The Dodgers had plenty of early opportunities Saturday night but they were unable to fully cash in, leaving the door open for the Marlins to rally and claim a 7-3 victory and even their weekend series at Marlins Park in Miami.
The loss, coupled with San Francisco's win, leaves the Dodgers one game back in the National League West.
The Dodgers were 2-for-11 on the night with runners in scoring position, but one of the hits didn't even score a run.
The Dodgers loaded the bases against Ricky Nolasco in each of the first two innings but failed to score. They put another runner on in the third inning, but a James Loney double play ended that threat. The fourth inning looked to be more of the same, but Shane Victorino beat out a would-be inning-ending double play, allowing A.J. Ellis to score from third.
Matt Kemp singled, stole second, and scored on a single by Andre Ethier in the fifth inning, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 advantage. But it wouldn't last.
Giancarlo Stanton added to his imposing stature on Saturday at the plate. In the second inning he blistered a line drive well foul into the stands down the left field line, one that would make any season ticket holder willing to reconsider their seat location. After that foul, he blistered a double to center with one out, but Joe Blanton was able to strand him.
Blanton retired the next eight hitters and faced Stanton to lead off the fifth. Stanton crushed a pitch over the scoreboard in left field, but fortunately for the Dodgers it was foul, merely strike two. Blanton's next pitch was a called strike to get Stanton, but before Blanton could exhale for retiring his ninth straight batter he gave up doubles to the next three hitters to tie the score at 2-2.
After a single by pinch-hitter Austin Kearns, a squeeze bunt by Gorkys Hernandez gave the Marlins the lead, and a single by Justin Ruggiano made it 4-2 Miami.
Luis Cruz entered the game at third base in the bottom of the sixth inning, after Jerry Hairston Jr. left the game with left hip tightness, per the KCAL broadcast.
The game did provide the rarest of occurrences, as Juan Uribe made his first appearance in a game since August 1. After seven games on the bench, Uribe swung at the first pitch he saw as a pinch hitter for Blanton in the sixth inning, grounding out to shortstop. It was the fourth plate appearance in the last 20 days for Uribe.
Nolasco, who wasn't sharp in any of his five innings and was on the ropes for seemingly his entire outing, left the game trailing, but thanks to the four-run Miami rally in the fifth inning he picked up the win to snap a personal five-game losing streak.
Miami rallied for three insurance runs in the eighth, highlighted by a two-run double from Carlos Lee. That made the score 7-2, essentially putting the game away. The runs came against Brandon League, who has been anything but effective since joining the Dodgers at the non-waiver trade deadline.
In 2 2/3 innings with Los Angeles, League has allowed five runs. He does have four strikeouts against just one walk, but eight of the 16 batters he has faced have reached base.
Kemp, who struck out swinging on a 3-2 pitch nearly in the Dodgers' dugout to leave the bases loaded in the second inning, had three hits on the night. He also stole two bases, the first time he has done so this season, and his first multi-steal game since July 5, 2011.
The Dodgers go for the series win on Sunday morning, with a battle of left-handers. Chris Capuano gets the call for the Dodgers, facing Wade LeBlanc for Miami.
Home Runs: Giancarlo Stanton (0)
WP - Ricky Nolasco (9-11): 5 IP, 9 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
LP - Joe Blanton (8-10): 5 IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 3 strikeouts