Slim division margin doesn't faze LA

Slim division margin doesn't faze LA

LOS ANGELES -- This is how poorly things are going for the Dodgers right now: Jonathan Broxton gave up the lead in the ninth inning Wednesday night without allowing a hit.

Broxton walked Albert Pujols, who proceeded to steal second base and advance to third on a Russell Martin throwing error. Matt Holliday then completed the unconventional run with a sacrifice fly to center field for a 3-2 lead.

As odd as the winning run was scored, losing games is nothing unusual for the Dodgers these days.

The Dodgers are 15-18 since the All-Star break and 7-11 in August. They've lost the best record in baseball to the Yankees during that stretch and are now in danger of losing their stranglehold on first place in the National League West.

After beating the Nationals on Wednesday, the Rockies are only 3 1/2 games behind the Dodgers, and the Giants sit at 4 1/2 back. The 3 1/2-game lead is the Dodgers' smallest since they led the Giants by three games on May 12.

All those ominous signs might make fans nervous about a late-season collapse, but not Dodgers manager Joe Torre.

Before the Wednesday's game, Torre said he isn't worried about the Dodgers' shrinking lead, and he reiterated that sentiment after his club lost to the Cardinals.

"I can't worry about that," Torre said. "We've got to go out and put a little bit of a streak together. We were playing tough and we've lost two tough one-run games here.

" ... You've got to fight for what you want and fight your way through these things. I think we're fine."

While Wednesday's starter Clayton Kershaw also said the Dodgers aren't overly concerned with what their division foes are doing, he admitted the Rockies' recent success makes these losses hurt a little more.

"The Rockies are a good team -- winning a lot of games -- so it makes every win even that more important," he said. "I guess every loss is a little bit more disappointing, but we still control our own destiny."

One thing that could help the Dodgers get back on track is their upcoming four-game series against the scuffling Cubs, which begins Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.

The Cubs have lost of seven of their past 10 games.

A strong showing in that series would put the Dodgers in better shape for their three-game trip at Colorado next Tuesday-Thursday.

Pitching matchup
LAD: RHP Jeff Weaver (5-4, 3.71 ERA)
Torre announced Tuesday that Weaver will start on Thursday against the Cubs in place of right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, who's recovering from a mild concussion sustained last Saturday. Weaver has started six games for the Dodgers this season, going 2-1 with a 3.08 ERA. His most recent start came in San Francisco on Aug. 12, when he threw three scoreless innings in what was a bullpen day for the Dodgers. Torre said one of the reasons he decided to go with Weaver was because of how the right-hander matched up with the Cubs' lineup.

CHC: LHP Tom Gorzelanny (5-2, 5.24 ERA)
Gorzelanny has made three starts since the Pirates dealt him to the Cubs prior to the non-waiver Trade Deadline; two of them have been good. He held the Reds to one run in 7 1/3 innings in his first start, but in his second start -- against the Rockies -- Gorzelanny was hit in the foot by a line drive and left after surrendering six runs in 1 1/3 innings. However, Gorzelanny bounced back on Saturday, pitching against his old team and making his first start at Wrigley Field as a member of the Cubs. Although he lasted only five innings, Gorzelanny held the Pirates to one run on three hits and struck out eight, one short of his career high. Gorzelanny even struck out the side in the third, dominating the opposing hitters with a high fastball that got up to 93 mph.

Tidbits
Broxton had his win streak snapped at seven Wednesday night, dropping his first decision of the season. ... The Dodgers lost their fourth straight one-run game Wednesday, falling to 21-16 overall and 17-6 at home. Despite the loss to the Cardinals, four Dodgers relievers combined for 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball. ... Matt Kemp went 0-for-4 on his bobblehead night.

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Up next
• Friday: Dodgers (Randy Wolf, 7-6, 3.43) vs. Cubs (Randy Wells, 9-5, 3.01), 7:10 p.m. PT
• Saturday: Dodgers (Charlie Haeger, 0-1, 3.86) vs. Cubs (Ted Lilly, 9-7, 3.42), 1:10 p.m. PT
• Sunday: Dodgers (Chad Billingsley, 12-6, 3.70) vs. Cubs (Ryan Dempster, 6-7, 4.28), 1:10 p.m. PT

David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.