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Dodgers' James Loney remains on hot streak

Club has to wonder if a spectacular month and a half makes up for a yearlong slump.

August 27, 2011|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Dodger first baseman James Loney is congratulated by temmates in the dugout after his home run in the ninth inning tied the score, 6-6, against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.
Dodger first baseman James Loney is congratulated by temmates in the dugout… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)

Does a spectacular month and a half make up for a yearlong slump?

That's the question the Dodgers could be asking themselves when they consider what to do with James Loney this winter.

Loney continued his recent tear on Saturday by hitting a ninth-inning solo home run that pushed the Dodgers into extra innings and set up a 7-6, 11-inning victory over the Colorado Rockies.

Over his last 18 games, Loney is hitting .442 with four home runs, 10 runs batted in and 11 runs scored.

Until recently, Loney appeared to be on his way to being let go by the Dodgers. He is earning $4.875 million this year and could be awarded a 2012 salary of close to $6 million in the arbitration process if the Dodgers tender him a contract. (Major league service time is a key component in determining the salary of an arbitration-eligible player.)

Loney hit .211 after the All-Star break last year and was batting .251 as recently as Aug. 8.

"He knows how to hit," General Manager Ned Colletti said.

"He's been a run producer. He has a track record. It's not like he's in his mid-30s and you're wondering if age is becoming a factor."

Still, Colletti conceded, the Dodgers have a decision to make about Loney this winter.

Loney said his uncertain status hasn't provided him with added motivation — "I think I motivate myself," he said — and that his sudden surge could be explained by improved timing.

Loney said he is optimistic management will see that when deciding his fate with the club.

"How you're feeling and how you're looking at the plate is hopefully something that the people who are making the decisions can see," Loney said.

Billingsley battles

Chad Billingsley was spent.

He threw a season-high 123 pitches, only two fewer than his career high. He faced at least five batters in the first four innings he pitched.

"Every inning was long," Billingsley said.

But Billingsley managed to last six innings. The final inning he pitched was crucial, Manager Don Mattingly said, because the Dodgers were able to stay out of the bullpen for another inning in what turned out to be an extra-inning contest.

"I was grinding my way to the sixth," Billingsley said.

Billingsley, who held the Rockies to four runs, was in line for the victory until Hong-Chih Kuo served up a two-run home run in the seventh inning that put the visitors ahead, 6-5.

Short hops

Second-base umpire Bob Davidson exited the game in the middle of the fourth inning because of dehydration. He received fluids intravenously but didn't return to the game. … Former Last Comic Standing contestant Gabriel Iglesias will perform at the Viva Los Dodgers event before Sunday's game against the Rockies. Iglesias will take the stage in parking Lot 6 at noon.

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