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STL@LAD: Ethier scores on Loney's fielder's choice

LOS ANGELES -- Don Mattingly is 15 games into his managerial debut, and as if the Dodgers don't have enough distractions off the field, they've lost their last five games on it, including Saturday night's 9-2 setback to the high-scoring Cardinals.

Mattingly called a team meeting after Friday night's nine-run loss to rally the troops and make sure nobody was panicking two weeks into the season. But the response was underwhelming, ace Clayton Kershaw not getting through the fifth inning and the offense going 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position.

"We just have to make sure to turn the page," said Mattingly. "We can't let three rough games in a row, and losing two well-played games in San Francisco, we can let that affect us going forward. We have to get rid of it and be ready to play tomorrow. You'll get tired of hearing me say it."

With James Loney and Juan Uribe both hitting below .160, the Dodgers are tempted to call up the torrid Jerry Sands from Triple-A Albuquerque. The bullpen, having just lost Hong-Chih Kuo indefinitely, is already worn thin. The roster has lost eight to the disabled list, a number not reached last year until May 9.

So Mattingly met with general manager Ned Colletti and farm director DeJon Watson after Saturday night's loss to take inventory, although Mattingly said he didn't expect a roster move before Sunday's game.

In the first three games of the series, the Dodgers have been outscored, 29-9; outhit, 48-26; and outhomered, 6-1. Allen Craig had three hits, including a three-run homer that ended Kershaw's night. Former Dodgers infielder Ryan Theriot had three hits, while Andre Ethier led the Dodgers with a pair of doubles and a single, extending his hitting streak to 13 games.

The focus afterward was on Kershaw (2-2). He made 30 pitches while escaping a bases-loaded jam in the second inning, an exhausting 40 more while allowing one run in the third and the Cardinals added a run in the fourth after Kershaw walked opposing pitcher Kyle McClellan on four close pitches.

Judging from Kershaw's body language, he wasn't seeing eye to eye with plate umpire and crew chief Joe West, but he was diplomatic when asked if he was being squeezed on balls and strikes.

"There's no point talking about it now," said Kershaw, who walked five Cardinals after walking only four in his other three starts combined. "It's just one of those nights. I walked too many. I tried to battle through it, and the home run did us in. That's the way it goes."

Kershaw was not quite as diplomatic when asked about the unusual break in the action during Matt Holliday's third-inning at-bat. A screaming foul liner struck and injured a fan and West stopped the game momentarily, going to the mound, then first base before allowing play to resume.

"I didn't lose concentration," said Kershaw. "Obviously, you want to show understanding for a fan that's hurt and make sure everything is OK. At the same time, I haven't ever seen someone stop play on something like that. It's unorthodox, as far as I'm concerned, but it is a way of showing sympathy."

Kershaw made 111 pitches and Mattingly said he had decided Craig would be Kershaw's last batter regardless.

"He battled all night, but he wasn't able to put guys away," said Mattingly. "After the fourth, we talked about it [removing Kershaw]. He's the kind of kid who wants to just keep going back out there. It is a balance and he is your guy, but you don't want to extend him too far. That was the last batter one way or the other. You don't want to take a chance where he hurts himself."

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa praised his club's persistent offensive approach.

"Everybody that went up there just worked as hard as they could," he said. "They fouled off a lot of pitches. He doesn't throw anything over the middle, and even if it's over the middle, it's got life. He punched Albert [Pujols] out twice, so you know he's got good stuff. ... But I thought that one of the keys to the game was how hard we made him work. Everybody just competed, just kept fouling pitches off and building up that count."

The game also saw the second umpire warning in four games for the Dodgers that came after Ramon Troncoso, recalled earlier in the day to replace Kuo, hit Tyler Greene with a pitch leading off the sixth inning. McClellan had hit Casey Blake in the hand in the first inning and grazed Rod Barajas on the shoulder in the fourth.

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