The Dodgers came up disappointingly short in a pivotal series that could have closed the gap between them and the San Francisco Giants. Instead, the Dodgers dropped two out of three games, including a 4-0 shutout loss in Sunday evening’s series finale.

Dodger players are dropping like flies, Matt Kemp missed the final two games of the series after revealing an injured shoulder sustained after he ran into the outfield wall in Colorado. Clayton Kershaw was scheduled to pitch Sunday night’s nationally televised game, but he was scratched due to a sore hip. Both could return as soon as Tuesday, however.

In a series, the Dodgers badly needed to win, they failed to step up to the challenge.

INFIELDERS: C+
Mark and A.J. Ellis were rock solid on offense and defense in the series. Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez came up huge in the Dodgers’ lone win Saturday afternoon, and Adam Kennedy delivered his second homer of the year, as well.

However, Luis Cruz struggled for the first time in recent memory, and Hanley and Adrian were largely shut down outside of Saturday’s late inning heroics.

Gonzalez was 2-for-12 in the series with his first triple of the season and the go-ahead run Saturday.

Hanley also went 2-for-12 with the go-ahead RBI double Saturday, but was completely shut down outside of that.

Mark Ellis was the only Dodger to hit safely in all three games of the series going 5-for-11 with a double and a run scored, and currently has a seven-game hit streak, watching his average rise from .259 to .274 since August 1.

A.J. Ellis went 4-for-7 in the series and also had a highlight reel play sprinting from home to third to record a double play.

Luis Cruz went hit-less going 0-for-9.

Adam Kennedy got a spot start on Friday because of his good career numbers against Giants starter Tim Lincecum, and he delivered a go-ahead solo homer in the 6th, only to strain his groin while attempting to charge a ground ball in the following inning.

OUTFIELDERS: D
After going 0-for 5 with an RBI ground out in Friday night’s 5-2 loss, Matt Kemp knew something was wrong. Kemp underwent an MRI that revealed a strained shoulder, that has been nagging him since running into the outfield fence at Coors Field in Denver. If Kemp’s shoulder is bothering him, it would certainly explain why he was 3-for-30 since running into the wall.

Juan Rivera replaced Kemp in the outfield going 1-for-6 with a double.

Andre Ethier also struggled going only 1-for-10 in the series.

Ditto for Shane Victorino who had a sac fly RBI and a double on Saturday, but was only 1-for-9 in the series.

STARTING PITCHING: C
Josh Beckett and Chris Capuano kept the Dodgers in the game in their respective starts, but in a series where the guys needed to step up, Joe Blanton failed to do so, and continued his poor pitching since joining the Dodgers (1-4 6.28 ERA).

Beckett went 6.1 innings, striking out three and walking three, essentially out pitching Tim Lincecum, who walked seven. However, a Marco Scutaro pinched bloop single with the bases loaded in the seventh, tampering with his numbers, and putting the Giants out in front, 4-2.

Chris Capuano had one of his best starts of the year on Saturday, matching Giants All-Star Matt Cain pitch-for-pitch. going 7.0 strong innings, allowing only two runs while striking out three. Capuano was also able to show off his athleticism going first to third on a Mark Ellis single, and scoring on Shane Victorino‘s sac fly.

Joe Blanton continued his disappointing stint with the Dodgers going only 5.1 innings, giving up four earned runs while striking out four. Blanton was thoroughly out pitched by Barry Zito. Only Lincecum and Erik Bedard, who was released by the Pirates, have more losses than Blanton’s 13.

BULLPEN: B-
The Dodgers bullpen did their job, but, as has been the case recently, their work has largely been done-in after the games have been decided. Brandon League, Randy Choate and Jamey Wright combined for 2.1 innings of relief on Friday night. Joaquin Arias would single home another run off of Wright, but the Dodgers were already down at that point.

Ronald Belisario and Brandon League pitched scoreless 8th and 9th innings on Saturday. Belisario collected his 5th win of the year, and League notched his second save with the Dodgers. The Dodgers got 2.2 innings scoreless from Choate, Wright, and September call up Steven “Paco” Rodriguez on Sunday, but again, the Dodgers were already down and unable to come back in the game.

The Dodgers will get a much needed day off Monday to re-group. The Blue Crew will head to Phoenix for a quick two-game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks before returning home for a critical four-game series with the Wild Card-leading St. Louis Cardinals. The D’Backs have been fighting for their lives and looked to still have some left when they beat the Giants two out of three games earlier in the week. However, the San Diego Padres just beat them two out of three games. Arizona has taken 10 of the 16 games with the Dodgers this season.

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