LOS ANGELES--As the Los Angeles Dodgers limp closer to the playoffs, the team's remaining games become less about the regular season and more about preparing for the postseason.
Now is the time to let injuries heal, to win home-field advantage and, for some, to secure spots on the postseason roster.
But Manager Don Mattingly resisted calling the next two weeks a tryout, which will come as a comfort to Ricky Nolasco and the five pitchers who followed him to the mound Saturday in a 19-3 loss to the San Francisco Giants.
The rout was the seventh loss in 10 games for the Dodgers and the 19 runs were the most any team has scored in the 51-year history of Dodger Stadium. By the time it ended, Hunter Pence had a career-high seven runs batted in, Brandon Belt had career highs with five hits and six RBIs and 40 players had appeared in the game, which looked more like a spring-training game than a mid-September matchup between a division leader and the reigning World Series champions.
The Dodgers also committed three errors, walked seven batters, threw a wild pitch and gave up a season-high 22 hits.
Not exactly the way to peak for October.
The timing wasn't good for Nolasco either. The right-hander, who hadn't lost in two months and 10 starts, is battling rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu for the No. 3 spot in the postseason rotation. Saturday he recorded only four outs, matching a career low. And the seven runs -- five earned -- that he gave up equaled the total from his last six starts combined.
But as ugly as the loss was on the scoreboard it may prove equally as damaging to the Dodgers' quest at securing home-field advantage in the postseason, a prize that goes to the two division winners with the best regular-season records. After Saturday's games, Atlanta leads that race by three games over St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Dodgers, who all have 86-62 records with 14 games to play.
But Mattingly said before Saturday's game his first goal is to get the team ready to play wherever its first postseason game is held.
"It doesn't matter where you're playing if you don't have your guys. So we're going to try to have our guys 100 percent, as close to that as we can get," said Mattingly, who lost Hanley Ramirez and Andre Ethier to injury last week and has been without Matt Kemp since mid-July. And that was before Yasiel Puig left Saturday's game in the sixth inning after being a hit by a pitch and landing awkwardly after a diving catch.
"Every day we put a lineup out, we expect to win."
The lineup Mattingly put out Saturday had little chance at that after the Giants sent 17 men to the plate in the first two innings, running out to a 7-1 lead that grew from there.
Five Giants finished with two hits or more and six players scored two runs or more. Right-hander Tim Lincecum, the starting pitcher, had two of each.
In addition to Nolasco, Stephen Fife had a rough night on the mound, giving up five runs and six hits in three innings of relief.
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