LOS ANGELES--Josh Beckett was the forgotten Dodger all off-season, the past-his-prime veteran who had won all of two games for the team since his August 2012 acquisition.
Now, it's the Los Angeles Dodgers' offense that seems worthy of being forgotten. The 33-year-old right-hander fired eight innings of two-run ball Friday to keep the Dodgers close with the Colorado Rockies, but his team's offense did little until late in a 5-4 loss in 11 innings at Dodger Stadium.
In 48 innings over their last five games, including four losses, the Dodgers (13-11) have scored a grand total of 14 runs.
In Friday's first inning, Yasiel Puig launched a solo homer off Rockies starter Jordan Lyles, his third of the season. Then, after Beckett allowed two runs in the second, Dee Gordon created the tying run with his legs in the third, taking second on a ball hit in the infield and scoring on a single to left by Puig.
That was it until the 11th, when the Dodgers faced a three-run deficit after three relievers struggled through the top half of the inning.
In that final frame, Hanley Ramirez led off with a double and Adrian Gonzalez followed with a two-run homer to right, his seventh of 2014. But Scott Van Slyke, Carl Crawford and Juan Uribe went down in order to end the game.
Earlier, in the sixth, Ramirez led off with an off-the-wall double that initially appeared to be a homer, and the Dodgers stranded him there.
Beckett struck out six, walked none and allowed just four hits in his eight innings. In his last three starts, he has permitted just two runs in 18 innings, striking out 17 while walking seven and allowing seven hits.
He became the first Dodger starter to finish eight innings this season.
In the ninth inning, Matt Kemp was tossed after arguing a called third strike by home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez, on a ball that appeared outside the zone. It was Kemp's seventh career ejection and first since April 11, 2013, the day of the Dodgers-Padres brawl in San Diego.
Is Wilson healthy?
Brian Wilson is healthy.
At least he says he is, and the Dodgers say they believe he is, despite the ghastly 15.75 ERA he has posted in six mostly disastrous appearances spanning four innings this season.
So, why has the 32-year-old right-handed reliever barely resembled the dominant force he was down the stretch last season?
"I think he's healthy. If he's not, he's not telling us and we're not seeing it like that," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Friday. "If there's nothing wrong with him physically, then it's a matter of him not executing and not getting the ball where he wants. That's where you start. If he says he's fine physically, then you watch the video and see if anything's wrong."
Something was obviously wrong in Wilson's first American outing this season, March 30 in San Diego, when his velocity was down, his control was off, and he turned a 1-0 lead into a 3-1 deficit -- and eventual loss.
Two days later, Wilson was on the 15-day disabled list with what was termed nerve irritation. After building up arm strength over several minor league rehab appearances, he returned to the majors and threw 4 mph faster in his next outing April 17, a scoreless inning against San Francisco.
The velocity has stayed since, but the control has remained absent. According to data tracked by BrooksBaseball.com, Wilson's release points haven't varied to a statistically significant level.
The only notable thing he is doing different so far -- and it's very, very early -- is throwing a higher percentage of fastballs and fewer sliders.
Last year, 72 percent of his pitches were sliders, and the opposition hit just .235 off the pitch. This year, Wilson is throwing 58 percent sliders, and the results have been poor.
Thirteen plate appearances have ended on a Wilson slider, including two walks, one hit-by-pitch, one sacrifice bunt and five hits, all for extra bases. Only four netted outs.
Mattingly said he trusts pitching coach Rick Honeycutt to detect and dissect any problems with Wilson.
"It seems like every time a guy makes a bad throw or two, he knows that something's not right," Mattingly said of Honeycutt. "He sees that right away. The only thing we can do is ask and continue to watch him and look at video and things like that."
Selig weighs in on TV
As the Time Warner cable dispute drags on, leaving millions of Southern California viewers unable to watch the Dodgers, MLB commissioner Bud Selig has no plans to intervene.
"All I can do at this point is aggressively stay on top of it and hope they get it settled," Selig said. "I trust that they will. It's in everyone's best interest to get that done as soon as possible."
Selig, who answered questions at his annual meeting with representatives of The Associated Press Sports Editors in New York, also said he had "concerns" about recent stories detailing the ordeal Yasiel Puig endured as he defected from Cuba.
There has been some suggestion that the MLB rule, which forces Cuban players to go to a third country before coming to the United States, contributes to the problem they face.
Rob Manfred, MLB's chief operating officer, said it's under review.
"The first question you have to ask yourself is whether there's any difference between trafficking to the United States vs. Mexico or any other place," Manfred said. "Does the destination change what happens to players when they try to get out of Cuba? We've seen no evidence of that. Having said that, we are in the process of having some conversations with the players association about whether there's something we can do with our rules that might be helpful in this area."
Puig's escape from Cuba is going to be made into a movie.
Brett Ratner, the director of the "Rush Hour" film series, reportedly purchased the film rights to Puig's story, as told this month by Los Angeles Magazine.
Ratner's RatPac Entertainment purchased writer Jesse Katz's magazine story and is reportedly searching for screenwriters to adapt it for the screen.
As the story chronicles, Puig attempted to defect from Cuba several times and was held captive for nearly three weeks after he finally succeeded. He eventually signed a $42 million, seven-year contract with the Dodgers.
Ratner is a native of Miami, where Puig now makes his home.
(Jeff Fletcher contributed to this report.)
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