BALTIMORE -- Since Zack Greinke was injured, the Dodgers have lost seven of eight, including both ends of a make-up doubleheader against the Orioles on Saturday, when they dropped the nightcap, 6-1. The Orioles took Game 1, 7-5.
The clubhouse on the night Greinke suffered his broken collarbone in San Diego was filled with anger and despair, despite a win on the field. So maybe the Dodgers have never recovered -- the possible explanation for a $230 million roster now in the throes of a six-game losing streak.
Or maybe not.
"There was that immediate hangover in Arizona," conceded catcher A.J. Ellis, "but we've moved on past that. Everything's over-magnified at the beginning of the season. We'll get the tough stretch out of the way early and play winning baseball. Just need to shake hands [after a win] and get that feeling back."
Of course, losing Greinke's arm from the rotation is grounds enough for a falloff or he wouldn't have been paid $147 million. But even when Greinke was healthy, the Dodgers weren't hitting and they still aren't. And since Greinke went down, the bullpen hasn't been the same, either, whether or not those dots connect.
Offensively, the Dodgers got a three-run homer from Andre Ethier in the first inning of the opener, but scored only two more over the final eight innings as Hyun-Jin Ryu gave up a three-run lead and the bullpen lost the game in the bottom of the eighth.
Then in the nightcap, Josh Beckett was given a 1-0 lead in the first inning, and the Dodgers didn't get any of their nine baserunners past first the rest of the way. Beckett was battered by Manny Machado for a home run on Beckett's 108th and last pitch, a double, a single and four RBIs. Beckett was coming off a tough 1-0 loss in Arizona, where he took a shutout into the ninth inning but lost, and his record is now 0-3.
"Their guys made pitches in key situations and I didn't," said Beckett, who also allowed a home run to Chris Davis for a total of six homers allowed in 25 innings this year.
Less obvious, but possibly as important, was the fifth inning. With one out and the score tied, Nate McLouth worked an 0-2 count into a 10-pitch walk, stole second, took third on Ellis' throwing error and scored on the double by Machado, who was doubled home by Adam Jones. With that, Baltimore would have won even without Machado's home run an inning later.
Whether it's a starting rotation missing its co-ace or a sputtering offense missing Hanley Ramirez and getting virtually nothing from the bottom of the order, the Dodgers keep talking about stepping up, but don't seem to be doing it.
Excluding Nick Punto at an impressive .444, the members of the rotating left side of the infield replacing Ramirez are batting: Luis Cruz, .087; Juan Uribe, .158, Justin Sellers, .186. Including Punto, the quartet has six RBIs combined.
"We're digging ourselves a bad hole," said Ethier, who had the most RBIs among Dodgers on Saturday. "You can say it's too early to worry about it, but we've got to go out and force it. You can't say it's a bad hop or a bad break. Winning is contagious, and so is losing, and that's not something you want to stay in the habit of doing.
"Guys have to step up and figure a way to get the job done. The pitching staff is doing its job. Tonight, the offense didn't step up to what the pitchers were able to do. It's frustrating beyond belief."
If it's frustrating to Ethier, who is signed through 2017, imagine what must be going through the mind of manager Don Mattingly, who is signed through October. He has an ownership expecting a championship, and his club is knocking on the cellar door.
"I'm concerned enough that we've got to play better, but not to the point where I'm not confident in the club," said Mattingly, in no mood to celebrate his 52nd birthday. "I know we've got a good club. It hasn't gone our way yet. We're struggling. We've got to get a couple wins and we can rattle off eight to 10 wins, and all of a sudden, we have a different club. We've got to get over the hill.
"There's a time you feel like you just need to win a game, and it feels like one of those times. It's kind of like being in a hitting streak and feeling like you really want a hit and need a hit, and really, that's not the way to play. I'm happy with the effort today. We battled all day, and it didn't work out. Tomorrow's a new day. We have to turn the page at 18 games and look down the road and put this behind us. I'd like to get those games back, but we're not going to get them back. We have to put it behind us."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.