Dan Haren has a curious explanation for why he’s better late in games.

Dan Haren

Dan Haren allowed six hits and four runs Tuesday, all in the first four innings. (Getty Images)

Dan Haren has some unusual pitching splits this season, and an unconventional explanation to go with it.

Opponents were hitting .299 against Haren the first two times through the batting order prior to Tuesday night’s 4-1 loss. His performance against the Chicago White Sox was true to form. Chicago scored all its runs the first two times through the order against Haren, batting .294 until the lineup turned over again.

Haren only allowed one hit after that. The White Sox went 1-for-7 in the fifth and sixth innings against Haren. That was likewise true to form; opponents were hitting .222 against him the third time through the order prior to Tuesday.

So, what gives?

“The velocity is kind of up and down for me. I thrown it a little bit harder (recently), which might be a bad thing actually. As the game went along today I backed off a little bit and got a lot of ground balls. That’s something I’ve got to look at, what my ball is doing at what velocities because it might be better for me to back off.”

Haren agreed that he typically gets less movement the harder he throws.

“That’s what I’m going to be looking at. I’ve just got to figure it out. It’s been a few starts now where it’s kind of been the same story. I can’t keep going like this. Something’s got to change.”

Haren hasn’t won since May 12 against the Miami Marlins, a span of four starts. Wins and losses are famously fickle, but the 33-year-old veteran confessed it’s getting frustrating. Though he had a fairly consistent month of May, Haren has seen his ERA rise from 2.03 in April to 3.50 after Tuesday’s loss:

We’ll check back with Haren to see what he gleans from the next video session.

Chicago White Sox 5, Dodgers 4: Clayton Kershaw stumbles to the finish line.

Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw gave up five runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings in his final Cactus League start. (Getty Images)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — A rough sixth inning ended Clayton Kershaw’s preseason and lifted the White Sox to a 5-4 victory over the Dodgers in the second game of a doubleheader at Camelback Ranch.

Avisail Garcia unloaded on a Kershaw slider, launching it just right of the center-field wall for a three-run home run. The longball followed singles by Jose Abreu and Marcus Semien and ended Kershaw’s night around the 80-pitch mark.

“It wasn’t great,” Kershaw said of his final Cactus League tuneup. “There was some improvement in the middle innings. Obviously that home run didn’t help but, you know, that’s part of it.”

The left-hander finishes baseball’s preseason with a 9.20 earned-run average in 14 ⅔ innings.

The Dodgers conclude the Cactus League season tomorrow at 1 p.m. against the Colorado Rockies.
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Report: Chicago White Sox sign former Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario for one year, $3 million.

Ronald BelisarioAccording to the Chicago Tribune, Ronald Belisario is leaving Los Angeles to sign a one-year, $3 million contract with the White Sox.

Belisario, who is eligible for arbitration, was not tendered before the 9 p.m. Monday deadline. The right-hander led the Dodgers in appearances in 2013, posting a 3.97 earned-run average in 77 games.

Earlier Thursday, the Dodgers agreed to terms on a one-year contract with right-hander Brian Wilson.

The Tribune reported that Belisario’s contract will become official once he passes a physical.

Dodgers’ Zack Greinke, a pessimist, isn’t thinking about his first start.

Wearing the same stoic expression he used to retire six of the seven batters he faced Sunday, Zack Greinke explained his approach toward spring training games in the Dodgers’ clubhouse. Zack Greinke

“I try to not pay any attention to the results,” Greinke said. “If you’re getting hit pretty hard then you have to think about it a little bit. I don’t take anything positive from it. I guess you only take the negative out, for the most part.”

It seems Greinke won’t spend much time thinking about his first appearance in a Dodgers uniform. He threw two scoreless innings that followed the script almost perfectly. Greinke tossed 11 pitches, all for strikes.

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Hyun-Jin Ryu reflects on his Dodgers debut.

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s clubhouse demeanor after his first appearance in a Dodgers uniform was much the same as it was before: Even-keeled with a dose of humor.

Ryu threw a scoreless third inning against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch. He got Blake Tekotte to ground out on a ball hit slowly back to the mound. He struck out Gordon Beckham on a changeup. He allowed a triple to DeWayne Wise that sliced into the right-field corner, then got Jeff Keppinger to fly out to left field to end the inning.

“My goal honestly was not to walk anybody today,” Ryu said. “I guess I succeeded.”

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For now, Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez has timing, confidence.

Hanley Ramirez

Maybe Hanley Ramirez was right when he said that getting game experience at shortstop in the Winter League isn’t as valuable as practicing before the game begins.

Ramirez got a chance to validate his self-confidence in the second inning Saturday. The first batter, Dayan Viciedo, hit a ground ball up the middle. Ramirez ranged to his left, fielded the ball cleanly, then spun and threw Viciedo out.

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If Dodgers pitcher Matt Magill had butterflies in his stomach Saturday, they didn’t show.

Matt Magill had never pitched in a spring training game before Saturday, but you wouldn’t have known that by the results: Matt Magill headHe and non-roster invitee Mark Lowe were the only two pitchers that didn’t allow a run in the Dodgers’ 9-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

Magill entered the game with two outs in the seventh inning. He quickly surrendered an infield single when shortstop Dee Gordon couldn’t pick a hard grounder off his backhand, allowing a run to score (it was charged to Kelvin De La Cruz). Magill then struck out the next three batters he faced and induced a fly ball to end the eighth inning — the only 1-2-3 inning defensively for the Dodgers.

That doesn’t always mean much in spring training, but it was a good sign that Magill was calm. For the 23-year-old from Simi Valley, that was one of two keys.

“Just go out and work on my fastball command,” he said, “and work on not getting too hyped up for the first big-league experience.”

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Clayton Kershaw allows two runs in two innings in spring training debut.

Clayton Kershaw

In one sense, Clayton Kershaw seemed like the same pitcher who has won back-to-back National League ERA titles on Saturday: He was his own harshest critic.

Kershaw allowed four hits, including an Armando Rios double, and two earned runs in his two-inning Cactus League debut. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, it set the tone in a 9-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox.
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White Sox 3, Dodgers 1.

Aaron Harang threw six strong innings, but the White Sox (11-15) prevailed against the Dodgers (12-11-4) before an announced crowd of 5,091 at Camelback Ranch. [box score]

Harang allowed six hits — all singles — walked one, and struck out six in six innings. Three of those singles came in the fifth inning, allowing Chicago to score its only run against the 6-foot-7 right-hander. Harang threw 104 pitches, 66 for strikes, and left with the score tied 1-1. In his last two starts, spanning 11 innings, he has allowed two runs and 11 hits.

Reliever Josh Lindblom allowed a solo home run to Trayce Thompson in the seventh inning and Scott Rice served up an RBI single to Adam Dunn in the eighth.

The Dodgers got their only run when Josh Fields singled and came around to score on an A.J. Ellis sacrifice fly in the fifth inning.

Two days after bunting a ball into his groin, Juan Uribe went 2-for-3. Juan Rivera doubled and a single by Ellis accounted for the Dodgers’ fifth hit of the game.

A few more notes:

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Dodgers 4, White Sox 3.

Jerry Sands‘ walk-off single drove in pinch-runner Elian Herrera in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the Dodgers (11-8-4) to the win before 5,816 at Camelback Ranch. [box score]

Sands’ single was just his sixth hit in 38 Cactus League at-bats, and it came at a critical time as the roster is trimmed in advance of opening day.

“I’ve been feeling pretty brutal just trying to work on some things,” Sands said. “Changes here and there, just trying to get comfortable now after making some changes, all kinds of stuff. Just trying to get rhythm and timing after making changes is the hardest thing.

With two strikes against him, Sands lined a single into left field that Kosuke Fukudome could not field cleanly, allowing Herrera to score easily from second base. It was only the sixth hit by the Dodgers all afternoon, as starter Chad Billingsley allowed 11 hits in his 5 2/3 innings of work.

All of those hits were singles, however, and Chicago left nine runners on base. Billingsley also walked two and struck out five.

Dee Gordon stole two bases, giving him a major league-leading 10 this spring. Andre Ethier‘s fifth-inning double was his eighth, tying him for the major league lead with a pair of luminaries, Lorenzo Cain and Matt Carpenter.

A few more notes:

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