Dodgers Inside Report - September 14

   Five home runs during a six-game stretch, through Wednesday, does not make Dodgers first baseman James Loney a power hitter. At least that's his take on the subject. "I just try to hit the ball hard," he offered as an explanation, with a laugh. "I only hit eight (home runs) in my senior year in high school."

   Loney started his power surge with a home run in Chicago on Sept. 6. He hit two home runs the following day at San Francisco and hit one in each of the Dodgers' first two games against the Padres this week. He said that he's as surprised as anyone about the home runs.

   Loney has a point. He hit one home run in 58 minor league games this season -- and it came in his first at-bat of the year. He hit 36 home runs in 587 games as a minor-leaguer. He has 15 home runs in 127 major league games.

   "I'm not a guy who is up there trying to hit home runs but at the same time I do try to hit it hard at someone," Loney said. "I'm glad they're coming now, though, during this stretch where we're pushing for the playoffs."

   Loney's recent barrage convinced Dodgers manager Grady Little to leave him in the lineup for Thursday's game, where he would be facing Padres right-handed pitcher Greg Maddux for the first time.

   The move paid off as Loney hit an RBI double off Maddux in the first inning and a two-run single in the third.

   Little wouldn't come out and say that he foresees Loney as someone who will eventually hit 25 or 30 home runs per year, but he did say that he expects to see continued improvement from his rookie first baseman.

   "He continues to get stronger," Little said. "He's stronger this year than he was last year, and he'll be stronger next year than he is this year."

DODGERS 6, PADRES 3: James Loney had three hits and drove in four runs as the Dodgers crept within 1 1/2 games of the Padres in the race for the NL wild card. David Wells took care of things on offense and defense. He held the Padres to one run through five innings before giving up sixth-inning home runs to Morgan Ensberg and Mike Cameron. Wells improved to 3-0 since joining the Dodgers. Wells also singled and doubled off of Padres starter Greg Maddux.

Notes & Quotes
   --INF Wilson Valdez, one of the Dodgers' 11 September call-ups, led the Class AAA Las Vegas 51s with a .343 batting average and had a team-high 14 stolen bases this season.

   --RHP Derek Lowe was wearing a red Dodgers shirt on Thursday, which on a football field would be used as a non-contact jersey. The shirt came courtesy of RHP Jonathan Broxton, who injured Lowe's right hand two days earlier when the two were playing catch. The injury forced Lowe to miss Wednesday night's start against the Padres, but he does appear to on track to start Saturday against the Diamondbacks. "He should be fine with that," manager Grady Little said. "He could grip a baseball and throw it (Thursday). He was able to do that."

   --3B Nomar Garciaparra was not in the lineup for the second consecutive game Thursday. He is still recovering from a strained left calf, and manager Grady Little said he would prefer to play it cautious with his veteran infielder. "Nomar is not 100 percent," Little said.

   --OF Juan Pierre stole his 57th base of the season in Thursday night's game, tying Monte Ward for ninth place on the franchise's single-season list. Ward stole 57 bases during the 1891 season.

   --RHP David Wells doubled and singled against Padres' pitcher Greg Maddux on Thursday, notching the first two-hit game of his career.

By the Numb3rs: 2 -- The number of pinch-hit home runs hit by OF Andre Ethier this season, through Sept. 7. Both were hit against the Cubs.

Quote to Note: ""I didn't give up on myself. They gave up on me. Maybe they're having second thoughts on it. I hope so."-- David Wells about the San Diego Padres.

*M*A*S*H* 4077 Report
   RHP Derek Lowe (bruised right hand) missed his Sept. 12 start, but he should pitch Sept. 15.

   3B Andy LaRoche (back pain) hasn't played since Sept. 6. He is day-to-day.    LHP Randy Wolf (tender left shoulder) went on the disabled list July 4. He pitched on a rehab assignment July 25 but emerged with more shoulder irritation. He had season-ending surgery Sept. 5.

   OF Jason Repko (torn left hamstring) opened the season on the disabled list. He had surgery March 28 and is expected to be out for the season. He was moved to the 60-day disabled list Aug. 29.

   LHP Hong-Chih Kuo (sore left elbow) went on the disabled list retroactive to July 1. He had arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone chip from his left elbow July 25. He was transferred to the 60-day DL on Sept. 4, and he is out for the season.

   RHP Chin-hui Tsao (strained right shoulder) went on the disabled list July 15. He was ready to start a throwing program in early August, but renewed pain put those plans on hold.

   RHP Jason Schmidt (sore right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 17. He underwent exploratory surgery on June 20, and a torn labrum was discovered. He was transferred to the 60-day disabled list on Aug. 13 and will miss the rest of the season.

   RHP Yhency Brazoban (strained right shoulder) went on the disabled list June 1. He cut short a throwing session June 15, and he was subsequently diagnosed with a torn labrum. He underwent surgery June 22 and is out for the season.

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