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DODGERS FYI

Home runs are back on the menu

August 18, 2008|Ben Bolch | Times Staff Writer

The list of specialties at Soup's Grill, the sports-themed eatery in Woodland Hills run by Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Jeff Suppan, includes "home run hoagies" that offer diners a choice of turkey, ham and cheese or tuna on a homemade roll.

The Dodgers probably wouldn't have found any of those offerings as delectable as what Suppan and reliever Carlos Villanueva served up Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium during a 7-5 victory over the Brewers.

The Dodgers hit four homers off the Milwaukee pitchers, giving them 22 in the 16 games since Manny Ramirez joined the team. That's 1.37 homers per game, more than twice the 0.68 homers per game the team averaged before Ramirez's arrival.

"Knowing that Manny is in the middle of our lineup certainly makes it a little tougher for the other team to take liberties with us," Manager Joe Torre said. "Manny is basically here to make it tougher to get through the middle of the lineup."

Ramirez has hit six homers with his new team, but he's hardly the only Dodger making a power play. Andre Ethier's two homers Sunday, one of which was a two-run, walk-off homer in the ninth inning, gave him four in his last eight games. Matt Kemp has two homers in his last four games and Casey Blake has four homers in his last 15 games.

"It's nice having Kemp ahead of you and Jeff [Kent] and Manny behind you," said Ethier, who has batted second in five of the seven games on the current homestand. "When you get Kemp on base and Manny and Jeff are coming up behind you, it adds a little more pressure to the pitcher to throw quality pitches to you. You don't want to get two guys on and have those two big guys come up and have them come up in RBI situations."

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Waiver waiting game

Torre said General Manager Ned Colletti had engaged in "more than one or two conversations with different teams" regarding possible trades for players who must first clear waivers.

"I don't think there is anything that is imminent at this juncture," Torre said, "and yet that can change since there is conversation going on."

Earlier this week, Arizona acquired outfielder Adam Dunn, who at the time was tied for the major league lead with 32 homers. The Dodgers could have blocked the move by claiming Dunn but did not, presumably because they did not like the possibility of being stuck with a sixth outfielder and the remainder of his $13-million salary for this season.

Torre said playing the waiver game was "like playing chicken" and noted that teams often put claims on players for "self-preservation."

"You've got to answer to somebody if there's a player that can help a team that you're contending against and you have a chance to keep that from happening," Torre said.

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Short hops

Angel Berroa went two for four with a double in place of shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, who was given the day off. . . . Andruw Jones, recovering from a sore left knee, went 0 for 3 with a strikeout Saturday in the first game of a minor league rehabilitation assignment with triple-A Las Vegas. Delwyn Young, recovering from a strained right oblique muscle, went 0 for 2 with a walk in the same game. . . . Torre said reliever Cory Wade, on the disabled list because of stiffness in his shoulder, would probably pitch an inning or two in a minor league game this week before rejoining the team. . . . Linda McCoy-Murray, wife of the late Times sports columnist Jim Murray, threw out the ceremonial first pitch on the 10th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize winner's passing.

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ben.bolch@latimes.com

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