3 up, 3 down: Phillies 3, Dodgers 2

LOS ANGELES -- Not even an appearance from Dwight Howard could turn around the fortunes of the struggling Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night.

With Howard, the NBA star, watching the game from a luxury suite, the Dodgers lost their fourth straight game, 3-2 to the Philadelphia Phillies, to fall three games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.

Once again it was the offense that failed the Dodgers with the ending becoming as tiresome for Dodgers fans as another Howard trade rumor to L.A.

The Good:

“One Bullet” Fife. Before the game Don Mattingly jokingly nicknamed Stephen Fife, “One Bullet Fife” after Barney Fife from the Andy Griffith Show. The 25-year-old right-hander, making his major league debut Tuesday, showed that he had far more than one bullet in his gun. He pitched six innings, giving up only one run and four hits and left the game with the Dodgers holding a 2-1 lead. “It was a dream come true to finally get a chance to pitch in the big leagues,” Fife said. “It feels good to get the first one out of the way. It was fun to take that challenge on. It was pretty surreal.”

No longer lonely Loney. James Loney, who not so long ago was hitless through 28 at-bats, now is on a three-game hitting streak. He singled on a line drive to center field to score Andre Ethier in the second inning and is now batting .323 in July.

Kemp is back. It didn’t take long for Matt Kemp to show that he was all the way back from his hamstring injury. Kemp had two outfield assists, including a spectacular throw to get Ryan Howard out at home to end the top of the sixth inning. Mattingly was hoping Kemp’s play would spark a turnaround for the Dodgers but it was not to be. “Matt made the big play and you look at that and say OK,” Mattingly said. “But we didn’t get any offense after that.”

The Bad:

Belisario’s outing. Before Tuesday night, Ronald Belisario had been a rock in the Dodgers’ bullpen. He had tossed scoreless baseball in 10 of his last 12 outings but that was far from the case when he entered the game. Belisario only pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up two runs, both earned, before being pulled. The loss was Belisario’s first since June 19, 2010, in Boston. “Sometimes that happens,” Belisario said after the game. “You can’t do anything about that.”

Abreu leading off. It’s hard to single out a single player on the Dodgers’ lineup but Bobby Abreu was 0-for-3 in the leadoff spot with one strikeout. He is now hitless in his last 11 at-bats and is hitting .258 on the season with two home runs and 16 RBIs.

Don’t call it a comeback There’s a reason Dodgers fans are leaving games on a nightly basis even though their team is down one run after eight innings. The Dodgers are now 2-35 when trailing after eight innings.