James Loney receives an enthusiastic high five from Matt Kemp after hitting… (Bob Levey / Getty Images )
HOUSTON — It's clear to the Dodgers that despite the team's fast start this year, they need more run production from players not named Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier.
Kemp and Ethier have accounted for 63% of the team's runs this season (43 of 68) but "we can't count on two guys," second baseman Mark Ellis said. "We've all got to do our part."
James Loney took up the challenge Saturday, slugging his first home run, into the upper deck at Minute Maid Park against Houston Astros starter Kyle Weiland.
It was only the second Dodgers home run this seasonn not hit by Kemp or Ethier. A.J. Ellis hit the other one.
Loney is a Houston native and had several friends and family watching in the stands, including his former Little League coach.
Mark Ellis' role mainly is twofold: Help leadoff batter Dee Gordon advance if Gordon gets on base and, if Gordon doesn't get on, reach base ahead of Kemp, Ethier and Juan Rivera.
Ellis had done enough of the latter to be second in the National League with 14 runs through Friday, behind Kemp's 16.
But Ellis, batting .240 with two runs batted in, said there's a third role he must play.
"One thing I can do a better job of is driving guys in when there's that chance," he said. "We've all got to do our part."
Jamey Wright is sharp
Veteran Jamey Wright pitched a scoreless ninth inning to preserve the Dodgers' win Saturday night.
The 37-year-old Wright, who made the club as a non-roster invitee in spring training, has pitched 51/3 innings without giving up a hit.
Marwin Gonzalez came close to breaking the streak Saturday night, hitting a line drive that was snagged by shortstop Gordon.
Finding Scott Elbert's spot
Left-handed reliever Scott Elbert has gone more than a week without pitching in a game, a break Manager Don Mattingly attributed to matchups with the two opposing teams on this trip.
"The lineups dictated that you stay right-handed on them" with relief pitchers, Mattingly said of the Astros and Milwaukee Brewers. "So it's usually just one spot you've got a chance for [using] a lefty.
"I told [Elbert] yesterday, 'I know you're out there.' " I told him just to stay sharp."
Elbert said he has tried to do that by throwing each day in practice since his last appearance, April 13 against the San Diego Padres. He has pitched 21/3 innings in four appearances.
Elbert said he understood Mattingly's strategy.
"You go with your strengths," Elbert said.
And did Elbert think the layoff would affect him?
"We'll find out," he said.