Dodgers Enduring Long and Winding Road

By mattgullette

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Unlike something out of a Willy Nelson song, the Los Angeles Dodgers (7-9) have found no comfort on the road; in fact it’s more like the Highway to Hell.

Adam Dunn homered twice and opposing pitcher Luis Atilano won in his major league debut as the Dodgers dropped another road game tonight to the lowly Washington Nationals (9-8), 1-5, making it the seventh time in ten games the Blue have lost an away game this season.

Despite the fact that Los Angeles is leading the majors in runs scored, Atilano took advantage of a Manny-less Dodger line-up holding them to just one run and five hits over six innings for his first career MLB win. This marks the second straight game that the Dodgers have lost to a starter getting his first major league win–the Reds’ Mike Leake handed it to us last night. It’s sort of like being on the wrong end of beginner’s luck.

I’ve got to give it to the guy, though. The 24-year-old Atilano replaced Jason Marquis in the Nats rotation tonight after coming back from a  potentially career-ending Tommy John surgery in 2006–which has made it a long and winding road to recovery up until tonight.

And speaking of long and winding roads, that’s what it seems like this road trip, and for that matter every road trip, has been for L.A. The Dodgers are giving up an average of 6.3 runs per game on the road and not even knuckballer Charlie Haeger could find the answers tonight against the perennial doormat of the NL East.

Haeger (0-2) threw 5 and 1/3 allowing five hits, four runs (three earned), and two home-runs to Natty’s slugger Adam Dunn who got his 25tth career multi-homer game. Haeger (6.46) has yet to show the kind of stuff that helped the Dodgers down the stretch last year, and had lots of trouble hitting his spots tonight. But as we all know, knuckleballers tend to be hit-or-miss, and apparently Haeger hasn’t been very good at Battleship in ’10.

And with Manny on the 15-day DL with a strained right calf, the Dodgers didn’t do too much hitting themselves. Veteran Garrett Anderson, who started in place of Mannywood, went 0-for-4, and Matt Kemp had his 11-game hit-streak snapped by going hitless in four at-bats. In fact the top-half of the Dodger order only managed only two hits in 20 at-bats (.100).


James Loney scored the lone run for the Dodgers, but Ronnie Belliard, who started at third base tonight, was the gut of the Dodger offense tonight connecting for two of the team’s five hits including a base-on-balls, the third time in three road starts he’s reached base three times.

The Dodgers will have an early start tomorrow as Clayton Kershaw (1-0) takes the mound against Craig Stammen (1-0) at 1:05 EDT.

I think Kershaw will come out on fire tomorrow and shut down this Nationals squad that’s rapidly approaching it’s 10th win of the season (a feat they didn’t reach til the 28th game last year). If Kershaw is to avoid a Dodger three-game skid, he’s definitely gotta cut down on the walks. The left-hander has allowed only six runs in three starts,  but he’s also walked an NL-high 15.

I expect Kershaw to keep his composure and rack up atleast seven K’s tomorrow afternoon as the Dodgers reluctantly make a push for .500, a mountain they haven’t eclipsed all season. Go Blue!

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