DETROIT -- The Dodgers found the solution to their run drought.
It was either a pregame hitters meeting called by coach Mike Easler. Or the timing of the Saturday meeting, called before the Dodgers faced a pitcher making his Major League debut. You be the judge.
Not that it mattered in the end, as a sore Brad Penny couldn't protect a three-run lead and the Dodgers fell to the Tigers anyway, 12-7, with three unearned runs charged to Scott Proctor after a throwing error by fill-in shortstop Angel Berroa.
That's the fourth straight loss for the Dodgers, and 16 of 22, although this time the offense couldn't be faulted after suffering back-to-back shutouts.
Matt Kemp returned from his two-game suspension with an RBI infield single, but it was Andre Ethier who led the way with a home run, double and four RBIs. James Loney and Delwyn Young had three hits each, two of Loney's being doubles, in a 13-hit attack. Loney has a 12-game hitting streak, batting .405. Young is batting .345 in his last 12 games.
"Maybe it was a kick in the butt," said Ethier, a reference to the pregame meeting that included a guest appearance by visiting hitting coach Don Mattingly, and was described by manager Joe Torre as "a pep talk."
Ethier described it more as a session to define the style of offense the Dodgers must deploy with the patchwork lineup that exists without injured hitters Rafael Furcal, Andruw Jones and Nomar Garciaparra.
"We've got to grind it out," Ethier said. "We're not going to go out and overwhelm or overpower anybody. This is the identity of our team. It's tough to have an identity if no one steps forward."
He said the results of the meeting "were evident in how many strong at-bats we had. We played hard. We played right."
Of course, they also played a rookie pitcher. Eddie Bonine allowed six runs but became the first Tigers starting pitcher in six years to win his Major League debut.
"It's frustrating to lose," Ethier said. "We go out and put a good game together either offensively or defensively and sometimes have nothing to show for it. We know we played well enough to win one way yesterday and didn't come through the other way. Today it was the other way. It's tough to figure how to get the two together and put a good all-around game together."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.