Dodgers' bats stay cold in loss to Tigers

Dodgers' bats stay cold in loss

DETROIT -- The designated hitter rule was designed to boost offense, but the Dodgers disproved that theory Friday night.

They were shut out by the Tigers in the opener of an Interleague series, 5-0, offering no more resistance than they had the previous day, when they were blanked by the Padres. They haven't scored in 23 innings, and in 22 of their losses they have scored one or no runs. They have lost three straight, 15 of 21 and are a season-worst five games below .500. They're also 5 1/2 games behind Arizona in the National League West.

After a 65-minute rain delay, the Dodgers sent out a lineup that didn't have Matt Kemp (who was completing his two-game suspension for fighting) but did have four batters with fewer Major League RBIs this year than Dodgers starting pitcher Derek Lowe.

That lineup had three hits in seven innings off Tigers winning pitcher Armando Galarraga, and two of those struck the pitcher's leg. Although the Dodgers lined into five outs, the only hit that reached the outfield was James Loney's second-inning triple, and the last 12 Dodgers were retired. It was the first shutout of the year by the Tigers.

"We didn't get many opportunities. It's like reading from the same script as yesterday," said manager Joe Torre. "We didn't put any pressure on anybody. When you don't win, it's really tough to look good. The fact of the matter is, we need to get some wins under our belt to get some confidence, some swagger. You have to dare people to beat you. We're playing like we're unsure of ourselves."

Lowe, a Dearborn, Mich., native who was 7-1 lifetime against his hometown Tigers while with the Red Sox, isn't with the Red Sox anymore, as if he didn't know. He's 4-6 this year, with the Dodgers scoring seven total runs in those six losses. He struck out five in seven innings without a walk, allowed a pair of earned runs in the fifth inning, including Marcus Thames' leadoff homer, then an unearned run in the sixth on Loney's error.

Lowe was so agitated on the play that he grabbed his glove with his throwing hand, then stopped himself before heaving it at something, or somebody. What he was thinking was left to the imagination when he left the clubhouse without speaking to reporters.

Certainly, it's no fun being in your free-agent year on a rebuilding team, which is what Torre sounded like he was managing while drawing comparisons to his Yankees days.

"The need to win, the desire to win, is apparent. But again, you feel like whatever you're doing now, you're trying to develop, get a feel for the team, for its ability, for what ingredients you may need," he said. "So in the meantime, you're obviously trying to win as many games as you can. Certainly, you know this isn't a free ride by any means. We're very fortunate the team that looked like it would run away has been sputtering and we're within arm's length."

Torre was asked if winning was any less important in Los Angeles.

"It's always dangerous to say it's not that important," he said. "Nothing is further from the truth, but the fact of the matter is, it's not 110 mph all the time [like New York]. When you have a young team, they're going to get better through playing. You've got to figure out how good they're going to be, and that takes time."

The only thing that seemed to snap the Dodgers out of their lethargy was a bench-clearing standoff in the bottom of the eighth inning, when reliever Cory Wade hit Carlos Guillen with a 1-2 pitch after Guillen had called time to flex a sore wrist.

"We're not trying to hit anybody in that situation. It doesn't make any sense," said catcher Russell Martin. "It looked like his hand was bothering him and we tried to throw up and in, make him use the hand. He's frustrated. I understand, you get hit, you never like it. But you've got to know the game."

Guillen yelled at Wade, who yelled back at Guillen to motion for him to take his base, and teammates came running from all directions. Nobody was punched, nobody was ejected and nobody was really sure why any of it happened.

"Somebody gets hit by a pitch and wants to start a war," said Torre. "I thought it's part of baseball."

Two pitches later, Magglio Ordonez launched his 10th home run and spent plenty of time admiring it before circling the bases.

"I wasn't worried about that," said Wade, who has been otherwise spectacular since his promotion from Double-A. "I threw a bad pitch and he did exactly what you're supposed to do with it."

There were no further incidents, but there are two more games in the series.

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