Not even the hot-hitting duo of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier could dig the Los Angeles Dodgers out of the hole they were in on Sunday.
Chad Billingsley got clobbered for two early home runs – including a grand slam by Jordan Schafer to give the Astros a six-run lead in the second inning – and the Dodgers were shut out for the first time this season in an ugly 12-0 loss to Houston.
Kemp and Ethier, who have driven in 43 of the Dodgers’ 68 runs and rank first and second in RBIs in the majors, combined to go 0-6 as part of performance that saw Los Angeles tally as many errors as hits against Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez.
Both sluggers were replaced to start the sixth inning, ending Kemp’s season-long hitting streak at 10 games — in which he batted .556 — and his home-run streak at three games.
”A lot of miscues all around,” said Ethier, who went 0 for 3 and could not make a catch at the wall to deny Schafer the grand slam. ”I don’t think you can point the finger at one guy. Obviously our offense didn’t do anything to take some pressure off the staff, and obviously we didn’t do anything defensive-wise to come up with some big plays to get us out of the innings.”
The defeat was the worst by shutout for the Dodgers since a 13-0 trouncing at the hands of Anaheim on June 25, 2004.
It was the worst loss overall since August 15, 2010, a 13-1 defeat at Atlanta.
Mark Ellis mustered two hits and Jerry Hairston one against Rodriguez (2-1), whose seven-inning outing also included striking out six and three walks.
Fernando Rodriguez and Brandon Lyon pitched an inning each to complete the shutout.
The Dodgers were outhit 12-6.
It was a day to forget for Billingsley (2-1), who entered the game undefeated after three straight quality starts and a 1.33 ERA.
He was done after just 3 1/3 innings, having allowed two runs in the fourth — including one on a wild pitch — and left the mound with runners at first and third.
Billingsley gave up nine runs (five earned) on four hits. He struck out two and walked four.
”It didn’t turn out very good,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Billingsley’s outing. ”He wasn’t as sharp as he’s been the first two outings.”
That appeared obvious from the start.
Billingsley gave up a two-run homer to Carlos Lee in the first inning and an inning later served up a cutter that Schafer turned into his first-career grand slam after Ethier failed to make the catch at the wall.
It was only the second grand slam allowed by Billingsley in his seven-year major league career, the previous one coming in 2008 against Adam LaRoche and Pittsburgh.
”It tipped right off my glove,” Ethier said of the ball that gave the Astros a 6-0 lead. ”I carried a little bit farther; I kind of under-jumped, too, because I didn’t think it was going that far and I didn’t want to over-jump on it.”
Billingsley’s replacement, Jamey Wright, finished the fourth but not before Schafer scored from third on a forceout off a grounder by J.D. Martinez to make it 9-0 Astros.
”It’s tough to pitch when you’re not getting ahead of hitters,” Billingsley said. ”It’s just one of those days you just have to grind through it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t grind that long. It’s a long season.”
Billingsley experienced tightness in his groin after his previous start Tuesday, but said it wasn’t an issue against the Astros.
”I just couldn’t throw strikes,” he said.
Astros catcher Jason Castro singled off Wright in the fifth to drive in Chris Johnson for the 10-0 lead.
Johnson and Jose Altuve hit RBI singles off Dodgers reliever Mike MacDougal in the eighth to cap the Astros’ scoring.
Juan Rivera’s throwing error allowed Jed Lowrie to reach with one out in the first.
Lowrie came home after Billingsley allowed Lee a two-out, two-run home run, his second of the season, to give the Astros the lead.
Dee Gordon missed a catch in the fourth that allowed Castro to score from third and Rodriguez to reach with no outs on the count and make it 7-0 Houston.
Juan Uribe was guilty of a fielding error in the sixth inning, giving the Dodgers a season-high three errors.
The blowout loss was easier to take for the 12-4 Dodgers because at least it gave the team a chance to rest key players and giving innings to others, Mattingly said.
NOTES: The Dodgers’ 12-4 record is their best start since starting with the same record in 2005. … Schafer’s four RBIs on Sunday were a career high. … Gordon turned 24 on Sunday. … Uribe was in the starting lineup on Sunday after missing the last four games with an injured left wrist. … The Dodgers open a series with Atlanta on Monday and the Astros travel to Milwaukee.