LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers didn't exactly bring their 'A' games in their most meaningful series so far.
The San Francisco Giants beat them 8-4 Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium to complete the three-game sweep and grab a 2 1/2-game lead in the NL West. The Dodgers, who pulled a similar trick on the Giants up north last month, were outscored 14-6 in the three games, their top hitters all falling into slumps.
The Dodgers have lost 12 of their past 17 home games.
Rubby Dub-Dub. Rubby De La Rosa returned after missing just over a year following elbow ligament-replacement surgery and did just fine. His anatomy appeared to remain intact and his velocity, mid-90s, was just a tick off last year's. Jamey Wright jogged in and allowed the two guys De La Rosa walked to score, but it was otherwise a fairly encouraging step forward for the 23-year-old. De La Rosa could give the Dodgers another crucial hard thrower in the bullpen.
Containment tactic. The Dodgers pitchers did not -- repeat not -- allow part-time, light-hitting shortstop Joaquin Arias to hit for the cycle or break any RBI records. They held Arias to 3-for-4 with two doubles, a home run and five RBIs. Whew.
Pick an Ellis, any Ellis. It's a bit baffling that A.J. Ellis hits eighth so frequently considering he's one of the Dodgers' best on-base guys and he has a better batting average than every regular other than Matt Kemp. While the rest of the lineup was inert, the catcher had a single, a double and hit a deep drive to the wall in right-center that was caught. Mark Ellis also had two hits and also has the same last name.
Early damage. It's not that the Dodgers pitched poorly in this series, but they were playing from behind in all three games because their pitchers couldn't get out of the first inning with the 0-0 tie intact. For teams that rely on winning close games, that's a bad formula. Chris Capuano gave up three first-inning runs, including Arias' third home run of 2012. Capuano steadied himself for a while, but unraveled in the sixth.
Missing spark. The slumps of Kemp and Andre Ethier may have been the primary culprits in this rough offensive series, but Shane Victorino wasn't exactly a dynamic force atop the lineup. Victorino had two hits in 13 at-bats and those were the only times he got on base. The first two games of the series were low scoring and the Dodgers could have used Victorino's disruptiveness on the bases, but it never emerged because he couldn't get on.
Bereft of bench. Is there another team in the history of baseball that would have used a sub-.190 hitter to pinch-hit in all three games of a big series? That would take too much time to research, but the fact that Juan Uribe appeared in all three sums up the Dodgers' bench. It's about as thin as you can get. Asked if there could be help in the waiver trade market or at Triple-A, Don Mattingly hemmed and hawed for a while but basically said, "No."