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As season unfolds, are the Dodgers beginning to give up?

July 23, 2011 |  6:02 am

Photo: Los Angeles Dodgers' Hiroki Kuroda walks back to the dugout after the fist inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals in L.A. on July 22, 2011. Credit: Chris Pizzello / AP This is what happens when a team’s downward spiral continues, game after game. When the results are too familiar, when the offense is perpetually limp and the losses mount.

You start to wonder. Wonder if they’ve lost their edge, if subconsciously they have given up.

All season long, despite everything, Manager Don Mattingly has correctly stated that the Dodgers have continued to play hard, that he remained proud of their effort.

Only now, the Dodgers are showing the first signs of a beaten team. A team that clearly doesn’t have enough weapons, knows ownership is not committed to winning and was never going to bring in that extra star.

The weak at-bats look like an epidemic, player after player. The fire dimmed to a mere spark.

Mattingly remains convinced his team is still playing hard, that the growing level of frustration has not seeped like a virus into their effort.

"Not so much,’’ Mattingly said. "Obviously when you don’t play very well and attack over a period of time, you see frustration. I think the losses are frustrating because you keep going and keep asking guys to be ready to go, and don’t put wins together, it’s frustrating.’’

The Dodgers are 43-56, in last place in the National League West and 13½ games back.

And there’s no cavalry riding to the rescue. No superstar coming off the disabled list or from another team.

There are over two months of the season still to go. Even Mattingly admits to concern that resignation could envelop the team.

"Definitely,’’ he said. "Definitely.’’

Yet there is only so much he can control.

"We can control the way we go about our business,’’ he said. "There’s really only one way to play the game. The score doesn’t really matter, the situation in the race doesn’t matter. It may affect you, but that’s the battle.’’

More and more, however, it threatens to be a losing battle. Individually and collectively, the Dodgers’ hitters fail. They are starting to look like they no longer believe. And who can blame them?

Rod Barajas is 0-for-12 since coming off the disabled list with a sprained ankle. Jamey Carroll is in a 1-for-21 slump. Rafael Furcal is 2-for-23 in the second half and batting .165 on the season. James Loney is in a 2-for-14 skid. Juan Uribe has four hits in his last 27 at-bats, is batting .202 on the season and has hit one home run in almost three months.

On it goes. Even All-Stars Matt Kemp (.186 since June 27 with 24 strikeouts in 70 at-bats) and Andre Ethier (.135 since July 6) now look lost.

And now in the back of their minds, without their even really being aware of it, you wonder if they’ve packed it in.

-- Steve Dilbeck