Dodgers Shuffle Ethier, Kemp in Batting Order

It took 127 games, but manager Don Mattingly finally batted Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp somewhere different in the lineup. Ethier started 116 games in the third spot of the Dodgers lineup. Kemp started 125 games (all but one) in the cleanup spot. But with Ethier fighting through a 4-for-34 slump entering Monday's game, he was dropped to fifth in the lineup and Kemp was moved to third.

"I just want to give us a jump start a little bit," Mattingly explained to reporters, before the game. "We'll try to give Matt another at-bat a day and take a little pressure off 'Dre, a change of scenery. He's been struggling."

The new-look lineup, which included the suddenly warm James Loney batting second, was scoreless for eight innings against starter Chris Carpenter.

Then they scored two runs in the ninth -- on a Juan Rivera hit batsman (by Carpenter), an Aaron Miles triple (off Fernando Salas) and a Rod Barajas fielder's choice (off Jason Motte) bobbled by former Dodger Rafael Furcal -- for a stunning 2-1 victory.

Javy Guerra, coming off his first blown save in the majors on Saturday, provided an emphatic answer regarding his ability to bounce back. He retired Albert Pujols on an infield popup to start the inning, and wasn't fazed by a harmless two-out infield single, en route to his 11th save.

The order of the Dodgers' lineup didn't seem to matter in the game's outcome, but it was significant in that Mattingly went away from something that he wanted to do -- and that's leave Ethier and Kemp alone in the 3-4 spots, no matter what. It's also a sign that Mattingly is concerned with Ethier, who hasn't hit for much power all year, and now isn't hitting at all.

Ethier went 0-for-4, so his slump is now 4-for-38, dropping his average to .288 this year. He hit three harmless ground balls against Carpenter, and lefty Arthur Rhodes struck him out in the ninth.

Kemp went 0-for-4, striking out twice. Carpenter hung a breaking ball in the eighth inning, a pitch that Kemp doesn't miss often. Kemp just missed a go-ahead, two-run home run. Instead, it was a fly out to left field.

Billingsley's effort keeps Loney off mound
The Dodgers bullpen was so depleted going into Sunday's game that first baseman James Loney threw in the bullpen during batting practice to get loose, under the watchful eye of bullpen coach Ken Howell, just in case he was needed to pitch.

Loney was not needed, much to his disappointment, and that's a credit to starting pitcher Chad Billingsley. In a ballpark in which he has never pitched well -- witness his 7.88 ERA at Coors Field entering the start -- Billingsley lasted 7 2/3 innings Sunday in the Dodgers' 5-3 loss to the Rockies.

Billingsley's effort stabilized the pitching staff after a 13-inning game Saturday that required all seven relievers to pitch and was made worse by Ted Lilly needing to depart in the fifth inning because of a stiff neck.

Javy Guerra and Scott Elbert probably weren't available, and Matt Guerrier was available for only a batter or two. Starter Hiroki Kuroda didn't throw his bullpen session before Sunday's game and volunteered to pitch if needed.

Billingsley provided the innings needed but not the results. Carlos Gonzalez hit a two-run home run in the first inning off him, but the Dodgers rallied with single runs in the second, third and fourth innings to take a 3-2 lead.

Leadoff walks in the fifth and sixth innings didn't hurt Billingsley. But a one-out walk in the seventh to Jason Giambi preceded a two-run homer by Seth Smith for a 4-3 Rockies lead. A walk, error, sacrifice bunt, intentional walk and sacrifice fly by Troy Tulowitzki made it 5-3 in the eighth.

Hong-Chih Kuo got the final out in the eighth (and has now struck out four straight batters), so no other relievers had to pitch. The Dodgers bullpen was given the rest it needed, and Loney remained at first base all day.

Loney was a highly regarded pitching prospect out of Elkins High in Missouri City, Texas (near Houston). Baseball America ranked him the 46th-best pitching prospect after he went 9-1 with a 1.80 ERA and 106 strikeouts in 54 innings as a senior. But the Dodgers liked him as a hitter more, and he has never pitched in the minors or majors.

"He told me he could pick guys off," manager Don Mattingly said before the game. "I just want him to throw strikes. He thinks he's coming in in the eighth with second and third and he'll punch out two guys. He's kind of excited."

Mattingly wasn't excited about using any position player and said it would happen only if "it was one of those weird games." He was already preparing for Loney's left arm to feel sore Monday, just based on the bullpen session, because he's not used to throwing that hard.

Loney has often "messed around" throwing off a mound since the Dodgers drafted him but admitted that Sunday's "touch and feel" was "a little more serious." He worked on four pitches -- fastball, sinker, curve and changeup -- in the bullpen.

California Surfin'
James Loney doubled home a run in the second inning Saturday and connected on his sixth homer this year in the fourth inning -- his third at Coors Field. That's no surprise. Since 2006, Loney's 52 RBI at Coors Field are the second-most RBI by any visiting player.

Loney went 4-for-4 on Sunday, earning the promotion to the No. 2 spot in the order, and responded with three more singles, giving him seven hits in his last eight at-bats.

"We're going California surfing with James, riding the wave," Mattingly said. "I don't envision James in the two-hole all the time, but (Monday) he's the guy." Since he doesn't hit many home runs and used to have a good on-base percentage (.357 in 2009 and .329 in 2010, before .314 this year), that second spot actually makes sense for Loney.

Perhaps Mattingly will ride that wave a little longer with Loney.

--RHP Nathan Eovaldi allowed his first home run in the majors, a solo shot by Lance Berkman in the second inning, and that was his only run allowed in five innings. In all four career starts, Eovaldi's allowed two runs or less. Eovaldi's been very good at not giving up home runs in his brief career. At Class AA Chattanooga, Eovaldi allowed three in 103 innings this year. Overall, he's served up eight home runs in 308.1 minor league innings.

--UT Eugenio Velez went 0-for-3 on Monday, running his season-long hitless streak to 25 at-bats this year since getting called up from the minors. The last Dodger to start his career 0-for-25 was J.D. Drew in 2005, and the only other worse starts are by pitchers. Velez was hitless in his last 11 at-bats at Class AAA Albuquerque, so his last hit anywhere was June 30. --C Rod Barajas picked up his first infield single of the season in the second inning, and it was his first since Sept. 1, 2009 as a Blue Jay. Considering he missed the last 2 1/2 games with a mild groin strain, legging out the single was a quick test of how much he's healed -- and that he caught all nine innings is a good sign.

--3B Casey Blake didn't start for a fifth straight day, since departing Wednesday's game with a recurrence of a pinched nerve in his neck that put on the DL earlier this season. Blake pinch hit in the ninth, bouncing into a double play, and remained in the game at first base in the ninth. He could start Tuesday. Doctors have warned Blake this condition could worsen and he's concerned about his life after baseball. For now, Blake is hopeful an offseason of rest will allow the neck to heal.

--RHP Kenley Jansen struck out two, and retired the side in order, in a rehab outing Sunday for Class A Rancho Cucamonga. Jansen will also pitch Tuesday, then is expected to come off the disabled list Friday, when the Dodgers open a homestand against the Rockies.

--CF Matt Kemp was thrown out trying to steal twice Saturday, nearly picked off second base Sunday, and has made four outs on the bases in six games on this road trip. Kemp extended his hitting streak to 11 games Sunday, going 2-for-4, and was robbed of a likely game-tying double in the eighth inning by Rockies third baseman Chris Nelson.

--C Dioner Navarro went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts, allowed a passed ball and committed an error that led to an unearned run. His batting average is down to .193 this year.

--RF Andre Ethier returned to the starting lineup. He didn't play Friday because of an ingrown toenail on his right foot but pinch-hit in the eighth inning Saturday and ended up playing six innings in right field afterward.

--OF Trent Oeltjen hit an inside-the-park home run in Saturday's game, the first by a Dodger since Blake DeWitt did it on May 6, 2008 against the Mets at Dodger Stadium.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1,000 -- Number of victories by the Dodgers all-time against the St. Louis Cardinals, after Monday's come-from-behind effort. In the all-time series, the Cardinals lead 1,001-1,000. The Dodgers held the all-time advantage until recently. They are now 5-21 in St. Louis, going back to the 2004 season.

BY THE NUMBERS: 0 -- Pitchers in Dodgers history who have allowed 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a single season. A home run by Todd Helton on Saturday was the 27th allowed this year by Ted Lilly. Eric Young Jr. stole three bases in the game, increasing Lilly's total to a majors-worst 29 (in 31 attempts). Controlling the running game wasn't a problem for Lilly until recent years. There were only 12 stolen bases against Lilly in 2008 and 2009, then 20 last year, and he's on pace for 38 this year.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think playing through injuries is part of the game. Guys have been doing it since the game started. When (Abner) Doubleday invented it, I'm guessing guys were playing through injuries. ... I don't know if it was getting worse. It wasn't getting much better. I felt mechanically, I was getting worse." -- LHP Ted Lilly, on getting removed in the fifth inning Saturday because of a stiff neck after he slept on it wrong. He expects to make his next start Friday at home against the Rockies.

QUOTE TO NOTE 2: "I have a contract and a commitment to the Dodgers. Until somebody tells me otherwise, that is where my focus is and where my efforts will be." -- Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti's statement, whenever he is asked about the GM opening with the Chicago Cubs. Media speculation has dropped Colletti's name frequently, since he grew up in the Chicago suburbs and started his baseball career as a public relations man with the Cubbies.

--C Rod Barajas (pulled groin) was injured Aug. 19 and didn't play Aug. 20-21 but returned to the lineup on Aug. 22.

--3B Casey Blake (pinched nerve in neck) had to leave the game Aug. 17 and didn't play Aug. 19-22. He's day-to-day.

--RF Andre Ethier (infected ingrown toenail) didn't play Aug. 19 but was available to pinch-hit, then didn't start Aug. 20 but came into the game late and played six innings. He was back in the lineup Aug. 21. --SS Dee Gordon (bruised right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 10. He has begun baseball activities. --RHP Rubby De La Rosa (sprained ulnar collateral ligament in right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list Aug. 1. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery Aug. 9. --RHP Kenley Jansen (irregular heartbeat) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 27. He was hospitalized after the July 26 game, and he was released from the hospital July 27. He will end his three weeks on blood thinners Aug. 19 and started a minor league rehabilitation assignment Aug. 21. He is expected to return on Aug. 26.

--INF Juan Uribe (abdominal strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 24 with what originally was called a left hip strain. Uribe was taking batting practice every day in mid-August, but he hadn't improved enough to be able to run the bases. He got a cortisone shot to numb his left hip. With rehab games still needed, he won't return until rosters expand in September.

--RHP Jonathan Broxton (bone bruise on right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 4. He threw a bullpen session June 7. He made rehab appearances on June 21 and 23 for Class AAA Albuquerque, but he felt tightness in his elbow when playing catch June 25, and he was shut down from throwing. He was cleared to begin a throwing program in early August, and he might be able to return in early September.

--RHP Vicente Padilla (right radial nerve irritation, sore neck) went on the 15-day disabled list May 14 due to the arm injury. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Rancho Cucamonga on May 29, but he was shut down in early June due to a neck ailment. He underwent neck surgery June 16, and he likely will miss the rest of the season.

--RHP Jon Garland (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 2. He played catch June 21 but had to shut it down quickly. He underwent season-ending surgery during the All-Star break and began his rehab.

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