LOS ANGELES -- The batting order was shuffled and the offense scored some runs on Monday night, but Grady Little's bullpen sprang a leak and the Dodgers lost again. Chad Billingsley was brought in to keep a game close and five runs scored while he was on the mound as the Dodgers were beaten by Milwaukee, 9-5, trimming their lead in the West to one-half game over idle San Diego. "It looked good at the end," Little said of his scrambled lineup, which scored five runs from the sixth through the eighth innings. "We produced more runs than we did all weekend in Anaheim [four in three losses]. We're just struggling a little now. We will get through this."
Starter Brett Tomko (1-5), coming off his worst start of the year, was assigned another loss, charged with five runs in 5 1/3 innings. One came on the first of Prince Fielder's two booming homers and Johnny Estrada also took Tomko deep. Richie Weeks led the Brewers with four hits and three RBIs. "I got a couple balls up, and they hit home runs. Other than that, I threw the ball well," said Tomko, who was charged with two runs that Billingsley inherited. Billingsley had been on a roll, going 10 2/3 innings without allowing a run. Little went with him instead of Chin-hui Tsao with two on and one out in the sixth when Tomko reached 107 pitches by walking Geoff Jenkins after Estrada's catchable fly fell untouched in shallow right-center. But Billingsley was roughed up for hits by four of the next five batters he faced, allowing the Brewers to extend their lead to 8-0. To that point, the returns on Little's batting order experiment weren't looking good, either. He had flopped Rafael Furcal and Juan Pierre, flopped Russell Martin and Luis Gonzalez and flopped Andy LaRoche and Andre Ethier. Pierre went 0-for-4 with an uncontested stolen base. Furcal extended his hitting streak to nine games with a pair of hits. Martin went 0-for-4. But through 5 1/2 innings, all the Dodgers got off Jeff Suppan was Furcal's infield single. They finally scored in the sixth on a double by Furcal, an RBI single by Nomar Garciaparra and a two-run homer by Jeff Kent. Wilson Betemit delivered an RBI pinch-single in the seventh (he's 5-for-6 with seven RBIs pinch-hitting) and Gonzalez slugged his first homer of the month in the eighth. "We still lost," said Gonzalez. There was still too much ground to make up, and Fielder added to it with a long homer in the ninth off Takashi Saito, pitching mop-up to get some work after going stale waiting for a game to save. "We just have to be patient and don't panic, there's nothing to panic about," said Little, whose club matched its longest losing streak of the season. "We know we've got a good club, and we know what we're capable of. We're just having a few rough days, that's all." Little noted that in a quick postgame check by his staff, 11 of Milwaukee's 13 hits came with two strikes. "I attribute that to the type of hitters they have," Little said, although others might point to pitch selection and location. Tomko, like the team, has been having a few rough days. This was a significant improvement from his previous start (eight runs, 2 1/3 innings against St. Louis), but the five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings left him at with a 6.28 ERA. Naturally, questions about the security of his role followed, particularly as Jason Schmidt progresses in his recovery from shoulder problems. "That's not on my mind tonight," said Little. Tomko addressed it when asked. "The results are the results. If you're not winning, you're not winning," he said. "There's no way to sugarcoat it. You try to be accountable for what you're doing. It's not the way I'd want to write it up or the way I want it to happen, but I'm not beating myself up and thinking I'm the worst pitcher in the world. "If I'm not getting the job done and he wants to do something, that's Grady's decision and it's out of my control. I'm not thinking that this could be it. It's a bad little stretch. Whatever they want me to do, I'll do it professionally. I won't sit there and worry about it."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.