Padres 6, Dodgers 4

Some players bristle when you approach them after a loss to ask about a play they might have been involved in that might have cost the team the game. Tonight, there were two such players for the Dodgers, center fielder Juan Pierre and reliever Rudy Seanez, and, as we all expected, they both handled themselves with complete class. These are two of the most professional, standup guys around, guys who understand the reason we approach them after such games is to be fair to them, to give them a chance to tell their side of what happened. Pierre, who lost Khalil Greene’s first-inning popup against the low cloud cover above the stadium and allowed it to drop several feet behind him, said, “I take full responsibility for this loss. I have to try to make that play.” Of course, there were about a hundred reasons why the Dodgers lost this game, and no matter how much he tries to take full responsibility, Pierre’s gaffe was only one of them. Seanez came on to start the sixth inning and promptly hit the first batter he faced, Adrian Gonzalez, who came around to score the tiebreaking and eventual winning run. Afterward, Seanez said this: “That was the game.” Of course, it wasn’t the game. Not by itself, anyway. Not on a night when the Dodgers had 12 hits — including 10 off one pitcher — and only scored four runs. … Dodgers fall to 70-64 and remain four back in the NL West, but they also fall to four back in the wild card.

Tomorrow’s notebook

The Wolf saga in more detail and a couple of other things

By Tony Jackson
Staff Writer
SAN DIEGO — Dodgers pitcher Randy Wolf’s last-ditch effort to return from the disabled list before the end of the season has been snuffed out by another setback. The left-hander felt more discomfort in his shoulder this week and will undergo arthroscopic surgery on Wednesday at the Kerlan-Jobe clinic to determine the cause.
The development casts Wolf’s future into doubt, especially given that he spurned a handful of multi-year offers last winter to accept a one-year contract with his hometown Dodgers.
“Obviously, I took a huge risk to come here,” Wolf said. “I knew it was a risk, but I took a gamble, and I lost. Life is full of them.”
The Dodgers hold a $9 million option on Wolf for next season that they clearly aren’t going to exercise, which will leave him in the unenviable position of being a free agent after a season in which injury prevented him from pitching after the All-Star break. But Wolf also is a veteran lefty with a proven track record, so there is a strong chance some team — perhaps even the Dodgers — will take a chance on him at a much lower price.
“I really have no idea,” Wolf said. “I’m in unchartered waters.”
Wolf had reconstructive elbow surgery two seasons ago, but proved he was healthy last summer when he came back and pitched well in 12 starts for Philadelphia. But before he had that surgery, he had undergone an MRI exam that failed to show the need for it, so for a while he tried to pitch through his elbow discomfort. Wolf speculated that his current shoulder injury might be the result of a mechanical change he made to accommodate the elbow pain before it was discovered that he would need Tommy John surgery.
If Drs. Lewis Yocum and Neal ElAttrache find the cause of Wolf’s discomfort, they will repair it immediately. But no prognosis for Wolf’s return to the mound will be known until after the surgery.
“If it’s only an impingement, which we think it is, he’ll be down six to eight weeks,” Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said.
Wolf was less optimistic.
“If they find nothing, I’ll be surprised,” he said. “It’s just too weird. I haven’t thrown (off a mound) in four weeks, and it still isn’t right. Usually you feel better after four weeks of not throwing.”

Getting close: Dodgers manager Grady Little said that although Nomar Garciaparra (strained left calf) still hasn’t felt good enough to try running, he has looked good enough in batting practice that he might be activated for pinch-hitting purposes as soon as today, when active rosters can be expanded to as many as 40 players.
“He really looks good swinging the bat and fielding ground balls, too,” Little said. “But he still feels a little something in there (running), and we don’t want to push it until he feels comfortable.”

Also: Newly acquired right-hander Esteban Loaiza will make his Dodgers debut on Monday at Chicago, with Brad Penny starting on Tuesday night against the Cubs and the rest of the rotation staying in order thereafter. … Lefty Eric Stults was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas to clear a roster spot for Loaiza, but Stults is expected to return to the majors after the 51s’ season concludes on Monday … The Dodgers are expected to promote some players from Las Vegas today and some more on Monday. If Double-A Jacksonville reaches the Southern Leaue playoffs, none of the Suns’ players will be promoted until their season ends.

Wolf to have arthroscopic surgery

Randy Wolf experienced more pain when he started throwing harder while playing catch. He’ll have a diagnostic arthroscopic procedure on Thursday at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic just to get a more up-close look than what the two MRIs could show. If they find nothing, he will be out six to eight weeks, which knocks him out for the season. If they find something, they’ll fix it, and he could be out six to nine months. Stan Conte said they don’t think there is anything seriously wrong, but Randy Wolf didn’t seem so optimistic. This might or might not mean he is done with the Dodgers, but the club clearly isn’t picking up his $9 million option for next year. … The move to clear a roster spot for Esteban Loaiza looks like it will go right down to the 9 p.m. deadline. It’s going to be Eric Stults unless another trade is made or somebody gets hurt, so stay tuned.

No Japanese opener

I learned earlier today that the Dodgers will NOT open the 2008 season in Japan. Not terribly surprising, given that the only lobbying they did for it was a casual comment that Frank McCourt happened to make to Bud Selig when the commish was visiting Dodger Stadium a few weeks ago. … Jack Cassel will be recalled from Triple-A Portland tomorrow and start for the Pods against David Wells. … Best wishes to Rai Henniger, a senior VP with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox of the Pacific Coast League, whom I remember from when I covered that team back in the mid-90s. Rai suffered multiple head injuries and lost an eye in an explosion when he was helping set up for an on-field fireworks display on May 12. He is now out of the hospital, and while my buddy Bob Stephens of the Colorado Springs Gazette reported earlier this week that Rai still faces a long road back that will include numerous surgeries, it’s good to know he’s going to recover. This was a very bad thing that happened to a very good guy, but it has turned into an inspirational story. I also read that Rai is hoping to return to work for the club, which is a great sign. … That’s it for today. Heading to San Diego in the morning. I’ll check in when I get there.

Dodgers 10, Nats 9

Shea Hillenbrand came through with the sac fly with the bases loaded in the 12th. A good throw by Austin Kearns might have gotten Jeff Kent at the plate, but it was to the opposite side, and Jesus Flores couldn’t get the tag down. Kent went 4 for 5, Loney wnet 2 for 5 with four RBI, and Hillenbrand went 2 for 4 with three RBI. But the hero was Scott Proctor, who pitched three shutout innings, giving up a hit and a walk, and the last pitch he threw induced a HUGE GIDP from Robert Fick to end the top of the 12th after runners were on the corners with one out, and Proctor got the win after the Dodgers rallied. … Dodgers improve to 70-63. D-backs and Pods play at Petco tonight. If the Pods win, they’ll be tied for first with the D-backs, and the Dodgers will be just 3 1/2 back, with a three-game series of their own at Petco on tap beginning Friday. This thing is a long, long way from being over.

Loaiza starts Tuesday at Cubs

He’ll take Stults’ spot in the rotation. The roster move has to be made by Friday for Loaiza to be eligible for the playoffs (Hey, it could still happen). My guess is they’ll option Stults because they could then recall him 10 days later, by which time the roster will have expanded to a 40-man max. By the way, Grady said they will recall some players on Saturday (Sept. 1), some others on Tuesday after the minor-league regular season ends on Monday and then, if Jacksonville makes the Southern League playoffs, possibly more players from the Suns when that playoff run ends.

Here’s the lineup for today’s game

SS Furcal
CF Pierre
RF Kemp
2B Kent
LF Gonzo
C Martin
1B Loney
3B Hillenbrand
RH Penny

Dodgers claim Loaiza

The Dodgers just claimed Esteban Loaiza off waivers from Oakland, and this is a significant pickup. The veteran right-hander is a two-time All-Star, and he is signed through next season with a club option for 2009, so he figures to be in the Dodgers’ starting rotation through next season. He has a three-year, $21.375M contract, which means the Dodgers will be on the hook for about $8.5M even if they don’t pick up the option. Loaiza missed the first 4 1/2 months of the season with the A’s because of injuries, first a bulging disk and later surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, but he was solid in the two starts he made since coming back, both of them against Toronto. He pitched a total of 14 2/3 innings, giving up just three earned runs on 10 hits. No word as to when he will start for the Dodgers, but his last start was on Monday night, so my guess is he’ll be slotted somewhere into the San Diego series, possibly on Saturday night to give Lowe and Billingsley an extra day of rest. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers moved Jason Repko to the 60-day DL. There won’t be a 25-man move until he shows up on Friday.

Dodgers 4, Nats 3

The boys scratched out a run on a sac fly by Ethier in the seventh inning, and Broxton and Saito set down the final six in a row, getting a win for Billingsley. Billingsley improved to 9-4, and for all the criticism this guy has taken for deep counts, high pitch totals and short outings, he has really had a pretty good first full season in the bigs. Saito, who has been as good these past few appearances as he has been in the two years he has been here, got his 36th save, moving him past Todd Worrell for the sixth-highest single-season total in franchise history, and he tied Charlie Hough for ninth place on the career franchise list with 60. He has now converted 13 save opportunities in a row and has allowed just one run in 12 1/3 innings this month. Dodgers go to 69-63 and pick up a game in the division because the Pods beat the Snakes. Dodgers are now 4 1/2 behind the Snakes and 3 1/2 behind the Pods. As for the wild card, still 3 1/2 behind the Pods and half a game behind the Phils.

Kent passes Mr. Coffee

Jeff Kent hit his 362nd career home run, moving him into a tie with Jason Giambi for 65th place on the all-time list and pst Joe DiMaggio. But Billingsley is just sort of muddling through. He is falling behind in a lot of counts, like he usually does. But he has gotten out of a couple of tight spots, including getting Ronnie Belliard to pop up with the bases loaded to end the first after Bills had hit the previous two batters and getting Austin Kearns to GIDP with runners on first and second to end the third. … Dodgers 3, Nationals 2, middle 4

Game time updates

Fox has picked up the Sept. 15 game at AZ, so it’s now a 12:55 PDT start. Meanwhile, the Sept. 29 home game with the Giants will be at 7:10 p.m. No, that is NOT because Fox has given up on the Dodgers for that final weekend of the regular season. It’s because, according to a Dodgers spokesman, Fox had reached its limit on Dodgers broadcasts. … Billingsley is struggling through the first inning. A run already in on Dmitri Young’s RBI double, and Bills just hit Austin Kearns. Church up now, first and second and two outs. … Nationals 1, Dodgers 0, top 1