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DODGERS FYI

It's thought that counts? Not for James Loney

Dodgers first baseman says he'd been thinking too much at the plate. Since he stopped doing that, he's homered in two of his last three games.

August 29, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

CINCINNATI — James Loney thinks he might be on to something.

The formula is simple: Think less.

"I just react," he said.

Doing that, Loney has hit home runs in two of his last three games, including one Friday, when he took Nate Masset deep to start a two-run ninth-inning rally in the Dodgers' 4-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.

The homer was only the ninth for Loney, who went 37 games without a home run from July 11 to Aug. 25.

Loney has been working with hitting coach Don Mattingly on mechanical adjustments, but said he leaves the thinking in the batting cages and tries to rely on muscle memory once the game starts.

"There were some times I really wasn't being myself," he said. "I was doing the wrong stuff trying to make it perfect. Now, I'm just going out there instead of trying to make it look right."

Loney, who was one for four Friday, is four for 11 in his last three games.

Dream a little dream

Manny Ramirez will earn more than $17 million this season -- his $25-million salary minus the $7.7 million he lost during his suspension -- but he paid for $30 worth of lottery tickets on Friday.

He wasn't alone.

About 10 players in a clubhouse full of millionaires pulled together a couple of hundred dollars for a chance to win a Mega Millions jackpot that was worth more than Alex Rodriguez's contract with the New York Yankees.

Such are the methods used by players to break up the tedium of a long season.

The idea to play was that of utilityman Juan Castro, who said he and his teammates often bought lottery tickets when he played for the Cincinnati Reds.

"One time we won more tickets," he said.

Told that they already had a lot of money, Castro smiled and said, "I don't. Some other guys, they do."

Manager Joe Torre said that if someone other than him emerged from the Dodgers' dugout at Great American Ball Park to make a late-inning pitching change, that would be a sign of something.

"You'll know I won," Torre said.

For the record, Torre said he would return next season even if he won the $330-million jackpot. Ramirez, Castro and closer Jonathan Broxton said the same.

"I'll probably have somebody that will talk to you guys, though," Torre told a group of reporters.

Hiroki Kuroda didn't want to play, noting that something almost mathematically impossible happened to him when he was struck on the head by a line drive two weeks ago.

"I should stay away," he said. "If I play, I'll probably win. Then something else will happen the next day that would kill me."

Short hops

Matt Kemp, who stole 35 bases last season, stole his 28th this season in the first inning. . . . Ronald Belisario, who pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor DUI on Thursday, tossed a scoreless inning. Belisario has allowed only one run in nine appearances since returning from an elbow injury on Aug. 8. . . . Jonady Nunez, who pitched for the Dodgers' Dominican summer league team, received a 50-game suspension for testing positive for Stanozolol, a synthetic anabolic steroid. Now a minor league free agent, Nunez will start serving his suspension upon signing with a new organization.

--

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

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