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Dodgers still searching for that fifth element; James McDonald falters as losing streak reaches five in 5-2 loss to Giants

July 19, 2010 | 10:32 pm

Dodgers2_300 Now what are they going to do?

The Dodgers’ never-ending search for a fifth starter led them back to James McDonald on Monday, the results looking a lot like every other attempt.

McDonald pitched five forgettable innings, not exactly completely awful, but definitely not encouraging.

He looked a lot more like the McDonald that started last season in the rotation, going 1-1 with an 8.78 earned-run average than the Dodgers dared to hope.

McDonald gave up four runs on nine hits in his five innings. He pitched a one-two-three first, and then fought trouble each inning afterward, the Giants going on to a 5-2 victory that pushed the Dodgers’ losing streak to five games.

McDonald was the fifth different Dodger to attempt to nail down the No. 5 spot in the rotation. The other four combined to go 13-15 with a 5.93 ERA, so it’s not like McDonald offered any particular improvement.

Only now are the Dodgers stuck with McDonald for at least another start? Can they really afford to shake any fragile major-league confidence he has by quickly returning him to the minors?

Said Manager Joe Torre on McDonald’s start before the game: "We can all tell if he’s comfortable or if he’s erratic. We’ll do whatever we can to help him through this thing. He’s had some success down there (triple-A Albuquerque) and everybody feels that it’s worth a shot right now.’’

Worth a shot Monday, but another in five days?

Alas, the options look familiar.

Rookie Carlos Monasterios, who has started five games, relieved McDonald on Monday and threw two scoreless innings. The inexperienced Monasterios gets tough love from the Dodgers, though, in the starting department.

John Ely, who had some nice success early in the rotation before faltering, has had only one start (seven innings, three runs) since being sent back to Albuquerque.

Then down at Albuquerque are Charlie Haeger -- just saying -- and Claudio Vargas, who was released earlier this season by the Brewers and has been wildly inconsistent (2-3, 5.19 ERA) for the Isotopes.

What to do? Meanwhile, Monday’s loss dropped the Dodgers six games back of the Padres in the National League West standings.

The Dodgers couldn’t do a whole lot with Giants rookie left-hander Madison Bumgarner on Monday.

After San Francisco had taken a 4-0 lead, two coming on Nate Schierholtz’s third home run of the season, Bumgarner held the Dodgers in check until the sixth.

Rafael Furcal continued his hot hitting (.411 since June 15) with a solo home run to lead off the inning, and Matt Kemp’s flyout scored Jamey Carroll.

The Dodgers loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh, but Andre Ethier bounced out to first. They loaded the bases again in the ninth with two outs, and Casey Blake struck out.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers starting pitcher James McDonald had a one-two-three inning in the first before running into trouble against the Giants on Monday night. Credit: Stephen Dunn / Getty Images