The Dodgers had a lot to be thankful for Sunday.
They were thankful for the Miami Marlins, one of only two National League teams to begin play Sunday with a worse record. And they were thankful for the schedule makers, who brought the Marlins to town in time to help the Dodgers end their longest losing streak in nearly five seasons.
But perhaps most of all they were thankful for Scott Van Slyke, who was in the minor leagues three days ago. Sunday he was at first base at Dodger Stadium, spelling the aching Adrian Gonzalez, and he made the most of the opportunity, contributing a home run, a run-scoring single and two sterling defensive plays in the Dodgers' 5-3 victory.
BOX SCORE: Dodgers 5, Miami 3
The victory was the second in less than 24 hours for the Dodgers, or two more than they'd won this month before the Marlins' visit.
"If we win one more, it's a winning streak," Manager Don Mattingly, who hasn't had much to joke about lately, said. "It gives us a chance to get a little bit of momentum going. It doesn't sound like much once you've lost eight in a row. But it's something. It's some movement in the right direction."
Added Chris Capuano, who won for the first time in three decisions: "It was just a good series. It's been a little bit of a nightmare the past week. So it's just kind of nice to kind of wake up from that a little bit."
The left-handed Capuano struck out a season-high seven batters in 61/3 innings.
It fell to Van Slyke to shake the Dodgers from their slumber, driving in their first run with a home run leading off the second inning and their last with a two-out single in the seventh. In between he saved a run by backhanding Derek Dietrich's hot smash to first base with two on and two out in the fourth, then reached into the first row of the box seats to snare Marcell Ozuna's foul pop two innings later.
It was quite a Mother's Day performance, and one he got to share with his mother Lauri, who flew in from St. Louis for the series.
"When I hit the home run, I was just smiling around the bases," Van Slyke said. "The first thing that came to my mind was Mother's Day and she got to see the home run."
Van Slyke was one of three players in the Dodgers lineup who was at triple-A Albuquerque nine days ago. And all three contributed, with shortstop Dee Gordon getting a single, stealing a base and bunting two runners into scoring position in the seventh, and catcher Tim Federowicz called a sharp game and set up the team's second run with a single.
Whether that means the Dodgers have turned a corner or whether it means they simply are better than the Marlins remains to be seen. But a hint could come Monday, when they put their modest two-game winning streak on the line against the Washington Nationals.
"We haven't played great baseball. And we knew that no matter who came into town, we had to start doing the little things right," Nick Punto, who had a hit, a run and a run batted in, said over the celebratory soundtrack in the Dodgers clubhouse. "It's pretty simple: winning is fun, losing is not."