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Dodgers not panicking over struggles vs. Giants

LOS ANGELES -- Another disappointing loss for the Dodgers on Saturday against the Giants shrunk their lead in the National League West to a mere half-game.

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The Dodgers are 2-9 against their rivals from the Bay Area and 5-17 against teams over .500 this season after Saturday's 6-2 loss to the Giants.

To be fair, the Dodgers are 7-2 against the 33-34 D-backs and 2-1 against the 34-35 Braves.

But against the Giants and Cardinals, who combined have won the last five National League pennants and four of the last five World Series, the Dodgers are 4-14 this season. Amid the struggles, the company line around the clubhouse is that the individual record against the Giants doesn't matter.

"I'm not frustrated. I could care less if we're 0-20," catcher Yasmani Grandal said. "I don't really care. You have to play still 90 games."

Losing the season series doesn't spell a death sentence and winning it doesn't guarantee postseason success. The Dodgers were a combined 14-12 against the two teams last year only to bow out in the National League Division Series to the Cardinals.

"At this point, with a half-game lead in the division, they've gained seven games on us in games they've played us," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "That's something we have to change. At the end, it's all about us winning the division."

The Dodgers' pitching staff has held up against quality competition -- its team ERA is actually better against teams over .500, 3.36 to 3.38. But the Dodgers' offense, one of the league's most potent units in April, has suffered against quality opponents. Los Angeles is hitting .218 and averaging 2.18 runs per game against winning teams compared to .273 and 5.19 runs per game against sub-.500 teams.

The Dodgers are 12-14 in their last 26 games, but have remained in first place through their slump in June. The team has been in first place in the division for all but nine days this season.

"We haven't been playing good baseball at all but we're still in first place so that's something to keep our heads up about," Adrian Gonzalez said. "Nobody goes back after you win the division and asks, 'Who did you beat? Who did you lose to?' because once you get in the playoffs, it's about beating the team in front of you."

With a loss Sunday, the Dodgers would fall out of first place for the first time since May 29 and would guarantee a losing record this season against the Giants. But for Los Angeles, a season series isn't the goal; the Dodgers have their sights set on bigger goals.

"We're going to have to win a lot of games to get where we want to go," Mattingly said. "It makes sense that it's probably going to go through those guys. We're going to have to figure out a way to get it done."

Steve Bourbon is an associate reporter for
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