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Ramon Troncoso looks like another lost reliever in Dodgers' 9-3 loss to Braves

June 5, 2010 | 10:56 pm


And now for the mysterious case of Ramon Troncoso.

So very good one moment, so incredibly bad the next.Troncoso started off the year like he was going to take a major leap from last season, when he picked up an impressive six saves and posted a 2.72 earned-run average.

He was everything he’s struggled to be since. A consistent groundball pitcher. A reliable right-hander from the bullpen. After his first six games, he had a 1.59 ERA.

He’ll have a game or two now when you think he can still be that guy, but they’re becoming increasingly rare.

His ERA over his last 11 games is a staggering 8.91. Now he’s become dangerously unreliable.

He was at it again Saturday, almost single-handedly turning a one-run Dodgers lead into a painful 9-3 loss.

Chad Billingsley again had been pitching well, but when he surrendered three consecutive singles and a run to open the seventh inning, Manager Joe Torre took him out in favor of Troncoso.

Billingsley had thrown 110 pitches.

Troncoso then proceded to throw the game away. Martin Prado sat down a bunt for a sacrifice that would prove to be the only out Troncoso could claim.

Omar Infante, starting a third for the injured Chipper Jones, had only 11 RBI all season but proceeded to line a two-run single to left to give Atlanta a 3-2 lead.

Troncoso followed that up by walking Jason Heyward, who has struggled the entire series (1 for 12), and then gave up two-run double to Brian McCann.

Which mercifully ended the night for Troncoso, though not his damage done. Ronald Belisario took over and immediately surrendered a two-run homer to Troy Glaus. It was as 7-2 Atlanta blowout.

The Dodgers’ bullpen came into the night on a tremendous roll, having not allowing an earned run in 22 1/3 innings. Then the bad Troncoso showed up.

What to do?

Troncoso, 27, was probably being used too much early -- his 29 games ties him for second in the major leagues -- but Torre backed off the last month. He pitched in back-to-back games in only one three-game stretch in May.

With George "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" Sherrill already an unexplainable mess after his superlative 2009, the Dodgers can hardly afford to have another reliever mysteriously go south.

Right now, though, it’s what they have.

--Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers reliever Ramon Troncoso is shown pitching against the Astros last month. Credit: Kirby Lee / US Presswire