Dodgers can't finish sweep of Rockies

Dodgers can't finish sweep

DENVER -- Try to win pennants with a pitching staff of kids and there will be days like Sunday for the Dodgers.

Clayton Kershaw had his worst pro start, charged with nine earned runs in the Dodgers' 10-4 loss to the Rockies. Kershaw retired the first six batters, then twice in the third inning issued a walk followed by a home run.

"A walk and home run -- kind of do it to you every time," said the 21-year-old Kershaw, who struck out 13 only two starts earlier but now has back-to-back losses and is winless (0-2) on the season with an ERA of 7.29.

As much of a blowout as the final score indicates, the game was actually winnable for the Dodgers, even though they trailed at one point, 9-0.

For example, Kershaw was removed with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth inning and the first batter to face Scott Elbert, Jeff Baker, hit a catchable liner that center fielder Matt Kemp misplayed into a three-run triple.

Nonetheless, Kershaw has been charged with 15 earned runs in his past nine innings. That's two more earned runs than Kershaw allowed in 61 1/3 innings while in Double-A last season when he wasn't in the big leagues.

"It's tough," Kershaw said. "Being a starting pitcher, you've got four days to think about it. That's kind of the hard part of being a starting pitcher, but you've got to put it behind you. You come to the field tomorrow and do your work and move on and look to your next opponent. It's not easy. You're disappointed you let the team down and lost the game. It's something you've got to get over. By the time the fifth day rolls around, you've got to be ready."

Manager Joe Torre picked this cold and windy day to give Manny Ramirez his first day off of the season. Torre also rested infielders Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal. Offensively, though, it looked like most of the club also took the day off against Rockies starter Jason Marquis.

The Cubs bumped Marquis from their starting rotation against the Dodgers in last October's playoffs, but he was good enough to hold the Dodgers scoreless for the first five innings Sunday and take the game into the eighth inning as Dodgers hitters abandoned their previously patient ways. Marquis is now 4-1 lifetime against the Dodgers, who went four innings without a hit at one point and didn't score until a two-run double in the sixth inning by James Loney, who had three hits and three RBIs.

When Torre talks about how proud he is of his club grinding through a game for nine full innings, he isn't talking about games like this one. Maybe that's why he held a postgame team meeting. And why he again rejected the suggestion that winning two of three in a series takes the sting away from a getaway-day loss.

"You get a little greedy when you win the first two and you want to win the third," Torre said. "We didn't get it done. They got a big lead and we played catchup."

Adhering to an offensive game plan can be addressed with talk. The mistakes of youthful pitchers, however, are something the Dodgers just need to endure. Although Sunday's loss cost them a chance at a series sweep, winning two of three was a windfall considering the pitching they received from Eric Stults, James McDonald and Kershaw.

The combination of three inexperienced starters and Coors Field resulted in no starter pitching more than five innings, 13 walks in 14 2/3 innings and an ERA for the trio of 10.43. Stults was the most effective, allowing three runs compared to five for McDonald and Kershaw's nine.

And it also resulted in postgame comments about "learning."

"We escaped it yesterday," Torre said of the Saturday night win despite McDonald's struggles. "Kershaw got in trouble today when it looked like he tried to get ahead of hitters and gave up home runs. Things speeded up. He had good stuff. But he tries rushing and got a little frustrated. Doing that, you won't be in command. It's the learning process."

Torre said he would remind Kershaw of how he felt striking out 13 Giants, of repeating his delivery and of minimizing damage.

Catcher Russell Martin agreed that the game got away from Kershaw in that four-run third inning.

"It looked like he started to rush a bit and maybe got a little frustrated," Martin said. "He made mistakes and paid for them. It's a learning process."

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