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Dodgers' James Loney settles his swing and raises his numbers

The first baseman, who has struggled at the plate most of the season, has stopped tinkering with his swing and the result is a bump in his average from .230 to .253.

June 15, 2011|By Jim Peltz

Dodgers first baseman James Loney went hitless in four at-bats Wednesday against Cincinnati, in part because Reds left fielder Jonny Gomes made a diving catch of a Loney line drive that was sure to make the highlight clips.

Perhaps less noticed was that Gomes' catch also helped snap a six-game hitting streak that Loney had pieced together.

That's a modest streak, but it was a place to start for Loney, who has struggled mightily at the plate this season.

"It's going better," said Loney, whose streak included three multiple-hit games and a grand slam on Sunday. His batting average has edged up to .253 from .230 a month ago.

After acknowledging recently that he frequently tinkered with his swing in search of improvement, the left-handed hitter said he was "settling into an approach" at the plate "and just trusting it."

"You're going to make outs here and there but hopefully I'll have some consistent swings," he said.

That was welcome news to Manager Don Mattingly, who said Loney "promised me the other day he was not going to change" his swing again.

"James is a guy that's confident, he's worked hard and he's been frustrated that he hasn't done better and knows that he's capable of doing more," Mattingly said.

Guerra nod

Relief pitcher Javy Guerra had appeared in only 11 big league games before Wednesday, but Mattingly indicated Guerra already was in the Dodgers' "closer by committee" strategy.

With Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo on the disabled list, "for now it's hard to say somebody's going to be that [closer]," Mattingly said. Then he volunteered Guerra's name.

"As much as anything, Javy's done a great job," Mattingly said of the 25-year-old right-hander. "Javy's thrown the ball good … he doesn't seem to be afraid to throw strikes."

Guerra made his major league debut May 15 after being called up from double-A Chattanooga (Tenn.) and earned his first save May 24.

He pitched a scoreless eighth inning Wednesday in the Dodgers' 7-2 loss to the Reds.

Short hops

Rookie shortstop Dee Gordon is known more for his glove and speed than his bat, yet the 23-year-old has five multiple-hit games in his first nine major league appearances. Only Gordon and Matt Kemp had more than one hit Wednesday (each had two) . . . Rookie reliever Josh Lindblom threw two shutout innings on his 24th birthday . . . The last time the Dodgers were swept in a three-game series was last Sept. 6-8, against the Padres in San Diego. The last time the Reds swept a series from the Dodgers was May 14-16, 2006.

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