LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers had a hard time producing with runners in scoring position during Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Pirates, coming up with only two hits in 15 opportunities.
Though their season numbers aren't impressive -- they're seventh in the National League with a .247 average and .374 slugging mark with men in scoring position -- the Dodgers surprisingly are producing at a level almost identical to last year's National League West champions. The 2013 troupe batted .252 and slugged .367 with men on second and/or third.
Asked if he felt this is one of the aspects of the game that is contagious, manager Don Mattingly deferred judgment.
"It may happen one day like that," he said. "One guy gets hot and takes the pressure off everybody. Hitting in scoring position is a matter of putting pressure on yourself all the time. That one at-bat with runners in scoring position shouldn't change your approach.
"It really gets back to getting a pitch to hit and hitting it hard -- simple as that. It doesn't matter if it's the first inning or the ninth inning -- get a pitch and hit it hard."
Mattingly said he had no explanation why the Cardinals could set a record last season batting .330 with runners in scoring position and, with basically the same cast, be struggling at .240 this season, ninth in the league.
"Last year I remember people talking about it with the Cardinals, how amazing it was," Mattingly said. "Right now they might be hearing about it in the opposite direction -- it's a negative instead of a positive. You hear a lot more about that now as a player [than in previous eras]."
Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.