Furcal has lower back tightness and is day to day, but he’ll miss tonight’s game. Another big blow to the Dodgers, who are offering fewer and fewer reasons to keep believing. Anyway …
By Tony Jackson
DENVER — The Dodgers got another step closer to the edge of the cliff this afternoon, plodding their way to a 3-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies in the first game of a split doubleheader at Coors Field. But that wasn’t where the bad news ended.
Shortstop Rafael Furcal, one of four players manager Grady Little had intended to write into the starting lineup of both games, left after six innings with tightness in his lower back. Furcal has battled a sore left ankle all season, but has no history of back problems.
Little said Furcal, who won’t be available for tonight’s game, hurt himself sliding into a base over the weekend.
“He is a guy who has played through a lot of aches and pains,” Little said. “But this just got too bad for him to take later in the game.”
Furcal is listed as day to day. If he misses significant time, it will be an even bigger dent in the Dodgers’ already-fading playoff hopes. They began the day trailing Arizona by four games in the National League West and San Diego by three in the wildcard standings, with both of those clubs scheduled to play later. Philadelphia, just 1 1/2 behind the Padres in the wild card, also plays tonight.
The Dodgers (79-71) now lead the fourth-place Rockies by just a game the division.
Chad Billingsley (11-5) started strong, facing the minimum through the first three innings, but he later said he never felt comfortable. He gave up just four hits and struck out six, but he also walked three batters (one intentionally) and was lifted after throwing 102 pitches in 5 1/3 innings. He lost for the first time since Aug. 13.
“I didn’t feel like I had my good fastball,” Billingsley said. “I was just trying to make good, quality pitches down in the zone and trying to get ground balls, but it just didn’t happen. I just went out there and battled to try to get outs as quickly as possible, but they laid off some good pitches and made me get deep in counts.”
The Dodgers’ only run came on a pinch-hit home run by Olmedo Saenz in the seventh inning, his first homer since a walkoff shot on June 8 vs. Toronto. The Rockies got leadoff doubles by Cory Sullivan in both the fourth and sixth innings, with Sullivan scoring each time, and put the game away on Joe Koshansky’s RBI double off Scott Proctor in the seventh.
The Dodgers went hitless in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position, and left-hander Jeff Francis (16-8), despite leaving with two outs in the seventh inning, became the first Rockies pitcher in more than four years to post 10 strikeouts in a game.
“His changeup was outstanding,” Little said. “That was the difference maker.”
Manuel Corpas pitched a perfect ninth for his 15th save. LaTroy Hawkins, Brian Fuentes and Corpas combined to retire the final seven Dodgers batters in order.