There are plenty of reasons to remain skeptical about the Dodgers.
They are still 10 games under .500.
They still haven't demonstrated an ability to score with any kind of consistency.
And the three-game sweep they completed Sunday was over the San Diego Padres, who replaced them as the last-place team in the National League West.
But after extended their winning streak to a season-long four games with a 4-1 victory over the Padres at Dodger Stadium, Manager Don Mattingly said he wished his team could continue playing rather than head into the All-Star break.
"It seemed like a good thing about four days ago," Mattingly said of the midseason intermission.
The Dodgers are in fourth place with a 41-51 record.
"We still know the position we're in and the position we're trying to get back to," Andre Ethier said. "That being said, it's great. We feel good about bouncing back."
The Dodgers are unbeaten since veteran infielder Jamey Carroll called a pregame, players-only meeting Friday. Tony Gwynn Jr. said the players set a goal of climbing out of last place before starting their four-day vacations.
Their latest victory came as a result of two home runs by Ethier and another fine performance by the pitching staff.
Ted Lilly (6-9) held the Padres to a run over five innings to earn his first win in five starts. Kenley Jansen, Hong-Chih Kuo, Matt Guerrier, Mike MacDougal and Javy Guerra combined for four shutout innings.
"Pitching is going to be our bread and butter," Mattingly said.
The Dodgers, who have a team earned-run average of 3.89, held the Padres to one run over the last three days. The Padres were 0 for 25 with runners in scoring position in the series.
Mattingly said that was a credit to the Dodgers' pitching, even though the Padres rank last in the NL in batting average and runs scored.
"The pitching staff has done a really good job all season," Gwynn said. "As an offense, we're finding ways to scrape enough runs to win games."
The Dodgers received help from Gwynn's former teammates Sunday.
With no outs and the bases loaded in the third inning, Matt Kemp hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Chase Headley, who backhanded the ball. Instead of touching third or throwing to first, Headley went home, only to send the ball to the right of catcher Rob Johnson.
Gwynn and Rafael Furcal scored to put the Dodgers ahead, 2-1.
"No matter how ugly it was at times, we found ways to win ballgames," Gwynn said. "You look at the Padres over there, they probably have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball."
The Padres have a team ERA of 3.23.
Mattingly said he was proud of his team for continuing to fight, pointing out that the Dodgers went into Thursday on a five-game losing streak.
Gwynn said the Dodgers have the character necessary to deal with failure.
"We have a right bunch of guys in the clubhouse," Gwynn said. "We have veterans, a bunch of young guys who want to learn and ask questions. Everybody gets along well in this clubhouse. If you have that kind of combination, it's a lot easier to be resilient."