Dodgers continue to slide with loss to Phillies

BY foxsports • July 16, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly left the ballpark still unsure who his starting pitcher would be for the second game of a series against the Phillies.

Chad Billingsley's elbow injury forced both Chris Capuano and Nathan Eovaldi to be moved up a day in the rotation. Capuano lost Sunday against San Diego when the Dodgers made five errors and allowed six unearned runs in a 7-2 defeat. One night later, Eovaldi gave up home runs to Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins in a 3-2 loss to Philadelphia.

Eovaldi (1-6) allowed three runs and six hits in five innings Monday before he was removed for a pinch-hitter. The 22-year-old right-hander also gave up an RBI single by former Dodger Juan Pierre in the second as Los Angeles lost to the Phillies for the sixth straight time at home after sweeping a four-game series in Philadelphia during the first week of June.

Rollins made it 2-0 in the third, driving a 3-2 pitch into the left-field pavilion for his ninth homer.

"I left it over the plate," Eovaldi said. "I've been falling behind too often. I fall behind too many times, it's a predictable count. Even when I was ahead, I didn't put the batters away as quickly as I should."

Howard, who flied out to the left-field warning track his first time up, homered to left on Eovaldi's first pitch of the fourth to make it 3-0.

"I didn't know if the first one would go out," Howard said. "I just tried to make some solid contact, but I flew out at the warning track, so I knew we weren't in Colorado anymore. I just tried to come up my next AB and make something happen."

Howard, the 2006 NL MVP who averaged 132.7 RBIs over the previous six seasons and led the NL three times with 140 or more, missed Philadelphia's first 84 games because of the ruptured left Achilles tendon he sustained while grounding out to end last year's NL division series against St. Louis. His leadoff homer in the fourth was his first RBI in six games and 18 at-bats since coming off the disabled list.

"It was definitely big, and it was something that was very meaningful today because we won," Howard said. "I feel good. Now it's just a matter of getting back into the flow of playing at this level, making adjustments and slowing myself down at times. Sometimes I get to be too quick."

Joe Blanton (8-8) allowed two runs and six hits, struck out seven and walked none in eight innings while helping the Phillies win three straight games for the first time since a four-game stretch May 23-26. The right-hander did not give up a home run for the first time since May 8 against the New York Mets, after 11 consecutive starts in which he allowed at least one for a total of 19 overall.

The Dodgers have the second-fewest homers in the majors, just one more than San Francisco.

"Keeping the ball down was a big difference. Lately I've had a little bit of trouble doing that as consistently as I did tonight," said Blanton, who threw 80 of 110 pitches for strikes. "I try to throw as many strikes as I can and expand the zone a little bit when I get ahead in the count."

Juan Rivera led off the seventh with a single and scored on Blanton's two-out wild pitch. But Jonathan Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth in his Dodger Stadium debut, retiring pinch-hitter Adam Kennedy on an easy popup with a runner at third for his 20th save in 22 attempts.

Pierre, who spent three seasons with the Dodgers and was pushed out of a starting role in 2008 after the acquisition of Manny Ramirez, is hitting .316 with 19 RBIs in 76 games for the Phillies, his second team since leaving Los Angeles in a December 2009 trade that sent him to the Chicago White Sox.

"I felt like I could go out there and help the team every day, but I wasn't oblivious to what was going on," Pierre said. "I mean, you had Matt Kemp, who was a monster. You had Andre Ethier, who was a monster. And Manny was Manny. So I was just the odd-man out, and that's just the way it worked out.

"It was a trying time. While I was going through it, I did get a little bitter the first year or so. But then I realized that starting wasn't everything, and I could still help the team by coming off the bench. We went to the playoffs twice, and both times against the Phillies. So I've come full circle. As crazy as it may sound, I wouldn't give those three years back because it made me who I am today. The whole Dodger experience made me a better person. I grew up a lot out here."

NOTES: The loss was the Dodgers' 900th against Philadelphia during the regular season since the rivalry began back in 1890. They have beaten the Phillies 1,144 times. They've also met in the postseason five times, with the Dodgers beating them in the NL championship series in 1977 and 1978, and the Phillies winning the NLCS in 1983, 2008 and 2009. ... Blanton is 7-0 with a 2.05 ERA in eight starts this season when pitching seven or more innings. In his other 10 starts, he is 1-8 with a 7.67 ERA.