Published September 13, 2012
PHOENIX – The only solace in all these losses for the Los Angeles Dodgers is that they aren't losing any ground in the NL wild-card race.
"We have to feel fortunate, but I don't really want to feel fortunate like that," manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday night after his team's latest defeat. "I'd rather feel fortunate that we are winning, winning, winning and keeping us in the hunt."
Trevor Cahill pitched seven terrific innings and the Arizona Diamondbacks got consecutive RBI singles from Justin Upton and Gerardo Parra in a 3-2 victory over Los Angeles.
The slumping Dodgers, who have lost six of seven, squandered another chance to pull even with St. Louis in the chase for the second NL wild-card spot. The Cardinals lost 3-2 to San Diego earlier Wednesday, their 11th defeat in 15 games.
Los Angeles remained a game behind St. Louis, with the teams beginning a four-game series Thursday night at Dodger Stadium.
"I'm sure people are getting tired of hearing me say it, but we have to turn the page," Mattingly said. "St. Louis and ourselves, we have let a lot of people back in the race — but it's still in our hands. No matter how bad it has looked and no matter where it has been, it's still right there for us."
A lack of offense is the reason for the Dodgers' recent slide.
Los Angeles, which dropped seven games behind first-place San Francisco in the NL West, is batting .184 in its last five games with one homer and seven runs. The Dodgers have scored more than three runs in a game twice in 11 games this month.
Facing division rival Los Angeles for the fourth time in two months, Cahill (11-11) got through a rocky first inning before mixing four pitches to retire 20 of his final 22 batters.
"I felt confident I could throw all four pitches anytime in the count," said Cahill, who has won his last four starts against Los Angeles.
The right-hander scattered four hits, struck out seven and did not walk a batter for the second time this season. David Hernandez pitched the ninth for his second save in two nights, retiring Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez in order.
Gonzalez struck out three times after hitting a two-run double in the first and was still fuming after the game about a called third strike in the ninth.
"It should have been ball four," Gonzalez said. "Game on the line, ninth inning, 3-2 pitch, he made a great pitch but it is a ball. That shouldn't happen, not in the time of the game like that. ... Day in and day out we take pitches that are close and they are always a strike. Situations when you are trying to get something going, it is taken away from you just because. Guys have been saying it throughout the league — the ninth inning, they are pulling the trigger and stuff. This is all year long, every team.
"I mean, seriously, I should be on first base. The worst thing about it, if you make a big deal about it, then you get a call from the league and maybe get suspended. They are trying to protect them (the umpires), but at the same time we wouldn't do anything if they just call that pitch the way it should be called."
For his part, plate umpire Dale Scott said that was exactly what he did.
"That was strike three. It was a good pitch," Scott told a pool reporter. "We call pitches whether they're strikes or balls, whether they're in the first inning or the ninth. All we're trying to do is get pitches right. That's what we do 99 percent of the time. There's no memo out saying call strikes in the ninth inning."
After the first inning, Luis Cruz's two singles represented all the offense for the Dodgers.
"It feels good that you're able to score two early," Mattingly said. "But that feeling goes away as you're not able to add on. As the game gets later you've given the momentum back."
Pitching with a 2-1 lead, Dodgers starter Aaron Harang issued consecutive two-out walks in the sixth. Upton followed with a single to tie the game 2-all and end Harang's night.
Left-hander Randy Choate came on to face the left-handed hitting Parra, who lined a single to right that gave the Diamondbacks a 3-2 lead.
"You get two guys who are up there that can change a game real quick, so you're not trying to lay a cookie in there," Harang said. "You're trying to give them something to swing at that they're either going to hit softly or hit on the ground somewhere. Then I end up walking those guys."
Harang (9-9) allowed four hits in 5 2-3 innings but walked four.
The Diamondbacks have won 10 of the past 12 meetings between the clubs. Arizona starters are 9-0 with a 1.75 ERA in their last 12 games against the Dodgers.
"Winning one-run games against division rivals, sometimes those are better than blowouts," Cahill said.
The Diamondbacks got a run in the second when Paul Goldschmidt singled, stole second, went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Upton's sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz missed his second straight game with a stiff back. ... Harang is 3-8 with a 3.19 ERA in 17 career appearances and 16 starts against Arizona. ... What better way to reduce some pennant-race tension than phantom infield practice? Before the game, the Dodgers pantomimed their way through their infield warmup, with the fielders scooping imaginary grounders and catchers stumbling in foul territory under invisible, sky-high popups. ... Dodgers RHP Josh Beckett (1-2) starts against St. Louis RHP Lance Lynn (14-7) on Thursday.