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The incredible shrinking Dodgers lose fifth straight, shut out for 16th time in 4-0 loss to Padres

September 8, 2010 | 10:22 pm
They’re caught in a dark, swirling spiral now. Nothing to grab onto, nothing seemingly within their power. A dead-looking team lost in a vortex of losing.

The Dodgers dropped their fifth consecutive game, lost to a pitcher making just his second major league start, lost 4-0 to the Padres on Wednesday night while managing just three hits.

The Dodgers were shut out for the 16th time this season, a major league high, and dropped 11 games back of the Padres in the National League West. They have 22 games remaining.

The Padres’ season was threatening to get away from them, their lead down to one game after losing 10 in a row.

Then the Dodgers came south, and they could hardly do a thing wrong.

The Dodgers lost the opener to an emergency starter, Tim Stauffer, the second game to ace Mat Latos, who was too sick to start the opener, and then Wednesday to rookie Cory Luebke, who spent most of the season at the double-A level.

Chad Billingsley pitched better than his numbers indicated (four runs in 5 1/3 innings), the victim of bunts and miscues, and the Dodgers’ nightly ineptness at the plate.

The Dodgers managed just two hits in the six innings Luebke pitched. They never really came close to scoring, which is becoming a familiar refrain. In their last four games, the Dodgers have scored three  runs total.

The Padres opened the scoring with a run in the third after Dodger second baseman Ryan Theriot double-pumped on a routine grounder by Luis Durango, the speedy outfielder beating the throw for an infield hit.

Durango stole second and scored on single up the middle from Miguel Tejada.

It remained a 1-0 game until the Padres scored three more in the sixth.

Will Venable blooped a hit over shortstop Rafael Furcal, and when Everth Cabrera laid down a perfect bunt, Billingsley had nowhere to go with the throw. That looked good to pinch-hitter David Eckstein, who placed another perfect bunt down for a hit to load the bases.

Durango then sliced a single to left to score two and Adrian Gonzalez drove in one more with a sacrifice fly to center.

That ended the night for Billingsley (11-9), who allowed the four runs on six hits and five walks. He struck out six.

Luebke made his major league debut last week against the Rockies, going five innings and taking a 4-3 loss to the Rockies.

Against L.A., however, the 6-foot-4 left-hander might as well have been Randy Johnson. He walked one and struck out seven in his six shutout innings.

In the eighth inning, the Dodgers had runners at first and second with one out when John Lindsey was announced as a pinch hitter. Lindsey spent 16 years in the minors until being called up Sunday.

When the Padres switched to right-handed reliever Luke Gregerson, Lindsey was called back, his debut put off another day. Andre Ethier then hit his first pitch into an inning-ending double play.

And the spiral continued.

-- Steve Dilbeck