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De La Rosa shines, gets no support from bats

June 29, 2011

MINNEAPOLIS — His third pitch of the game aside, Rubby De La Rosa was dominant on Wednesday against the Twins. But with no support from the offense, the Dodgers lost, 1-0, at Target Field.

Twins leadoff hitter Ben Revere crushed a 1-1 fastball from De La Rosa into the gap in right, cruising into third base with a standup triple. Revere then scored the game’s only run on a soft grounder back to the pitcher.

De La Rosa tossed a career-high seven innings, giving up just one run on six hits. He struck out four and allowed two walks.

“I was trying to get ahead and have them swing at the first pitch,” De La Rosa said through an interpreter.

De La Rosa fell behind in the count a number of times Wednesday — including the first four batters he faced — but he frequently followed a first-pitch ball with a strike. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the biggest thing that De La Rosa did right was attacking the strike zone and limiting the number of walks.

Out of 95 pitches — not counting the intentional walk to Revere — De La Rosa threw 80 fastballs, mixing in just seven changeups and eight sliders.

The right-hander threw 69 strikes on the day, inducing eight swings and misses. In doing so, De La Rosa left quite an impression on the Twins.

“He made some of us look pretty bad at times,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “So that says a little bit about how much De La Rosa’s ball was moving.”

Only one Twins hitter — Revere — had more than one hit against De La Rosa. He also retired Minnesota in order the second time through the lineup.

“He’s more of a thrower than a pitcher at this point, but that’s kind of a compliment. He has great stuff, electric stuff,” said Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who grounded out three times against De La Rosa.

“He has a great fastball and could probably go out there and throw 95 percent fastballs and get guys out. The ball is moving all over the place, and once he figures out where it’s going on a consistent basis, he’ll be that much better.”

The Dodgers’ offense opened the game with three straight swinging strikeouts, and things did not get much better after that. Los Angeles managed just six hits and had more than one baserunner in an inning only once, with two singles in the second.

It was the eighth time this season the Dodgers were shut out, and their second 1-0 loss. The other came on May 17 against Josh Collmenter and the D-backs.

Entering Wednesday, the Dodgers had a National League-leading .281 team batting average. Even with that, the team has remained inconsistent, finishing with a 10-16 record in June.

“At times, it looks OK; at times, it doesn’t,” Mattingly said of the offense. “I think somebody told me before the game we were the best [hitting] team in baseball in June. I don’t know what that tells you, but [we’re] still not being able to put up enough runs to put wins together.”

Twins right-hander Scott Baker bounced back from a rough outing in Milwaukee over the weekend, striking out nine and walking one over 7 1/3 shutout innings. It was the third outing of seven or more innings by Baker in June.

In his last four trips to the hill, Baker is 3-1 with a 1.45 ERA and 30 strikeouts.

“I know he kind of likes to play with that fastball up in the zone,” Mattingly said. “That’s not necessarily a surprise, but it obviously looks good to hit. He’s able to pitch up there. He kind of changes planes, he’s got a good breaking ball it looks like, and for the most part, [he] throws strikes.”

All but one hit allowed by Baker was a single, with Matt Kemp’s sixth-inning double the only exception.

Kemp could have done more with the two-bagger, as he slowed around first, thinking he was out and even removing his helmet before replacing it and easing into second. He still advanced to third on his 22nd stolen base of the season, but James Loney could not drive him in.

After putting up 25 hits and 15 runs in the opening game of the series, the Dodgers managed just four runs and 13 hits in dropping the last two contests. With the loss Wednesday, they dropped to 10 games under .500 for the second time this season, but nonetheless remained positive after the game.

“We’re not frustrated,” Kemp said. “We have a lot of time left, we’re going to keep playing, keep battling, and we’re going to try our best to turn this thing around. We’ve got faith in ourselves.”

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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