CINCINNATI -- Skip Schumaker had two hits in the Cincinnati Reds' 4-1 victory over the Dodgers on Thursday afternoon.
But he really squared one up after the game. A valuable member of the Dodgers' bench last season, Schumaker might have offered the best diagnosis of this season's Dodgers while talking to a local reporter.
"We're lucky we got the split (of this series) against a very good team over there," Schumaker said. "That's a very talented, dangerous team. That lineup is very good. When certain guys want to play, it's even better."
It is not what the Dodgers thought they would be paying $250 million for this season. But they have spent most of the year within easy reach of .500, never winning more than three consecutive games with positive momentum a "now-you-see-it/now-you-don't" proposition.
The momentum that seemed to be gathering when the Dodgers won four of the first five games on this trip melted away again as they scored just one run over the final 20 innings. They began the trip 81/2 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the National League West. A Giants' victory Thursday afternoon would mean the Dodgers landed back in Los Angeles the same 81/2 games out.
But right-hander Zack Greinke offered a rebuttal to the idea that the Dodgers are a merry band of well-paid underachievers.
"We've been playing pretty solid," Greinke said, unaware of Schumaker's remark. "People expect us to win every game, win 10 games in a row. I mean, it's possible. But we're over .500 (35-33). I think we're in the playoffs as of now (they were tied for the second wild-card spot when the day started).
"We know we can do better but (critics are) jumping all over everyone when we're chasing I guess the second-best team in baseball in the Giants right now and doing what we can."
They did very little Thursday. Three singles in the first inning (by Justin Turner, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp) produced a run in the first inning. They didn't get another runner past first base until the seventh inning against Reds right-hander Alfredo Simon.
From there, they failed to get a runner in from third with less than two outs in the seventh and ninth innings.
With Hanley Ramirez unavailable -- and Juan Uribe, A.J. Ellis and Carl Crawford on the DL -- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly had a short bench as the bottom of the Dodgers' lineup came up in each of those run-scoring situations.
The most expensive team in baseball history sent up Tim Federowicz, Miguel Rojas (twice) and pinch-hitters Scott Van Slyke and Jamie Romak to take five late-inning at-bats with a runner on third. They resulted in three strikeouts, a too-shallow fly out to right and a ground ball to third.
"Obviously, you'd like to be deeper," Mattingly said. "If we're totally healthy as you get to the back end (of the lineup), you're looking at Uribe and A.J. and that. It changes things a little bit.
"But honestly, this is who we are right now."
Things have not gotten better at home. Even with the back-to-back losses in Cincinnati, the Dodgers are a robust 22-14 on the road – but only 13-19 at home. Only one team in baseball has won fewer games at home (the Arizona Diamondbacks).
"Once you win the first couple games of a series, you'd like to think you're going to win three or four -- especially when you have Hyun-Jin (Ryu) and Zack pitching the last two days," Mattingly said. "But we weren't able to capitalize on one of those games. But still in the sense of a team on the road, we really played pretty well on this trip.
"I think that's the kind of things you look at on a baseball team even though it hasn't really been happening for us yet. You make your hay at home and play .500 or a little above on the road you're going to feel pretty good about it. Up to this point, we haven't been able to make hay at home. That's the thing for us that has to change. We have to play better at home."
(c)2014 The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.)
Visit The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.) at www.ocregister.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services