Dodgers Offense is Sizzling

Ever since Dodger Stadium was literally on fire, the Dodgers offense has been figuratively on fire. The Dodgers banged out 11 more hits in a 7-1 victory over the Rockies on Monday, the day after scoring eight runs on 17 hits, and two nights after a small warehouse fire on the eighth level of the stadium had smoke making its way down to the playing field.

It's the Dodgers' second-biggest offensive output in consecutive games this year. The only better sequence was a 12-8-7 stretch of runs over a three-game series at Wrigley Field in late April.

"It's contagious hitting," right fielder Andre Ethier said. "Teams look over and see you can't pitch around guys. You can't be too careful. You have to attack everyone. It provides opportunities for everyone. Me and Matty (Kemp) know we have to bring it every day. When guys get hits around us, we know it's time to roll."

Most encouraging for the Dodgers, the primary contributors were some players whom they were counting on going into the season yet hadn't pitched in until recently.

Rafael Furcal, who was batting .125 before Saturday's game, turned in his third straight multi-hit game Monday and reached base three times.

Ethier was in a 2-for-31 slump going into Friday's game, which dropped his average from .362 to .311. Since then, he's gone 8-for-14 with two doubles and a home run.

He delivered a two-run single Monday with the bases loaded in the third, and another RBI single up the middle two innings later. With the bases loaded, the Dodgers were previously batting .122, scoring just 21 of the 165 total baserunners -- so that was welcome news.

"When you get that leadoff hitter on base in front of the 3 and 4 guys, it's a big help," Ethier said. "It's tough going up there hitting third or fourth and nobody on base, or two outs. With (Furcal) hitting and Jamey Carroll getting on base a lot, it takes the pressure off you."

James Loney homered Monday for the second time in four games, after going 45 games between home runs. That was part of a three-hit and three-RBI game for him. Loney is batting 32-for-99 (.323) in his last 31 games.

"I feel really good," Loney said. "Just trying to square the ball up more than not. Just having that confidence, knowing that you belong out there."

NOTES, QUOTES --RHP Chad Billingsley lowered his home ERA to 1.71, sixth lowest in the majors this year, after giving up one run in seven innings against the Rockies. It wasn't an easy seven innings, though. Billingsley scattered 11 hits and walked two batters. The leadoff batter reached base in each inning except the first. Billingsley has won two consecutive starts, after losing the previous three, to even his record at 4-4.

--CF Matt Kemp threw out Carlos Gonzalez at home plate in the first inning, a great throw on the fly from center field. It was his third outfield assist this year, equaling his total from a year ago. Kemp compiled 14 outfield assists when he won a Gold Glove winner in 2009, and he had 16 the year before. Kemp also stole his 14th base of the season, which set up 1B James Loney's two-out, RBI single in the third inning.

--INF Jamey Carroll didn't have a hit since Rafael Furcal was activated from the disabled list, going into Monday's game. Carroll snapped that 0-for-15 funk with two hits, including a triple, and he scored twice.

--3B Casey Blake didn't start Monday. He'd played in seven straight games, including his rehab stint, and manager Don Mattingly felt he was dragging a little Sunday. Blake was 7-for-20 (.350) with a double, triple and home run against the Rockies' starter Monday, RHP Jason Hammel.

--OF Marcus Thames (strained right quad) went 0-for-4 in his second rehab game for Triple-A Albuquerque. He's 1-for-7, the one hit a home run, in the two games.

Kershaw nearly unhittable vs. Marlins
Like most pitchers, Clayton Kershaw gives up more runs and more walks in the first inning than any other inning. As a result, whenever Kershaw has a 1-2-3 first inning, with his ability, a no-hitter is always a possibility.

Kershaw allowed his first hit in the third inning Sunday, so there was never any no-hit drama. But that hit was a bloop single to left, and the only other hit Kershaw allowed was a wind-blown and sun-aided double in the seventh.

Beyond that, Kershaw was unhittable.
v Kershaw struck out 10, walked one and completed his first shutout at Dodger Stadium as the Dodgers won their first series in a month, beating the Marlins 8-0 in the rubber game of the weekend series.

"When that guy is pitching, I always think we're going to win," shortstop Rafael Furcal said. "This was the best I've ever seen him today."

Added manager Don Mattingly: "He was really good. Right out of the gate, using all his pitches right away. He's one of those guys. He's got all four (pitches) and when he uses all of them, the hitters can't think one direction or another. He's tough."

The only thing tougher than Kershaw was the wind and sun. It was easily the windiest day at Dodger Stadium in many years. Jay Gibbons lost a ball in left field for the second hit, and admitted he was grateful for being removed for defensive purposes.

After losing one ball, on the next play, Gibbons broke back on a flyball and retreated to the warning track. Meanwhile, Furcal went back into shallow left, then had to run to near the edge of the infield dirt and dropped the popup for an error.

"It didn't affect me," Kershaw said. "It was swirling in the outfield; it was tough to catch pop flies. It was the hardest I've ever seen the wind blow here. It was definitely unusual."

The eight runs of support, very unusual for the Dodgers offense, ensured that Kershaw wouldn't get lifted for a pinch hitter and would get every chance to complete the game. His arm was fresh too, since he'd thrown 85 and 84 pitches in those two previous starts, due to getting lifted early for a pinch hitter.

Kershaw used 116 pitches in going the distance, retiring the final seven batters of the game. All 10 strikeouts came in the first six innings.

He's making a strong case for All-Star Game consideration. Kershaw is eighth in ERA, first in strikeouts, one behind the league leader in wins, seventh in opponents' batting average, eighth in opponents' on-base percentage, and fifth in opponents' slugging percentage.

--RHP Kenley Jansen was placed on the disabled list before Sunday's game with right shoulder inflammation. An MRI was clean, and he'll report to the Dodgers spring training complex in Arizona. Jansen becomes the fifth member of the Dodgers bullpen currently on the disabled list.

--RHP Josh Lindblom was recalled from Class AA Chattanooga to take Kenley Jansen's place. Lindblom was a highly touted prospect who nearly made the 2010 opening-day roster, then had a horrendous season at Class AAA Albuquerque. He wasn't invited to this year's training camp at all, but earned his first big-league promotion by posting a 2.96 ERA in 19 appearances with seven saves, striking out 33 in 24.1 innings, and allowing a .250 opponents average.

--RHP Travis Schlichting was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Josh Lindblom. Schlichting had brief cameos with the big club the last two seasons. His ERA was 6.55 at Class AAA Albuquerque, and he'd walked 14 batters against 12 strikeouts in 22 innings.

--RHP Vicente Padilla's first rehab assignment went well for Single-A Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.). He pitched two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out one. Padilla hasn't pitched more than an inning in the majors, but he's still being groomed to return as a reliever, not a starting pitcher.

--OF Marcus Thames began a rehab assignment Sunday for Triple-A Albuquerque, and went 1-for-3. He lined into a double play in the first inning, hit a solo homer to straightaway center in the third, and popped out to second base in the fifth. Thames hasn't played in the majors since May 3, so the Dodgers would like to see him get 25-30 at-bats. Of course, the Dodgers said the same thing with Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake -- and they didn't come close to getting that many at-bats. There isn't the rush to get Thames back, so he's more likely to get the full plate appearances preferred.

--RF Jay Gibbons is finally putting together his best consistent at-bats of the season. He reached base safely in all six games of the Dodgers' recent road trip, then went 3-for-4 with an RBI on Sunday against the Marlins. His batting average is up to .239, a season high.

BY THE NUMBERS: 4 -- Hall of Fame broadcasters working the Dodgers-Marlins series. Vin Scully, in his 62nd season with the Dodgers going back to Brooklyn, was elected to the Broadcaster's wing of the Hall of Fame as the Ford C. Frick award winner in 1982. Dodgers Spanish play-by-play man Jaime Jarrin, in his 53rd season, was the Frick winner in 1998. Rafael "Felo" Ramirez is the Marlins' Spanish announcer since their inception in 1993, and was tapped by the Hall in 2001. This July, Dave Van Horne will be enshrined after 43 years broadcasting baseball and 11 with the Marlins.

BY THE NUMBERS: 43 -- Home runs by SS Rafael Furcal as a member of the Dodgers. Furcal, in his sixth year with the team, is one away from Glenn Wright's total for second place among Dodgers shortstops. The leader is Pee Wee Reese with 122 home runs over 16 seasons. Furcal's 14 leadoff homers as a Dodger rank second behind first-base coach Davey Lopes' 28.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "The last few years, we've gone through times like this. It leaves you scratching your head. It's putting hits and innings together. That's what it's about, getting guys on and putting innings together, coming up with big hits. I think when a team is in a funk, guys want to press a bit -- either to get on base, or trying too hard to pick up their team. We need to realize to let the game come to us and try not to do too much, and let it happen." -- 3B Casey Blake, on the Dodgers' hitting woes. This month, the Dodgers were shut out twice, held to one run eight times, two runs three times, and three runs five times.

QUOTE TO NOTE II: "Just confidence. Just having confidence in myself. I stopped worrying about next week and next year and went back to the pitcher I was, went back to the basics." -- RHP Josh Lindblom, who was called up from Class AA Chattanooga on Sunday, on the difference between this year (when he pitched really well to earn the promotion) and last year (when he allowed 143 hits in 95 innings). Lindblom added that after shuffling between the rotation and the bullpen, he has been helped mentally by knowing that his role is in relief.

--RHP Kenley Jansen (right shoulder inflammation) was placed on the disabled list May 29. An MRI was clean, and he'll report to the Dodgers spring training complex in Arizona.
--INF Juan Uribe (strained left hip flexor) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 21. He might begin a rehab assignment in early June.
--RHP Vicente Padilla (right radial nerve irritation) went on the 15-day disabled list May 14. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Rancho Cucamonga on May 29.
--RHP Blake Hawksworth (strained right groin) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 11. He had a setback during his rehab and was examined May 27 for a possible hip injury in addition to the groin problem.
--LHP Hong-Chih Kuo (anxiety disorder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 10. How long he will be out is a mystery. The exact issues affecting Kuo also are a mystery.
--RHP Jonathan Broxton (bone bruise on right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 4. He might resume throwing off a mound in early June. He is expected to be out until mid-June.
--OF Marcus Thames (strained right quad) went on the 15-day disabled list May 3. He began a rehab assignment at Class AAA Albuquerque on May 29.
--C Hector Gimenez (sore right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 9. He had arthroscopic surgery April 26, and was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 13.


   LHP Clayton Kershaw
   RHP Chad Billingsley
   LHP Ted Lilly
   RHP Hiroki Kuroda
   RHP Jon Garland
   RHP Matt Guerrier
   LHP Scott Elbert
   RHP Josh Lindblom
   RHP Javy Guerra
   RHP Rubby De La Rosa
   RHP Mike MacDougal
   RHP Ramon Troncoso

   Rod Barajas
   Dioner Navarro

   1B James Loney
   3B Jamey Carroll
   SS Rafael Furcal
   3B Casey Blake
   INF Aaron Miles
   INF Juan Castro

   LF Tony Gwynn Jr.
   CF Matt Kemp
   RF Andre Ethier
   OF Jay Gibbons
   OF/INF Jerry Sands