Bullpen struggles late in Dodgers' loss to Birds
Belisario's troubles continue in rough eighth inning
BALTIMORE -- Fresh surroundings didn't help the Dodgers on Saturday, as their losing streak reached five with a 7-5 Interleague defeat to the Orioles in the first game of a split doubleheader after Friday night's rainout.
Dodgers starter Hyun-Jin Ryu allowed home runs to J.J. Hardy and Nolan Reimold that countered a three-run shot by Andre Ethier, as Ryu allowed a 3-0 first-inning lead to gradually evaporate.
The game was decided in the bottom of the eighth against the Dodgers bullpen, with Paco Rodriguez getting the loss and Ronald Belisario allowing the tie-breaking two-run double to Reimold. Belisario has allowed all six runners he inherited to score this season.
"I feel fine. It's bad luck," said Belisario. "I'm in a slump, like everybody gets [into]. I'll be out of this soon."
While the offensive struggles are well documented -- the Dodgers are now 1-for-21 with the bases loaded -- the team hasn't been the same since Zack Greinke was injured in the San Diego fracas on April 11, going 1-6. Since April 7, the Dodgers bullpen has a 6.14 ERA.
Manager Don Mattingly admitted he's "a little concerned" with Belisario, whose pitches are moving sideways instead of sinking. Mattingly has constructed his bullpen backwards -- with Kenley Jansen and Belisario counted on to get the ball to closer Brandon League.
"It's a little frustrating," said Mattingly. "He has to get it straightened out. But we've got to keep showing confidence in Beli, while giving other guys a chance. At this point, we're not going to shelve him."
This game unraveled in the eighth inning, after Jansen had retired the top four batters in Baltimore's order with an overpowering cutter that touched 95 mph.
But with the score tied at 5, with one out and nobody on in the eighth and the left-handed Chris Davis having already singled and doubled off the left-handed Ryu, Mattingly said the situation called for another left-hander. Paco Rodriguez faced Davis and allowed a double off the center-field fence on an 0-2 pitch.
Mattingly brought on Belisario, who walked Hardy on four pitches. Nate McLouth pinch-hit for Steve Pearce. Before the at-bat, backup catcher Ramon Hernandez switched gloves, and on the next pitch, he failed to catch a sinker and the runners advanced on the passed ball. With first base now open, McLouth was walked intentionally to load the bases for Reimold, who doubled home a pair.
Pitching in front of a Camden Yards crowd with a loud Korean contingent, Ryu was roughed up for five runs over six innings and two homers on pitches over the middle.
"Both missed pitches," Ryu said. "Both were higher than I wanted to throw."
Ryu said he threw more curveballs than usual in the earlier innings. Reimold's homer was on a changeup, Hardy's on an 87-mph fastball.
"Maybe that affected my changeup later in the game," Ryu said of the curveballs. "I just consider this a learning experience."
Ryu wouldn't use the rainout as an excuse -- he was pitching on six days' rest as he sometimes did in South Korea.
"That would be an excuse to say it affected me," Ryu said. "The team supplied me with five runs, and I couldn't keep them down. That's on my part."
Ethier gave a lift to the Dodgers' anemic average with runners in scoring position by blasting Jason Hammel's first pitch to him for his second home run -- a three-run shot that doubled his RBI output. That cashed in one-out singles by Mark Ellis and Matt Kemp.
The Dodgers added a run in the second inning. Justin Sellers singled with one out and took third when Carl Crawford doubled to left, just off the glove of a diving Reimold. Sellers scored on Ellis' sacrifice fly.
"But from there, they did a nice job of shutting us down," said Mattingly. "Hammel was out after five, but we've got to continue on. We've got to be able to do more after running him out of there."
Baltimore answered in the bottom of the second with a two-run homer by Hardy, and added to it with two out in the fourth on a solo homer by Reimold.
The Dodgers could have given Ryu breathing room in the fifth, when they loaded the bases on a one-out double by Ellis, Kemp's infield single that put runners on the corners, Kemp's steal of second base and a two-out intentional walk to Ethier. But Hernandez struck out on a foul tip.
After an easy fifth inning, Ryu was back in trouble in the sixth. Matt Wieters singled, and Davis doubled him to third. Hardy's sacrifice fly tied the score and Pearce's RBI single gave Baltimore its first lead, 5-4.
Pedro Strop took over for Hammel, and the Dodgers quickly tied the game on a walk by Ellis, a broken-bat single by Kemp that put runners on the corners and a wild pitch that scored Ellis. An intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez loaded the bases with Ethier coming to the plate. But reliever Brian Matusz struck out him and got Hernandez on a flyout.