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06 09 09 - The Armenian Youth Federation was =artying hard in the ballroom,
LA Times-Sports, (From Annette melikian -USA)
L.A. begins a 10-game stretch with a lackluster 6-3 loss to the Brewers, who =ad dropped 10 in a row.
By Steve =enson, Times Staff Writer. September 5, 2006

MILWAUKEE — Sleepless nights often are followed by disturbing =ays. So the Dodgers might have expected their 6-3 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers =n Monday the moment they checked into their hotel shortly after =idnight.

The Armenian Youth Federation was =artying hard in the ballroom, and the din didn't let up until 5 a.m. They were =riendly enough kids, telling Nomar Garciaparra they missed him in Boston and, oh yeah, they missed him in Chicago too. But the discordant music, the whoops and hollers, the tinkling =lasses, this was no way to begin a 10-game, three-city trip during a tight =ennant race.

In case the Dodgers wondered, the throbbing beat they heard through =heir walls came from an oud (a =tring instrument used by ancient Egyptians) and a dumbeg (an hourglass-shaped drum with a lambskin head).

The beat went on at Miller Park. The =rewers ended a 10-game losing streak by pounding Greg Maddux like a dumbeg, =coring three runs in the fifth inning and two in the sixth.

It marked the third time in his last four starts Maddux (12-12) has been =it hard.

"They had good at-bats," he said. "I missed my locations = few times, but they hit me too."

One blow was literal. With a runner on second and one out in the fifth =nning with the score tied, 1-1, Maddux stopped Brady Clark's comebacker with =is leg. The ball rolled only a couple feet in front of him, but he couldn't =ocate it, looking to the back of the mound and taking a step toward the rosin bag =s if he'd mistook it for the ball.

"I just couldn't find it," he said. "It's hard to see sometimes."

The result was a single that opened the floodgates. Seven of the next 10 batters had hits, all against Maddux except the finale, a two-run double =y Tony Graffanino in the sixth on a pitch by reliever Giovanni =arrara.

It was quite an outburst from a team that batted .213 and averaged fewer =han three runs during its 10-game skid.

"Greg got a couple of pitches up and over the middle of the =late," Manager Grady Little said. "He's certainly had better days with his command."

Dodgers starters are following poor days with poorer ones. Only Derek =owe is pitching consistently well, Chad Billingsley's next start was pushed =ack again because of his strained side, Brad Penny isn't getting deep into games =nd Maddux more closely resembled the struggling pitcher who posted a 4.69 earned-run average in 22 starts with the Cubs than the savior who had =een 3-0 with a 2.37 ERA in six starts with the Dodgers.

"If we have to continue going into the bullpen in the sixth inning, =t will be difficult," Little said. "Our bullpen is deep, but if =e need those guys early on a regular basis, it will catch up with us in a =urry."

Carrara, back with the team after being designated for assignment two weeks ago, =eplaced Maddux with the bases loaded and the score 4-3. He got two strikes on Graffanino but couldn't get him out.

The Dodgers' offense, feisty to that point, withered. Right-hander Dave =ush (10-10) lasted 7 1/3 innings, and two relievers had no trouble.

The best opportunity came in the sixth. Kenny Lofton led off with a =ingle, stole his 25th base and scored on a single by J.D. Drew, who also =oubled twice. Jeff Kent hit a ground-rule double and Andre Ethier walked, =oading the bases with one out.

Wilson Betemit struck out, however, and although Russell Martin singled =o bring in Drew, =st1:country-region w:st="on">Kent was thrown out at the =late by left fielder Corey Hart, leaving the Dodgers behind, 4-3.

At least they were able to catch up on their sleep Monday night. The =rmenian Youth Federation checked out after an invigorating breakfast of basturma (cured Armenian beef), =ggs and foule (fava beans).

It wasn't the first time the Dodgers have shared a hotel with a =oisterous group. About 20 years ago a gospel singers convention kept them awake in =st1:City w:st="on">Atlanta, and more than 40 years ago in Milwaukee, revelers were so loud =hat several players ducked into a theater during the day to catch a few winks before =he game.

This is no time for fatigue. The Dodgers' lead over the San Diego Padres =n the National League West shrank to two games, thanks to the Padres' 7-5 =ictory over Colorado.

"If we keep playing this way on this trip," Little said, =quot;we'll be doing everything we can to keep the race =lose."


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