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Strange Days Are Here Again for the Dodgers

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Strange days are here again. After one of the worst two weeks any Dodger team had experienced offensively, their 4-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds once again vaulted them in sole possession of first place.

It's not like the Dodgers went on any kind of run — they lost four of the seven games following the sweep by the San Francisco Giants that resulted in the Dodgers being tied with the Giants for the division lead. Before the game Dodgers manager Don Mattingly admitted there was a sense of relief of not having the wheels completely fallen off in the division race.

"What we've been able to do through the course of the first half to get us in position. When we were going really well that rainy-day fund — you play well early you buy yourself a bad week — that's really what's happened. It really happens to everybody.

"If that bad week would have happened when we were six back or five back to start and you have one of those stretches, then you put yourself in a bad spot."

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Leake-y First. Reds starter Mike Leake has never had a good time with the Dodgers. Of his three prior meetings against the Dodgers, he gave up five runs each in two starts and two runs in 2 1/3 innings of relief. So it came as no surprise when the Dodgers turned into the Big Blue Machine in the first inning.

What did come as a surprise was Dee Gordon's long fly double to right field that was inches away from being a home run. Gordon lost the ball in the sun as he ran out of the box, but when he got to second base he did have one regret.

"I was really wishing that it was triple more than anything," Gordon said.

Thinking Luis Cruz was a bunting threat, Reds first baseman Joey Votto was playing very shallow in the infield grass. Cruz made Votto pay hitting a bloop single to the space where Votto vacated allowing Gordon to easily score from second.

But the hits weren't done.

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Bobby Abreu hit a single up the middle, and James Loney singled to right field scoring Cruz for the 3-0 lead. All of that before even recording an out.

Even when Adam Kennedy hit into what was surely a double play, shortstop Zack Cozart's errant throw allowed Abreu to score and Kennedy to take second base. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, that was the end of the threat: Scott Van Slyke struck out and Matt Treanor grounded to shortstop after Elian Herrera was hit by a pitch.

With only two runs being earned, the good news for Leake was that his seven innings of work was his career best against the Dodgers. The bad news was that he earned the loss.

Mark Ellis Up, Andre Ethier DL-ed. In an anticipated move, second baseman Mark Ellis was recalled from the disabled list while Andre Ethier was placed on the DL retroactive to June 28 with a strained left oblique.

This move was merely an administrative one and not indicative of Ethier's progress. After hitting in the cages in lieu of taking batting practice on the field the past couple of days, Ethier took batting practice on the field.

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"It feels better than yesterday," Ethier said while coming off the field after taking batting practice.

Ellis didn't start the game and didn't anticipate starting.

Until the eighth inning when Dee Gordon stole third base on ball four to Cruz. Replays showed the Reds third baseman Todd Frazier's glove clearly was between the bag and Gordon's hand. So while the umpires didn't change the call, Gordon did look to jam his thumb underneath the base.

"It felt like I hit something real hard," Gordon said. "As soon as I got up, I knew I jammed it. When I looked at my batting glove, it looked disfigured."

Mattingly told reporters that x-rays were negative and Gordon will have an MRI done on Thursday.

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Ellis came into the game as a pinch runner and got into a rundown on Juan Rivera's pinch-hit grounder.

Fortunately that allowed the runners to move to second and third. James Loney was intentionally walked, and Adam Kennedy hit a sacrifice fly to score Cruz for the 4-1 lead.

Reds Haranged. Harang made his first start against the Reds with whom he played for from 2003 to 2010 since leaving as a free agent. He got the win for his six innings of work giving up a lone run on Devin Mesoaco's homer in the fifth inning.

"I faced them last spring, and it didn't go so hot," Harang admitted. "I got that out of the way. Kind of like that first game against the Padres. Get the nerves out of the way."

Harang did campaign to stay on longer since he only made 84 pitches through six inning, but he knew a losing cause when he saw it.

"He had his mind made up," Harang said. "I was trying everything to get to stay out there. When ther manager gets a feeling, there's not a lot of times you can talk him out of it."

Standing. Going 3-4 in this homestand, the Dodgers gained a 1/2 game on the San Francisco Giants to take the sole lead in the division by that margin. The Dodgers have also won back-to-back games for the first time since June 9-10. The Dodgers head to Arizona to play four games against the Diamondbacks before heading into the All Star Break.

I guess it could have been worse.