Dodgers' Wild Card hopes take hit

Dodgers' Wild Card hopes take hit

DENVER -- The Fed chairman has yet to weigh in, but key indicators show that the Dodgers' Wild Card drive has stalled like the economy.

They suffered a double-dip recession against the Rockies this weekend, whacked 10-5 on Sunday after losing 5-3 Saturday night as the trip that started with four wins ended with two losses against a team the Dodgers are chasing.

Colorado's first series victory over the Dodgers in two years left Joe Torre's team 6 1/2 games back and in fourth place in the Wild Card.

And now the Dodgers will continue without Manny Ramirez, who is expected to become a Chicago White Sox designated hitter Monday, when the Dodgers will let him and $4 million in salary go via a waiver claim.

His final act as a Dodger was, fittingly, getting ejected from Sunday's game. Out of the starting lineup a fourth game, Ramirez was sent up to pinch-hit with the bases loaded in the sixth inning and the Dodgers down by six runs. He took a called strike one (that appeared outside) and was ejected for arguing by plate umpire Gary Cederstrom so quickly you'd think he was trying to get tossed intentionally.

Afterward, manager Joe Torre defended Ramirez and criticized Cederstrom. Torre also somehow defended and criticized his team's offense, which cut a seven-run deficit to three runs at one point and had the go-ahead run at the plate, but also stranded a dozen runners.

Andre Ethier had his worst game, going 0-for-5 with four strikeouts. In day games, he is hitting .165 with 30 strikeouts in 103 at-bats.

The Dodgers left runners in scoring position in every inning from the fourth through the eighth, trying all the while to dig out of a hole dug by starting pitcher Ted Lilly, whose unbeaten streak with Dodgers was halted at five.

"One of those days when I wasn't throwing the ball that well," said Lilly. "It would have been nice to find a way to give up two runs, or three or five. Not seven."

Lilly lasted only four innings and allowed a pair of home runs to Carlos Gonzalez. The key inning was the fourth, when the bottom of the Colorado order triggered a five-run rally with two outs.

"That's a lot of damage after two were out and nobody on base," said Rockies manager Jim Tracy.

Lilly wouldn't blame the thin air at Coors Field, where he had allowed six earned runs in 7 2/3 innings previously.

"I just didn't pitch good," he said. "I don't think it's the ballpark. I've seen guys have really good curveballs here. I figure if I execute, there's no reason why I should be able to."

Ryan Spilborghs also homered for the Rockies, who had three triples (two by Dexter Fowler) and two doubles.

"They've been our kryptonite for a while now, so it's obviously very nice to get a series from them," said winning pitcher Jason Hammel. "We're trying to build momentum. There's still a lot of baseball left and we're not out of it. We're definitely not out of it."

The Dodgers' offense was led by Scott Podsednik (Ramirez's replacement in left field) and Matt Kemp, with three hits each. Ryan Theriot had two hits, including a two-run single in a three-run eighth inning that made the game close, only for Octavio Dotel to allow a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth.

"We have to pitch better than we pitched," said Torre. "That's the first clunker that Teddy's had."

"Chalk it up to an anomaly," catcher Brad Ausmus said. "In five days he'll be back to the Ted Lilly we saw the first five starts. But we fought our way back into the game, never folded up shop."

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.