Dodgers first baseman James Loney says of breaking a slump: "Thoughts… (Chris Morrison / US Presswire )
Reporting from New York
James Loney said he is starting to feel like himself again.
"Hitting line drives," he said.
Loney is batting .382 (13 for 34) over his last 11 games. His average has climbed from .170 to .226 over that span.
"Just getting the muscle memory back from when I first came up," he said.
Loney's slump dated back to the midpoint of last season. He hit .211 after the All-Star break.
He blamed his loss in form on thinking too much.
He said he's still prone to doing that, only now he knows how to better deal with it.
"Thoughts will creep in your mind," he said. "If that happens, all I do is step out of the box and gather myself."
Loney said something positive has come out of his struggles. He said that if he can hit his way out of this slump, he can hit his way out of any other one.
"I think that's the main thing, knowing what you can always go back to if it ever gets away," he said. "But I don't see it getting away."
Closer controversy on horizon?
When Jonathan Broxton returns from the disabled list in a month or so, he could do so in a new role.
Vicente Padilla gave up a run on Sunday but earned his second save in the Dodgers' 4-2 victory over the New York Mets at Citi Field. Manager Don Mattingly said that if Padilla pitches well, he could remain the closer even after Broxton is activated.
"We'll see how it goes," Mattingly said. "Obviously, if Vicente comes in and is pitching well out of there, it's hard to just hand something over to somebody else. We'll cross that bridge when we get there."
Mattingly said Broxton could be out for another six weeks.
"Like everybody else, we try to get guys back in the mix [in nonpressure situations] before we start throwing them in tight situations," Mattingly said.
Bullpen bounces back
The cause of several recent late-game collapses, the Dodgers' bullpen responded Sunday by protecting a 4-1 lead it inherited from Clayton Kershaw.
Kenley Jansen took over for Kershaw with two on and two outs in the seventh inning. With first base open, Jansen walked David Wright and forced Jason Bay to fly out to Jerry Sands in left field.
Matt Guerrier pitched a perfect eighth inning.
The previous night, Guerrier gave up a game-deciding two-run single to Justin Turner.
"We've had a bad run of inherited runners the past week or so," Guerrier said. "It was definitely nice."
Kuo: No restrictions
Because of Hong-Chih Kuo's medical history, the Dodgers have been cautious in how they have used him.
Kuo, who pitched in back-to-back games for the first time this season on Friday and Saturday, will be treated like any other reliever from now on.
"He felt he could go back-to-back days," trainer Stan Conte said. "As a group, we decided to take those handcuffs off."
Juan Uribe had a brutal series at Citi Field, as he was 0 for 14 with seven strikeouts. His season average dipped to .213.
Uribe was hit in the hand Wednesday by a 91 mph fastball from Carlos Zambrano of the Chicago Cubs.