeger’s only start against the Angels came in his major league debut May 10, 2006, when he yielded six runs, five hits and a career-worst six walks in 4 1-3 innings of 12-5 loss for the Chicago White Sox.