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Dodgers can’t rally after Lilly struggles

June 28, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — After matching a club record with 25 hits on Monday night for their second straight win, the Dodgers looked like they might be on the verge of putting together a winning streak.

But after a complete performance in Monday’s victory, with good pitching, hitting and defense, the Dodgers couldn’t keep the Twins off the board on Tuesday and could not string together enough hits of their own as they lost, 6-4, at Target Field.

“It’s kind of really been our story, for the most part. We’ve been able to put a couple games together, [or] three, it looks like we might get something going here and there, and then we just seem to fall back,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. “Obviously, we’re going to need to win tomorrow and keep trying to put this thing together.”

It started on the mound, where left-hander Ted Lilly had just one inning in which he did not allow a run, giving up six on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings. Lilly allowed at least one hit in every inning, and multiple hits in the first, second and fifth.

Lilly did not strike out a batter for just the third time in 302 career starts. The other two times came on Sept. 23, 2005, at Yankee Stadium and May 18, 2001, at Seattle. In his last three starts, Lilly is 0-3 with a 10.43 ERA, giving up 17 earned runs on 23 hits, including four home runs.

The big hit came in the fifth, when Twins first baseman Luke Hughes knocked Lilly out of the game with a two-run homer that broke a 4-4 tie.

“It was in, but it was up, and it just didn’t come out very good. I think if I finish that ball a little better and the location’s the same, maybe he pops it up, usually,” Lilly said. “Sometimes the balls that are hit like that are leaked back out over the plate. He kept it fair, and it cost us the game.”

One night after former Twins prospect and Australia native Trent Oeltjen had four hits and was a double shy of the cycle, his fellow countryman, Hughes, came through in a big way for the Twins.

“It was great to watch Trent Oeltjen do his thing last night — it was bittersweet watching him get four hits against us — but tonight was a fantastic opportunity, getting a chance to face Lilly for a third time,” Hughes said. “He got me out the first couple at-bats, but I was lucky enough to square one up and get it over there.”

In the top of the fifth, the Dodgers had tied the game with three runs on a home run, two singles and two walks. Second baseman Aaron Miles hit the solo blast, his first of the season, and Andre Ethier delivered two runs with a single that just got through the infield.

But the offense would not score again, as it managed just three more hits on the night.

The Dodgers had a chance in the seventh, with singles by Jamey Carroll and Casey Blake, but a couple of calls went the Twins’ way to keep Los Angeles off the board. Left fielder Tony Gwynn appeared to have beat out a grounder to short, but was called out, and Carroll looked to have scored on Blake’s single before being called out at the plate.

Twins lefty Brian Duensing gave up four runs on four hits and four walks over five-plus innings with three strikeouts. Duensing dominated the first time through the Dodgers’ order, but he was not much better than Lilly in the end.

“To be honest, it was hard to tell yourself to let them put [it] in play after last night, when every single one of them put [it] in play and put [it] in play hard,” Duensing said. “But I thought the chances of that happening were slim, so I went after them, especially early. But then it got away from me a little bit, and I lost that feeling.”

The Twins took an early lead with an RBI single by Joe Mauer in the first. They added a pair of runs in the second inning with two singles, two stolen bases and an Alexi Casilla double. Minnesota added a run in the fourth inning, the second of the night scored by former Dodgers outfielder Jason Repko, and two in the fifth on Hughes’ home run.

At the midway point of the season after Tuesday’s loss, the Dodgers sit 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Giants, and are nine games under .500.

“We know the situation,” Mattingly said. “Tonight, you feel like you get back in the game and you’re hoping to get something going, but as far as putting some wins together … it’s just not being consistent, really.

“We haven’t been able to consistently put it together, where we’re getting that pitching and we’re swinging the bats.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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