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Dodgers keep the faith in faltering bullpen

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

OAKLAND -- Before we move on to Wednesday's day game, here's one last rehash of Tuesday night's Dodgers 5-4 loss to the Athletics in 10 innings, the latest in a growing series of bullpen failures by the Dodgers.

With a three-run lead in the eighth inning, Pedro Baez allowed a single and two doubles and two runs, then a third run got charged to his ledger when J.P. Howell allowed the tying single.

Then in the 10th, Yimi Garcia allowed a pair of doubles to give Oakland the win, after he pitched a scoreless ninth.

"It was good for a few days at home there, and I thought we were getting things in order. Then tonight happens," manager Don Mattingly said after the game. "Obviously we're going to have to find ways to get the ball from our starters to Kenley [Jansen]. We have guys who can do that, and I trust them to do that."

The bullpen was good last week, putting up a 2.70 ERA in 20 innings, with 22 strikeouts and just two walks. The Dodgers went 5-2.

Tuesday night was the Dodgers fifth blown lead in the seventh inning or later in 29 games since the All-Star break. Two of those leads were in the same game (Aug. 2 against the Angels), and the Dodgers would end up winning two of the four games in question.

But the numbers aren't pretty.

Before the All-Star break, Dodgers relievers had a 3.56 ERA and 3.06 FIP, allowing 21 home runs in 1,067 plate appearances, with opposing hitters batting .233/.300/.355.

Since the break, the ERA is a whopping 6.18, with a 4.67 FIP, and 16 home runs allowed in 355 plate appearances, and opposing batters hitting .297/.358/.502.

To put that in rough perspective, the Dodgers bullpen before the All-Star break made hitters look like 2015 Billy Butler, but after the break opposing batters have hit like 2012 Butler. But on Tuesday night, even 2015 Butler took advantage, hitting the game-winning walk-off double in the 10th.

"We need guys to step up. We have to have that bridge to be able to get the ball to Kenley. We have more than enough capable guys down there, but tonight wasn't their night," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "In the same situation tomorrow, we trust those guys to go back out. They're the ones capable of doing it."

If you want some form of solace, the xFIP in the first half was 3.47 with a 3.00 SIERA, and after the All-Star break has been 3.55 and 3.04, respectively.

If those numbers are more predictive than ERA, that could bode well since the Dodgers aren't likely to make any huge changes to the bullpen anytime soon. The seven pitchers — eight for the road trip, counting Mat Latos — are pretty much the seven most likely pitching important innings down the stretch.

"I feel like we're in a good spot. We have guys that are capable," Mattingly said. "These are our guys. We’re going to find a way to do it with this. And keep going."