LOS ANGELES -- Different night, different opponent, but the same result.
For the third day in a row, the Los Angeles Dodgers were incapable of producing a big RBI to capitalize on their rare offensive threats, and as a result took a 2-1 loss against the Milwaukee Brewers. It was the Dodgers' eighth defeat in 12 outings and the Brewers' sixth win in seven games.
Los Angeles lost a game in which it stranded five runners, and once again the offense did not support a more-than-adequate pitching performance by Jon Garland, who limited the Brewers to just two runs on seven hits and four walks in six innings of work. Overall, Milwaukee stranded 14 runners.
"I know I'm saying the same things every night, but there is nothing else I can say," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after the game, repeating that his team is getting great starting pitching performances but lacks clutch hitting.
On Monday night, as well as many nights before, scoring chances have been scarce but they have existed. Twice in the game, Los Angeles got its first two hitters on base to start an inning, but on both occasions the next hitters failed to ignite the momentum Mattingly is looking for.
"It really is frustrating. It seems we are having to fight for every run," Mattingly added.
And he had reasons for that thought. On one hand, there was a second-inning near-home run by slumping Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe that was stolen by 6-foot-4 center fielder and high jumper Carlos Gómez. On the other, Mattingly was remembering how Garland gave a two-out walk in the sixth inning to Milwaukee starter Shaun Marcum that kept the inning alive and allowed Rickie Weeks to get a base hit to left that brought in Corey Hart with the game-winning run. Hart had doubled to lead off the inning and advanced to third one out later when Jonathan Lucroy flied out to center.
"That's baseball there," Uribe said. "Every player tries his best and Carlos reached and grabbed the home run. We might think that run there would've meant a tie. But we can also see later the play I made at third, and that also prevented them from adding a run. You never know what can happen in a game."
The Dominican infielder added that he and his teammates are working very hard to try to crack hits with men on base, but they just aren't falling in.
Mattingly said that he feels his players are probably trying so hard they are pressuring themselves a little bit.
The reality is that the Dodgers are now 0-21 in games in which they are behind going into the ninth. In this game, they entered the seventh behind 2-1 to the Brewers.
"That walk shows it's not easy to pitch regardless who's at the plate," Garland explained. "I thought I had a couple of close calls that didn't go my way. We had a tight zone all night."
But again, pitching was not the problem. It was the lack of clutch hitting. And as it seems, there is little that can be done for that other than wait for a spark.
"We'll keep working to find that momentum," Mattingly added, hoping for a change.
Noel Piñeiro Planas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNDeportesLosAngeles.com.