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Dodgers come up short to Astros yet again

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The Dodgers got a hit, a few of them in fact on Friday night, and even scored a run. But it wasn't nearly enough, falling to the Astros 3-1 at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The Dodgers have lose four straight games, and fell to 0-6 in American League parks this season.

The team has also lost seven consecutive road games and fell to 25-35 away from home in 2015.

The Dodgers were behind from the start, when Jose Altuve opened the first inning with a triple, then with one out scored on a ground ball to Justin Turner, who might have had a shot at home plate had he fielded the ball cleanly. Instead, Turner picked up his third error in eight games since returning from the disabled list and the Astros picked up a 1-0 lead.

Scott Kazmir retired the first nine batters he faced, but Jimmy Rollins snapped that with a leadoff single in the fourth inning, snapping an 0-for-40 skid for the Dodgers that dated back to Wednesday in Oakland. But even when the Dodgers had something go their way, the tide quickly turned, as Rollins was thrown out on the play trying to stretch his single into a double.

In the fifth inning, Chase Utley tripled into the right field corner, but upon replay review his odd-bounce hit was shown to have hit the foul pole after bouncing, reducing his hit to a double. Utley was stranded on first base, running the Dodgers scoreless streak to 20 innings, again dating back to Wednesday in Oakland.

The Dodgers finally got on the board in the sixth, starting with Rollins hitting the 500th double of his career. Turner with one out snapped a personal 0-for-19 skid with an RBI single, followed by another single by Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers an actual rally.

But Kazmir recovered to strike out Scott Van Slyke and get Utley to ground out to end the threat.

Zack Greinke allowed a home run to Luis Valbuena in the second inning, giving Houston a 2-0 lead, but then recovered to retire his next 11 batters faced. That streak ended when Altuve muscled a ball into the Crawford Boxes in left field in the sixth inning, an immediate answer to the Dodgers scoring their first run of the game the previous half inning.

The two home runs allowed were a season high for Greinke, who hadn't allowed two homers in a game in almost exactly one year, since Aug. 23, 2014 against the Mets at Dodger Stadium.

After going 6-for-20 with a home run and three walks (.300/.391/.450) against relief pitchers in the first three games of this road trip, the Dodgers were 1-for-10 against Astros relievers Will Harris, Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson on Saturday, with five strikeouts.

Gonzalez opened the ninth with a leadoff single to bring the tying run to the plate, but Gregerson got the next three outs to close out the win.

It's hard not to be down on the Dodgers given the way they are playing at the moment, with four straight losses. Whether it is the inconsistent and at times inept offense or the unreliable and lately execrable bullpen, whichever culprit of choice is stated as the reason why the Dodgers won't win in October often makes me chuckle. Much like the Sundance Kid laughing heartily when Butch Cassidy tells him he can't swim.

"Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you!"

The Dodgers aren't dead yet, but showing proof of life anytime soon might go a long way toward peace of mind.

Up next

The Dodgers will try to salvage something, anything in the series finale on Sunday morning, with Clayton Kershaw on the mound. The Astros will call up Lance McCullers to make the 15th start of his rookie campaign. Sunday is an 11 a.m. PT start.

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Luis Valbuena (22), Jose Altuve (10)

WP - Scott Kazmir (7-8): 6 IP, 6 hits, 1 run, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts

LP - Zack Greinke (13-3): 7 IP, 3 hits, 3 runs, 5 strikeouts

Sv - Luke Gregerson (24): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout