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Carlos Frias' flameout underscores Dodgers' need for starter

LOS ANGELES -- Carlos Frias showed why, despite some decent outings, the Dodgers are still in the market for a starting pitcher.

A night after one of the team’s fill-in pitchers, Mike Bolsinger, made a dominant start in which he and Kenley Jansen faced the minimum 27 batters, the other, Frias, completely imploded. The San Diego Padres thumped Frias for 10 runs on 12 hits in four-plus innings Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, including a first-inning grand slam from Justin Upton.

Frias became the first Dodgers pitcher to allow that many runs since Brad Penny did in 2008.

Needless to say, this one was over quickly. The Padres avoided being swept with 20 hits and an 11-3 victory, the kind of overwhelming offensive output the Dodgers used to produce before their slump led to nine runs in their past eight games.

Still, Frias never gave them a chance, good offense or not.

“It was struggling with my command the first couple of innings,” Frias said. “I wasn’t able to control all of my pitches, but the positive thing was I was able to go back and compete for a little bit. It wasn’t my best day today, but that’s part of the game.”

He gave up a leadoff double followed by two walks to start the game. Upton then unloaded on what is safe to call a misplaced fastball, hitting it over the center-field fence for a grand slam and his 12th home run of the season.

Things continued to spiral for Frias in the second as he allowed four more runs and then another in the fifth on a Will Middlebrooks homer. He went out to pitch the fifth as the Dodgers hoped he could at least eat innings to save the bullpen some work, but after back-to-back singles to start the frame, it was time to go.

Manager Don Mattingly received a loud ovation when he stepped out of the dugout to remove Frias, whose ERA more than doubled from 2.55 to 5.34 in about an hour’s work. His game score checked in at minus-4.

“It’s just a bad day,” Mattingly said. “He didn’t get pitches where he wanted, he got behind in the count. Sometimes you pay for it, sometimes you don’t. Sometimes they pop it up or hit the ball at people. Today they didn’t.”

This was not Frias’ lone implosion with the Dodgers. Last season against the Colorado Rockies he allowed eight runs on 10 hits in 2/3 of an inning, becoming the first pitcher in the modern era to give up 10 hits without recording three outs.

This season Frias had been mostly good in his four previous starts. He gave the Dodgers two quality starts in his previous two outings, and he allowed three earned runs over 10 1/3 innings in his first two starts.

But as he showed Sunday, the 25-year-old cannot be a trusted member of the rotation over the long run at this point in his career. That is why the team’s front office is likely to aggressively pursue outside help on the trade market over the next month, depending on how good or bad Bolsinger, Frias and Brett Anderson perform.

President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has said the Dodgers will do their scouting and vetting in advance of a potential trade that could come as early as June, well before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Beyond that, there is not much he can do since no team with truly desirable assets has declared itself a seller at this point.

Possible trade targets include Oakland’s Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez, Milwaukee’s Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza, Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake or Texas’ Yovani Gallardo.

In the meantime, the Dodgers have to hope Frias, or some other in-house arm, can hold down his rotation spot until help arrives.