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Loney Continues His Resurgence, Kershaw Wins 17th for Dodgers

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Armed with a two-run homer and a double, James Loney’s resurgence continued as he helped the Dodgers defeat the San Diego Padres 4-1.

“James, love it,” Manager Don Mattingly said. “He’s been swinging the bat good there.”

On July 20 the Dodgers fired hitting coach Jeff Pentland promoting Dave Hansen on an interim basis. At that point Loney was batting .263 with four home runs. Coming into Monday’s game, since Pentland’s dismissal Loney has batted .311 bringing his average up to .273 while belting four more homers.

“As I get ready to hit, my timing has been good,” Loney said. “Just reacting.”

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That isn’t to say his swing wasn’t close before.

“It was definitely close. Then there were times when I thought I was on time, and maybe I wasn’t as perfect as I should have been. But now I just feel a nice smooth transition.”

After Mat Latos (L, 6-13) walked Justin Sellers with one out in the third, Loney - the only Dodger to hit a home run off of Latos - transitioned real nicely belting a 414-foot homer to right-centerfield. Loney has driven in a run in six consecutive games, a season-high streak for the Dodgers. Loney admitted that pitches are slowing down for him in this last month.

“I think that’s what happens. It gives you a better chance to hit the pitches that are left in places that you should hit them.”

With that 3-0 lead everyone in the ballpark was confident with Clayton Kershaw (W, 17-5) on the mound the lead would hold.

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“If you score a few runs for him, you’re pretty confident you’re going to get a win,” Loney added.

On a normal Kershaw outing that would have been the case, but early on it wasn’t pretty.

“He was a little rough early,” Mattingly noted.

“I battled tonight,” Kershaw admitted. “My breaking stuff wasn’t there early.”

Eight of the nine base runners San Diego had were on from the second inning to the fifth inning. With the exception of a Nick Hundley RBI double that scored Orlando Hudson, the Dodgers defense supported Kershaw until he could get his off-speed pitches to work. In the third inning Kershaw started a 1-6-3 double play while in the fifth inning Loney started the typical ho-hum 3-6-4 double play.

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“In the first couple of innings I got a bunch of double plays which were awesome,” Kershaw commented. “The defense really picked me up.”

Once Kershaw got his changeup over for strikes in the sixth inning, it was smooth sailing giving Mattingly no hesitation in putting Kershaw back on the mound for the ninth inning.

“He got cruising and got everything over which made the decision late easy,” Mattingly said. “All of a sudden he settled in and got in a groove.”

Although Kershaw gave up a two-out single to Nick Hundley in the ninth inning that bounced off of third baseman Aaron Miles, he calmly struck out Logan Forsythe on four pitches for his fifth complete game of the season and the second against the Padres.

Kershaw is the first Dodgers’ 17-game winner since Chan Ho Park went 18-10 in 2000. Perhaps the most incredulous thing isn’t the fact he lowered his ERA to 2.45.

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“I don’t have personal goals,” Kershaw said.

Say what?

“I really don’t. I just think it’s limiting - you never know what you can do. Just start to start: I’m just trying to win my next start. So getting ready for Atlanta.”

By the way the player with the bum knee went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored. But, you know, “there’s nothing to talk about.”

Seattle Mariners defeat LA Angels 5-3. Joel Pineiro got the start for the Angels giving up three runs to the Mariners in his six innings of work. However Hisanori Takahashi gave up a two-run homer to Mike Carp in the eighth inning, and Brandon League shut down the Angels in the ninth. The Angels now fall to 3 ½ games behind the idle Texas Rangers in the AL West.

TONIGHT’S ACTION

LA Angels at Seattle Mariners. 7:10 p.m. FSWest, AM 830 KLAA.

San Diego Padres at LA Dodgers. 7:10 p.m. KCAL9, AM 790 KABC.