Dodger Bullpen ‘Seeing Red Again’

Chad Billingsley struggled in his third outing of the season giving up seven runs in just three innings, and the Dodgers (6-7) failed to capitalize on a late rally dropping the first of the series to the Cincinnati Reds (6-8), 9-11.

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How does a baseball team still manage to stay below .500 despite having one of the most explosive offenses in the league? Pitching, or a lack thereof.

This time the Dodgers tried but couldn’t quite rebound from Billingsley’s latest meltdown. After giving up seven hits and four earned, most of which came in a six-run second inning, Los Angeles erased a six-run Reds’ lead late in the ballgame, but the struggling Dodger bullpen couldn’t come through in the clutch…again.

The Reds jumped out to what seemed like an insurmountable 9-3 lead when Matt Kemp and the Dodger offense came back in waves. After a lead-off double by Ronnie Belliard, Rafael Furcal singled in a run in the eighth and Kemp cleared the bases with a three-run shot to center which tied the ballgame, completing obliterating a six-run deficit. The home-run was Kemps his sixth of the season, all of which have come in the last nine games.

The tie lasted all of three batters as the Dodgers’ bullpen continues to lose games in the late innings. Ramon Troncoso (1-1) came in the game and quickly gave two of those runs right back to the Reds, which ended up being the difference in the game. After Troncoso walked two, Cincinnati’s Paul Janish singled home the tiebreaking run, and the Reds broke their five-game losing streak to a Dodger team that just haven’t found the answers on the road.

I guess the Reds were just due.

But when you’re losing games despite having plated nine runs, it be a little nauseating to watch. Casey Blake led the Dodger hitting with two extra-base hits and four RBI while the 6-7-8 portion of the batting order (Blake, DeWitt, Martin) all managed to go 2-for-5. However, it’s pitching that’s the problem for Los Angeles, both starting and relief pitching. When the starting rotation can’t seem to go past the sixth inning and the bullpen struggles to get out of jams late in the ballgame it’s a recipe for disaster. Something’s got to give, and until they find the right chemistry it’s going to continue to be a roller coaster season.

In a move to patch up their bleeding bullpen, the Dodgers activated pitcher Ronald Belisario for tonight’s game against Cincinatti. Last season Belisario pitched an impressive 2.04 ERA in 70 1/3 innings in his rookie season, but he was placed on the restricted list of the Dodgers’ roster this off-season after missing most of spring training when he couldn’t acquire a visa from his native Venezuela.

Hiroki Kuroda (1-0) gets his third start of the season tonight against Aaron Harang (0-2), who gets my vote for ugliest soul patch in the National League (considering that Scott Spiezio is no longer playing). The Dodgers hope to get some help from their bullpen and hopefully take a game on the road (they have lost five of seven on the road so far this season).

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