DODGERS HIT ROCK BOTTOM; GIANTS SLAM PARK FOR SIX RUNS IN 3-2/3 INNINGS : SAN FRAN. 8, DODGERS 7.
The Dodgers might have talent waiting to burst out, but they've earned the distinction of being the worst team in the National League West.
They won two of three against San Francisco, but they returned to LAX on Sunday night in last place after dropping the finale of a three-game series 8-7 to the Giants at 3Com Park.
Even though the Dodgers (34-39) won the first two games of this series, their June record stands at 9-14 and they haven't won three consecutive games for two months. They've lost 13 of 19.
``Last place, 7-1/2 games out,'' Dodgers manager Davey Johnson said. ``I don't care what everyone is doing. I care what we're doing. We're trying to get our act together here.''
San Diego, winners of nine straight, leaped-frogged the Dodgers with their win earlier in the day against Colorado. It's the first time the Dodgers have been in last place since April 24, 1996. They trail the Padres by a half-game.
``A couple of days ago we were eight games out in the loss column,'' Dodgers first baseman Eric Karros said. ``Hell, we picked up a game. This series we played as well a series as we've played all year, against a tough team in a tough ballpark. That's the way you have to look at it.''
True, the Dodgers played their best series possibly since beginning the season with a sweep of Arizona, but they remain inconsistent. A day after an emotional win that could jump-start a winning streak, the pitching sputtered. Particularly starter Chan Ho Park, who lasted less than four innings.
``Chan Ho Park, he's got to pick it up,'' Johnson said. ``It wasn't very good pitching, especially by Chan Ho.''
The Dodgers rallied for four runs in the seventh inning - three via Gary Sheffield's 16th homer - but it did nothing to offset Park's outing.
Park, who was predicted by many to have a breakout season and challenge the 20-win plateau, was battered for six runs in his second-shortest outing of the season. He lasted 3-2/3 innings and could have showered, walked to the airport and flown back to L.A. by the time this 3-hour, 36-minute marathon ended.
Instead, Park didn't move from his locker after the game, staring into it and declining comment.
Park (4-6) walked four and allowed two more homers, the 18th and 19th of the season, in a span of three pitches. J.T. Snow hit a three-run homer to put the Giants ahead 4-0 in the third and Ellis Burks made it back-to-back with a shot to center field.
``Thank God for a couple of two-out RBI bloopers,'' Giants manager Dusty Baker said after his squad's losing streak ended. ``Any time you're trying to break a losing streak, it's always tough.''
The flip-side of what has been a season of one thing working well, another poorly, is the offensive surge.
The Dodgers averaged 2.8 runs on their last home stand, but have scored 14 runs and accumulated 27 hits in the past two games. Part of that is catcher Todd Hundley's moving to second in the order, and hitting well. He followed up his two-run homer Saturday with two hits Sunday.
Sheffield hit the homer in the seventh off reliever Jerry Spradlin to draw the Dodgers close. But an inning later Giants righty John Johnstone struck out Sheffield with the tying run stuck on first and with two outs.
The Giants added a huge run in the bottom of the inning when Brent Mayne's bloop double fell just out of the reach of a diving Sheffield.
Mark Gardner (2-6) yielded three runs in 6-1/3 innings for the win. Rob Nen, who lost Saturday on Todd Hundley's three-run homer, gave up a one-out solo homer to Todd Hollandsworth before getting the final two outs for his 19th save.
``We had a lot of guys who played hard and played great,'' Baker said. ``After a loss like (Saturday's), it reflects our character big-time.''
NL WEST STANDINGS
Team W L Pct. GB
Arizona 43 33 .566 -
San Francisco 41 35 .539 2
Colorado 34 37 .479 6-1/2
San Diego 34 38 .472 7
Los Angeles 34 39 .466 7-1/2
PHOTO The Giants' J.T. Snow, right, celebrates with Ellis Burks after Snow's three-run homer.
Susan Ragan/Associated Press
BOX: NL WEST STANDINGS (see text)