Barry Zito, Giants fall to Dodgers
April 17, 2009
LOS ANGELES ” The Dodgers are scoring runs at a feverish pace. And that’s without any home runs from Manny Ramirez.
Ramirez was 0 for 4 with an intentional walk, but his teammates still managed to beat the San Francisco Giants 7-2 on Wednesday night. Rafael Furcal hit a leadoff home run, Casey Blake and pitch-hitter Doug Mientkiewicz each had two RBIs, and Matt Kemp hit a run-scoring triple.
“I’ve always felt it was dangerous to rely on any one person, because what happens if you don’t have that person? Does it automatically mean we can’t win? That’s not the case. You’ve got to find a way,” said manager Joe Torre, whose lineup has produced 46 runs in the last six games.
Ramirez, who began this season needing 10 homers to overtake Mickey Mantle for 15th place on the career list, hasn’t homered in his first 31 at-bats spanning 10 games. The 17-year veteran’s longest drought at the start of a season was when he went 55 at-bats in 16 games in 2006. His other longest droughts out of the gate were in 2007 (13 games) and 2005 (10 games).
“Manny’s still getting to know a lot of guys. He’s only been in the National League a short time and he really hasn’t seen a lot of them,” Torre said. “His presence is still here, though ” I mean, the number of walks and the on-base percentage, and all that stuff. It’s probably helping Orlando Hudson get the pitches he gets, and he knows what to do with them. So it’s important for these guys to know that they can do it on their own, because they have that kind of ability.”
Eric Stults (2-0) allowed two runs and five hits in five innings, helping send San Francisco to its sixth straight loss.
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The Giants have lost their first six road games for the first time since moving west with the Dodgers after the 1957 season. The last time they dropped their first six on the road was in 1947 ” the year Jackie Robinson made his big league debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
“They happen. You know that, and it’s happening early for us,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I didn’t know we’d have a streak like this this early. There’s no question, we’re bad right now. Are we bad? No. But right now, we are.”
Three-time All-Star Barry Zito (0-2) had another rough start, allowing six runs over five-plus innings on four hits and four walks. He also hit two batters and struck out four. Last Friday in his season debut, the left-hander gave up four runs and seven hits over four innings in a 7-3 loss at San Diego.
Zito, in the third year of a seven-year, $126 million contract, is 21-32 with a 4.95 ERA in 67 starts for the Giants. Last season, the 2002 AL Cy Young Award winner gave up 102 walks, struck out 120 batters and lost 17 games ” his worst totals over a full season in the majors. He also became the first Giants pitcher since Jesse Burkett in 1890 to start a season 0-8, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“I’m going out and fighting, and I’m in the right place in where I have to be, but the results don’t show that,” Zito said. “Sometimes you get results and you’re not where you have to be. Ultimately, you’re judged on results. For me, I’m eager to get out there the next time and prove myself.”
Zito left in the sixth after nicking Russell Martin with a pitch and walking the next two batters. All three scored, as Brandon Medders gave up Blake’s sacrifice fly and Mientkiewicz’s two-run double into the right field corner.
But Mientkiewicz dislocated his right shoulder sliding headfirst into second. He stayed in the game after getting checked out by trainer Stan Conte, but took himself out one batter later ” walking with Conte to the dugout hunched over with his right arm dangling. He will get an MRI on Friday.
“I’ve dived a thousand times in my career and never had it pop,” Mientkiewicz said. “My slide was way to early. As soon as my hand hit the ground, I felt a crunch. As soon as we popped it back in, it felt fine. But it popped out again when I put my hand on my helmet. I’m hoping it’s not as bad as they said it is.”
The Dodgers grabbed a 3-1 lead with a pair of runs in the second inning, after the Giants tied it in the top half on Edgar Renteria’s run-scoring infield hit.
Andre Ethier was plunked by Zito leading off the second. One pitch later, Ethier scored on a sinking line drive by Kemp that left fielder Fred Lewis misplayed into a triple.
Blake followed with an RBI single. James Loney, who drew a pair of bases-loaded walks in Wednesday night’s 5-4 victory, came up again with three men on after an intentional walk to Ramirez and took a called third strike to end the inning.
Furcal, who signed a three-year, $30 million contract extension in December after spurning an offer from the Atlanta Braves at the last minute, drove a 2-0 pitch into the lower seats in the left field corner for his 24th career leadoff homer and 12th with the Dodgers. He was limited to 36 games last season because of an injured lower back that required surgery in July, but returned to the lineup in time for the playoffs.
Notes: Giants ace Tim Lincecum, who began spring training late because of bronchitis, flew back to San Francisco on Thursday morning to see a doctor because he was feeling queasy, Bochy said. But everything checked out OK, and the reigning Cy Young winner is expected to make his scheduled start against Arizona on Saturday. … Kemp has at least one hit in each of the Dodgers’ first 10 games. … Torre is one win from tying Bucky Harris for sixth place on the career list at 2,159.