13 Dodgers Homers Make for Happy Trip

The Dodgers hit 13 home runs on their 10-game road trip. Considering they've hit 92 in 129 games this year, that's a lot by their standards. Matt Kemp hit one of those home runs, and the only surprise is that he hit only one (in three good-hitting ballparks). The victory gave the Dodgers the lead in their all-time series with the Cardinals, which was knotted at 1,001 games apiece.

The names and numbers for the other 11 would surprise you: two by Aaron Miles, two by Tony Gwynn Jr., four by Rod Barajas, one by Trent Oeltjen (an inside-the-park), one by James Loney, one by Juan Rivera, and even one by A.J. Ellis on Wednesday.

The home run by Ellis was his first in the majors, in his first game back in the majors after a promotion from the minors on Tuesday, as the Dodgers capped a three-game sweep of the Cardinals with a 9-4 victory at Busch Stadium.

The Dodgers went 5-5 on the road trip, and that's remarkable considering they started 2-5 and came into St. Louis with a record of 4-21 there since 2004. It was their first road sweep of the year and their first three-game sweep (or more) in St. Louis since August 20-22, 1993. It was also the first-ever series sweep at New Busch Stadium.

All the home runs were a pleasant sight to behold for the Dodgers and a reminder of what's been lacking this year. Kemp leads the way with 29. The runner-up is the platoon catcher Barajas with 14.

The main culprits in the missing power: Andre Ethier (31 two years ago, 23 last year, 10 this year); Juan Uribe (24 last year, 4 this year); Casey Blake (18 two years ago, 17 last year, 4 this year); and James Loney (13 two years ago, 10 last year, 6 this year).

Home runs -- in the majors or minors -- are pretty rare for Ellis, so his teammates gave him "the silent treatment" when he returned to the dugout. Ellis saw nobody paying attention, so he went straight down into the clubhouse. Then he returned and was mobbed by his excited teammates.

Ellis once hit eight home runs, back in 2007 for then-Double-A Jacksonville. He hit four in 2008, then none in 2009 and none last year.

At Triple-A Albuquerque in July, Ellis proved he did have some power by hitting his first homer in two years and then added another the same week.

The timing was great for Ellis. He was promoted from the minors the day before and knows he'll stay in the majors the rest of the season because Dioner Navarro was designated for assignment. Ellis and Barajas will share the playing time at least this week.

Once the Pacific Coast League season ends, newly acquired Tim Federowicz is expected to get called up and share the playing time with Ellis for the final month. Federowicz has decent pop: 14 homers in 2009, 4 last year and 12 so far this year.

Following tomorrow's off-day, the club opens a stretch of 24 games in 24 days with a six-game homestand against the Rockies and Padres.

NOTES, QUOTES
--RHP Hiroki Kuroda, who received laughable run support for the first four-plus months of the season, has gotten seven, eight and nine runs in his last three starts. Kuroda surrendered three runs on nine baserunners Wednesday in seven innings en route to his 10th win. His highest win total in the United States was 11 last year. Kuroda has opened the season's second half with seven consecutive quality starts, which is the longest streak for a Dodger this season. The 36-year-old has won his last two starts and has posted a 2.42 ERA since the All-Star break.

--3B Casey Blake made his first start since Aug. 17, a full week of games. The injury was originally called a right shoulder injury, but it's more a recurrence of the neck strain that put him on the disabled list earlier this season. Blake singled home a run in the Dodgers' six-run third inning.

--RHP Kenley Jansen pitched another scoreless inning, with two more strikeouts, on Tuesday for Class A Rancho Cucamonga in his second and final rehab appearance. The Dodgers are off Thursday, and Jansen was activated from the disabled list on Friday with rookie Josh Lindblom optioned out to make room.

--SS Dee Gordon is expected to start a two-game rehab assignment on Thursday, likely at nearby Class A Rancho Cucamonga. Barring a setback, he's scheduled to get activated from the DL before Saturday's game.

--LHP Ted Lilly will make his scheduled start Friday against the Rockies, thanks to the work of club acupuncturist Ichiro Tani. Lilly admitted he was doubtful it would work because he didn't understand the science of acupuncture. Lilly felt a bad kink in his neck after sleeping on it wrong during the last road trip and lasted only 4 2/3 innings. Concerned he wouldn't make the start, Lilly tried acupuncture and noticed the difference immediately after getting off the table.

--Clayton Kershaw struck out eight over 6.0 scoreless innings Tuesday to pick up his 16th win of the season, tying Arizona's Ian Kennedy for the National League lead. Kershaw's 16 wins are already the most for a Dodger left-hander since Fernando Valenzuela went 21-11 in 1986. The 23-year-old crossed over the 200-strikeout plateau in the win, becoming the first Dodger to punch out 200 or more in back-to-back seasons since Kevin Brown in 1999 and 2000.

BY THE NUMBERS: 12 -- Wild pitches by Hiroki Kuroda this year, tied for the most in the league. In third place was the opposing starter, Cardinals LHP Jaime Garcia, who bounced one in the dirt in the third inning for his 11th wild pitch. Kuroda also had 12 wild pitches last year, after five apiece in 2008 and 2009.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "He hasn't been fighting himself too bad lately. I know his knee barks now and then. With tomorrow off, it will be good to get him a couple days." -- Manager Don Mattingly, on giving a day off to right fielder Andre Ethier. The All-Star went 2-for-27 on the road trip and is 4-for-45 in the last 13 games.

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