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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The fourth spot in the Dodgers rotation appears to be a hazardous position whenever the Dodgers play the Padres, with Chris Capuano, filling in for the injured Zack Greinke, left with a left calf strain in the third inning with a pulled muscle.
The Padres, who came into Dodger Stadium Tuesday having won a total of three games on the young 2013 season – two of them against the Dodgers – beat Los Angeles 9-2, dealing the Dodgers their first three-game losing streak of the season.
The Dodgers felt the sting of the first official missed start of Greinke, with Capuano doing what he can to fill the void. However, the left-hander scarcely made it out of the first inning, giving up five hits and four runs in the inning, including a bases loaded walk to Nick Hundley.
In the second inning, Capuano seemed to pull his calf muscle on his way to cover first base on a Yonder Alonso grounder. Surprisingly, Capuano continued into the third inning, but had to be relieved by Matt Guerrier before retiring any Padres. Capuano is set to have an MRI on Friday.
Matt Kemp had an opportunity to reduce a 5-1 deficit with two runners aboard in the bottom of the third, but struck out swinging at a slider low and away to end the inning. Kemp, who started the season 1-for-19 with runners in scoring position, left the game after his second strikeout, in the sixth inning, having gone 0-for-3. Kemp looked frustrated in the dugout before going into the clubhouse, as Skip Schumaker took over in center field. Adrian Gonzalez would also leave the game.
Kemp seemed to have difficulty throwing from shallow center, with both attempts to throw out a runner at home plate were way off to A.J. Ellis’ left. Strong winds could have played a part, but it is not yet known if Kemp’s inaccuracy was due to his ongoing recovery from off-season shoulder surgery.
With Kemp struggling to begin the season, questions have been raised about his readiness to physically take on the demands of a full season. Dodgers top prospect, Yasiel Puig, is currently batting .389 in AA Chattanooga with a pair of home runs and seven RBIs in 40 plate appearances so far. If Kemp does make the decision to rest, Puig is a likely candidate for center, albeit temporary, along with Schumaker and Jerry Hairston Jr.
Justin Sellers did provide some fireworks in the sixth for a crowd that had grown gravely quiet. With one out and a runner on second, the Padres lead extended to six runs, Sellers made a sensational diving stop at shortstop and got up to make a spot-on throw to first to retire Jesus Guzman.
In the end, the Dodgers went out in a way that perfectly summarizes their current series – by loading the bases and finishing the night on a strikeout by Luis Cruz.
The last-place Padres out-hit the Dodgers 15-4, and moved the Dodgers back to .500 at 7-7.
Left-hander, Ted Lilly, on rehab assignment in Rancho Cucamonga on Tuesday night, struck out five batters in five innings. It had been reported earlier in the week that Lilly was at ends with the Dodgers, and his status with the club for the near future is still in question, although he now looks like a possible starter to fill in the fourth rotation spot to try to stop the bleeding.
Manager Don Mattingly spoke on the possibility of Lilly’s return to the rotation after the game.
“At least we’re in the position that we do have a guy like Ted (Lilly), whose been working his way back and gaining arm strength,” Mattingly said. “He pitched tonight [in a rehab assignment], so we’re fortunate that we have an excess of starters.”
The young 2013 season has plagued the Dodgers thus far with key injures, and the club has lost 5 of their last 6 games. However, fans can rely on the reassuring fact that the season is far from being decided, and the pockets of the new ownership provide the tools to step in where needed.