But that only made for a more bitter ending to the homestand, as a late rally fell short and the Dodgers lost to the Angels, 6-5, suffering their first home sweep in the history of the Interleague Freeway Series, their second series sweep of the year and first at home in two years.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
"Pretty sure the Dodgers didn't expect [they'd sweep], they expect to win three games," said Angels center fielder Torii Hunter, who homered. "You don't come in here thinking about a sweep, you come in here thinking about winning a game."
Rule 5 rookie starter Carlos Monasterios didn't make it out of the third inning, setting in motion a run on relievers that, among other things, gave familial fans the novelty of watching brothers Jered and Jeff Weaver pitching -- and batting -- against each other.
Unlike a year ago, when they started against each other, this time Jeff's long-relief appearance meant something had gone haywire for the Dodgers. Specifically, that would be Monasterios, who was charged with four runs on seven hits and three walks in 2 2/3 innings.
"I really didn't get the romance of this thing," Torre said about the Weaver confrontations. "I was too busy trying to figure out how to get through nine."
On the heels of John Ely's five-inning Saturday night loss, the Dodgers suffered back-to-back short and losing starts by rookies, which is no way to defend back-to-back National League West titles. Technically, it happened in 2008 with Clayton Kershaw and Hiroki Kuroda, if you want to count Kuroda as a rookie.
In fact, just having in a rotation two rookie starters with a combined total of three Triple-A starts is enough to make a veteran manager jittery.
"Two starts, the two kids, you can't say you're disappointed because this is their first time through this," Torre said. "You don't want to put the onus of responsibility on their shoulders. That's not the right thing to do."
One of them will likely give way for the return from the disabled list of Opening Day starter Vicente Padilla, who got knocked around Sunday in a Triple-A rehab start. Despite giving up two homers to Chad Tracy, son of former Dodgers and current Rockies manager Jim Tracy, Padilla is likely to start for the Dodgers on Saturday in Boston.
"That doesn't mean a lot to me," Torre said of Padilla's result, four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. "We'll get more out of the conversation [with Padilla] Tuesday [when he rejoins the club in Cincinnati]."
And by the Trade Deadline, the Dodgers will probably renew their annual pursuit of Cliff Lee or a similar hired gun.
What becomes of Monasterios, or Ely, will be decided on the upcoming trip. The Dodgers finished the longest homestand of the season 8-5 and trail the Padres by one game.
Monasterios allowed a pair of runs in the first and third innings (including a Hunter homer) and escaped a second-inning mess with a double-play grounder.
"I was trying to locate a lot of pitches that missed the spots," said Monasterios. "I really don't know why. I felt good before the game. I don't have an explanation."
Monasterios said he hasn't been told anything about his next assignment, but he's "aware of the situation" and he reiterated that he feels most comfortable starting. As a Rule 5 pick, Monasterios made the jump to the big leagues off only three Double-A appearances last year, and Torre has wanted to shield him from pressure situations.
Jeff Weaver allowed one run in 2 1/3 innings and Justin Miller served up a solo shot to Mike Napoli in the eighth inning that proved decisive after Loney's second double scored a pair in the eighth inning. Between them, Ronald Belisario and Hong-Chih Kuo threw scoreless innings, as did Jonathan Broxton in the ninth.
Meanwhile, even though Andre Ethier went 0-for-4 and is hitting .220 without a homer since returning from a broken finger, the Dodgers chipped away. They scored two in the seventh on back-to-back doubles by Ramirez and Loney (that chased winner Jered Weaver) and an RBI single by Blake DeWitt. Russell Martin led off the eighth with a walk, Ramirez singled and they both scored on Loney's second double.
And the Dodgers had a shot in the bottom of the ninth against Angels closer Brian Fuentes when pinch-hitter Casey Blake led off with a walk. But slumping Matt Kemp, benched at the start and inserted in a ninth-inning double-switch, was not asked to bunt and instead struck out. Furcal then bounced into a game-ending double-play.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less