OAKLAND -- The Dodgers on Wednesday night did what they've been doing best lately, wasting another Nathan Eovaldi quality start in a 4-1 Interleague loss to the Oakland A's.
In five starts this year, Eovaldi is winless with a total of three runs of support while he's in the game.
"We're testing him," manager Don Mattingly said.
Of course, the current Dodgers offense is testing the entire rotation, not just Eovaldi. With Matt Kemp and Mark Ellis out, Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis and Jerry Hairston slumping, and no bat for opponents to fear, the Dodgers have been held to fewer than three runs in 12 of their past 25 games.
"We're without that one guy in the lineup they're completely terrified of," catcher A.J. Ellis said when asked if opponents approach the Dodgers differently without Kemp. "Andre is still an All-Star kind of player, but without his buddy, we're missing the two-headed monster that's tough to get through."
Los Angeles scored one run on five hits in 18 innings against Oakland, a combined two-hitter Tuesday night followed by rookie Tommy Milone's first complete game Wednesday night, a three-hitter. National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw is tasked with avoiding a series sweep in Thursday's finale.
Mattingly shied from the Kemp factor and explained away the recent run reduction to opponents and their big ballparks.
"They know the ball is not going anywhere and we're not going to hit a lot of balls in the seats," he said. "They know exactly how to play here. They attacked us.
"I think this is a time to not panic, that's what we can do. We're going through a stretch where we're having trouble scratching for runs. Places like this, Seattle, it's hard for us to score a lot of runs. Their pitchers attacked us. Their pitch counts were down, that means they're throwing strikes."
Even though they no longer have the best record in baseball, the Dodgers own a 4 1/2-game lead atop the NL West.
Eovaldi made it through six innings on 100 pitches, charged with three runs. He's 0-3 subbing for Ted Lilly in the rotation, despite a 2.35 ERA. The Dodgers are 0-5 in his starts.
"I know they'll score runs for me," said Eovaldi, dismissing any negative Karma.
Nonetheless, the only one he got in the second inning was tainted. With two outs and Juan Rivera on second base, Juan Uribe hit a soft fly ball off Milone to shallow right field. Outfielder Josh Reddick got to the ball in time to make a reaching catch, but he followed through by tumbling over and the ball flew out of his glove as Rivera scored. It was ruled a double.
"Early on in the game, I felt like they were hitting some balls pretty hard up in the air, which is good here at the Coliseum, because it's such a big park," said Milone. "Guys in the outfield were tracking them all down."
Eovaldi got away with leadoff four-pitch walks in the first and second innings, but the A's tied the game in the fourth with doubles on back-to-back pitches. Yoenis Cespedes (who had two hits and two hard-hit outs) led off with a double into the left-field corner and scored when Seth Smith followed with a double to left-center field off the glove of center fielder Tony Gwynn.
Eovaldi lapsed himself into a big mess in the fifth after a leadoff single by No. 9 hitter Eric Sogard (.145 average) and a walk to Coco Crisp (.205). Jemile Weeks dropped a perfect sacrifice bunt that was fielded by Eovaldi. Catcher A.J. Ellis urged a throw to first, but Eovaldi initially looked at third base and then rushed a throw to first that Weeks beat to load the bases.
"I just looked at third. I don't know why," said Eovaldi. "It was a perfect bunt. I should have gone to first."
Reddick bounced into a double play as Sogard scored the tie-breaking run with Crisp taking third, and Crisp scored on Cespedes' bloop single to left for a 3-1 lead. Oakland's final run came on an eighth-inning homer by Brandon Moss off Scott Elbert.
Meanwhile, Milone retired 14 consecutive batters between a second-inning walk to Gwynn and a seventh-inning infield single by Hairston that snapped an 0-for-19 drought.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.