Dodgers reliever Scott Elbert is congratulated by catcher Rod Barajas… (Jayne Kamin-Oncea / U.S.…)
Now that Scott Elbert has stayed with the Dodgers for a while, the relief pitcher appears to have found his stride.
Entering Tuesday's game, the left-hander had pitched scoreless relief in 16 of his previous 17 appearances dating to July 6, during which he posted an 0.56 earned-run average and held opposing hitters to a .193 batting average.
Overall, Elbert is 0-1 with two saves and a 2.67 ERA this season.
"It's been a breakthrough," Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said.
"In the past it's always been short stints, the guy on the yo-yo, back and forth," Mattingly said, describing Elbert's shuttling between the Dodgers and the minor leagues.
This season, however, Elbert has stayed since being called up in early May. "Now he's settled in, trusting his stuff, knowing his stuff is good enough to play here," Mattingly said. And that, he added, has boosted Elbert's confidence, and the manager's confidence in handing him the ball.
Elbert, 26, acknowledged that in the past he pitched too carefully for fear that any mistake could mean a demotion to the minors. Now, he said, "I'm not trying to get a strikeout from the first pitch on." His approach instead? "Making the hitters get themselves out. I know what to do every day at the park, I know how to prepare."
Speaking of relievers, the Dodgers pitcher with the lowest ERA on the staff, 2.05, entering Tuesday's play was right-hander Mike MacDougal. He had allowed 11 earned runs in 481/3 innings.
"It's been going pretty good," he said. And as for his impressive numbers? "I don't want to know."
Dodgers likely to face Strasburg
Stephen Strasburg, the highly touted pitcher for the Washington Nationals, is expected to make his return to the major leagues Sept. 6 against the Dodgers at Nationals Park, Washington Manager Davey Johnson said.
The right-hander, recovering from Tommy John surgery a year ago to repair a torn ligament in his elbow, is expected to make one more minor league start as part of a rehabilitation assignment.
In his rookie season last year, the former San Diego State star went 5-3 with a 2.91 earned-run average in 12 starts before hurting his arm.
Billionaire Mark Cuban said it was "a longshot, it's a real longshot" that he would buy the Dodgers. Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks, made the comments on CBSNews.com's "What's Trending" program, adding that he's asked about the possibility of buying the club "every time I come to L.A." . . . . Dodgers prospects named to the Arizona Fall League included pitchers Steve Ames, Stephen Fife, Cole St. Clair and Josh Wall; infielder Jake Lemmerman; catcher Gorman Erickson and outfielders Alex Castellanos and Kyle Russell. They'll play for the Salt River Rafters.