The Dodgers hit the ground with a thud to begin the second half of the season, losing two of three games to the San Diego Padres.

Friday night’s game resembled the team that was running away with the division as the Dodgers came back to defeat the Padres 2-1 behind a Mark Ellis home run. Saturday night’s 7-6 loss featured one of the strangest plays seen recently as Everth Cabrera stole home while closer Kenley Jansen was kicking dirt on the mound. The ugly play continued Sunday with a 7-2 loss that saw the Dodgers commit five errors, their most in a game since 1995.

INFIELDERS: C
It was a series of highs and lows for the Dodgers infield. Mark Ellis and Adam Kennedy shined. Ellis hit the go-ahead 2-run home run on Fri. night, and Adam Kennedy was 2-for-4 with an RBI double in his lone start at third base on Saturday. However, the Dodgers infield practically gave away the game on Sunday afternoon committing four of the five total errors on the day. Jerry Hairston, Jr. made a terrific diving stop on a sharp 2-out grounder by Yasmani Grandal, but his throw went sailing way over James Loney‘s head at first allowing the go-ahead run to score for the Padres. Juan Uribe continued his poor play going 1-for-6 with a double in two starts, also committing an error Sunday. Luis Cruz, who appears to be the shortstop in the interim during Dee Gordon‘s absence, went 0-for-7 in the series. A.J. Ellis struggled mightily in the series going 0-for-8, striking out four times Saturday night.

OUTFIELDERS: B+
Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier made returns to the Dodgers lineup after extended absences, and their impact was felt immediately. Kemp put the ball in play more often than not going 5-for-9 with a double and a run scored in the first two games of the series. Ethier was even more effective going 5-for-11 with a homer and five RBI in the series. Bobby Abreu and Tony Gwynn each scored a run in their respective starts in left field. Kemp got the day off Sunday, as the team is not going to rush him back from injury. The Dodgers had the lead in the latter two games of the series, thanks in no small part to the team’s two All-Star outfielders. Despite gaffes from Jansen and the infield, Dodger fans should be encouraged by the return of two of the games’ best players to the lineup and how fresh they looked.

Starting Pitching: A-
Starting pitching continues to be one of the Dodgers’ strengths. The Dodgers got quality starts in all three games from their starters. Friday night was vintage Clayton Kershaw, who despite not having his best stuff, found a way to grind out a gritty start where he gave up only one run, giving his team every chance to win. Mark Ellis rewarded him for his effort before the bullpen came in. Expectations for Kershaw are high after winning the Cy Young award last year, but his numbers this year are pretty much on par with his numbers from last year.

The Dodgers will need another Cy Young effort from Kershaw this year, as Chad Billingsley was scratched from his scheduled start yesterday. It is unclear how much, if any, time Billingsley will miss.

Aaron Harang also delivered a solid start holding his former team to three earned runs in 7.0 innings. But Harang would not be as lucky as Kershaw as the Padres scored three runs in the final two innings to spoil the win for Harang.

Chris Capuano was equally effective Sunday afternoon, lowering his ERA from 2.91 to 2.75, however, the Dodgers defense let him down allowing four unearned runs to score on fielding errors. The Dodgers starters put them in a position to win every day.

BULLPEN: C-
Much like the infield, it was a series of highs and lows for the Dodger bullpen. The Blue Crew got three scoreless innings from Javy Guerra, Ronald Belisario, and Kenley Jansen to seal the win Friday night.

Belisario returned Saturday night to surrender a run. However, it was Jansen who was the goat. While staring at the ground kicking dirt, Everth Cabrera stole home on a completely unaware Jansen, who then fired home before watching the home plate umpire emphatically signal an out, however, it was immediately apparent that A.J. Ellis did not have the ball, and the runner was safe. While Ellis chased the ball to the backstop, Jansen stood at the mound watching the play allowing the go-ahead run to score.

Again the Dodgers had the lead Sunday afternoon. Capuano was the victim of some poor defense and left the game trailing 4-2. Josh Lindblom closed out the 7th, but gave up a home run to Chase Headley in the 8th. Shawn Tolleson struck out the next two batters to end the inning. Much like Jansen the previous night, Jamey Wright came in to start the 9th only to commit a throwing error of his own and give up another two unearned runs.

The Dodgers will look to rebound against the Phillies. Barring another 5 errors, there’s no reason to think the Boys in Blue won’t get back on track.

Weekly GPA: 2.75

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