Chad Billingsley struggled with his control constantly falling behind hitters, and when he had to throw a strike Rockies batters took advantage, and handed the Dodgers their second straight loss 7-5. Back to back doubles by Seth Smith and Carlos Gonzalez gave the Rockies an early 1-0 lead in the 1st inning. After getting Troy Tulowitzki to pop out, Bills looked to have minimized the damage. However, after walking Todd Helton on 4 straight pitches, Jose Lopez for the second day hurt the Dodgers with a 2 out RBI single.
The Dodgers responded behind a solo homer by James Loney in the 2nd, and took a 4-2 lead in the 3rd after a Rod Barajas homer, a walk by Rafael Furcal, an RBI triple by Casey Blake and an RBI single by Andre Ethier. The lead would be shortlived. Billingsley walked Carlos Gonzalez to lead off the 3rd, and following a Tulowitzki single, once again fell behind Helton 3 balls and 1 strike. He had to challenge him and Helton made him pay by hitting a 3 run homer off the top of the right field scoreboard.
The Rockies would never look back. The added 2 more runs on a Tulo homer off of Blake Hawksworth in the 4th. The Dodgers got one back when Matt Kemp led off the 8th with a double, moved to 3rd on a Loney ground out and scored on a Juan Uribe grounder.
Then came the 9th inning and perhaps Dodgers manager Don Mattingly showed his inexperience. Rod Barajas led off the inning with a single down the left field line, a hit that would have been a double for almost any other Dodger on the team. Instead of lifting Barajas for a pinch runner, like Tony Gwynn Jr., and with 2 catchers still on the bench Mattingly for some reason left Barajas on the bases.
Jamey Carroll ripped a sure double down the left-field line, but with the slow footed Barajas in front of him the Dodgers had runners on first and second, rather than 1st and third, and with no outs Barajas still stood at second. Rafael Furcal ripped a ball to the left field wall that Carlos Gonzalez made a great catch on, and instead of both runners advancing, Barajas still stood on second. The Dodgers would end the inning with a whimper as pinch-hitter Hector Gimenez struck out on a ball in the dirt, and 4 pitches later Andre Ethier did the same.
The team that supposedly had been working on the little things, focusing on the fundamentals that the prior manager seemingly ignored, failed to do exactly what they preached they had focused on all spring. I guess we’ll get an explanation why the Dodgers didn’t pinch run for the slowest guy on the team with the game on the line. We might even get an explanation why the Dodgers best bunter didn’t move runners to second and third with 1 out in the 9th, in retrospect they didn’t need to as Furcal’s fly out would have moved up both runners, except for the fact that Rod Barajas was the lead runner.
But what we do know is on a day when the Dodgers offense actually produced, it was poor starting pitching and their inability to do the little things that now has them at 3-3 as they head to San Diego for a 3 game series beginning Friday. Hopefully Rod Barajas makes the trip, but for all we know he is still stranded at second base.