Dealing with the dog days (and nights)

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers will wake up Wednesday morning to one of the commonplace nuisances of a baseball season.

After playing for nearly 3½ hours Tuesday night -- probably not getting into their beds until well after midnight -- they have to be on the field and alert by 12:10 p.m. for the rare midweek day game at Dodger Stadium.

Just in the previous week, the Dodgers had start times of 9:40 a.m., 1 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. -- all Pacific Time -- though they’ve flown through three time zones. Think that can’t throw off your equilibrium just a tad?

Not that any of that is to make an excuse for this little patch of turbulence -- three losses in their past four games -- but it might not entirely be a coincidence. The Dodgers weren’t going to play .800 baseball for the rest of this season, it seems fair to surmise, so now we get to see how the highest-flying team in baseball handles the dog days.

They’re finally here. The Dodgers have scored 13 runs in their past five games, and even Clayton Kershaw, whose 2013 season has been unrelentingly dominant, looked fatigued at times during Tuesday’s 3-2 loss.

“I think we’ve got some guys that are a little bit tired,” manager Don Mattingly said.

Kershaw (13-8), by the way, isn’t admitting to being tired. Nor did he think the line drive he took off his right shin in the sixth inning will be something that causes him to miss any time.

Then again, he told me he felt great last season the day before it was revealed that he had been battling a painful hip condition, one that would cause him to miss two starts. He’s not one to confess to physical maladies easily. In fact, Mattingly said Kershaw was mad at the “fuss” being made over him when the manager and a trainer came to check on him during that inning.

It’s been a while since the Dodgers had anything to complain about, so now we get to see how they respond to this tiny bit of adversity -- the first in months -- since Mattingly's job status was a daily distraction.

“You probably don’t anticipate us winning 80 percent of our games, but at the same time, you don’t ever think about losing, either,” Kershaw said. “I don’t know if it was bound to happen or not, but we’ve just got to come in tomorrow and win.”

They’d better set their alarm clocks.