LOS ANGELES--Prior to the Dodgers' run-scoring explosion that broke a seven game losing streak and gave them an 8-3 win over the New York Mets Sunday night, manager Don Mattingly wasn't sure what else he could do to get his team a run--let alone a win.
"You're almost at the point where all you can do is laugh and just crank it up again and get ready for the next game," he said. "We fought off (the injuries) and we fought them off some more and we continued to fight them off, until they finally got them all at once.
"It's been a tough thing to go through."
Mattingly has been without Matt Kemp, Mark Ellis and Javy Guerra for long stretches of time due to injuries, and with Andre Ethier being listed as day-to-day nursing a strained oblique muscle, it didn't look like things would get better Sunday as the Mets were trying for a four-game sweep.
But a desperate offense that had been shut out five times this week capitalized on a poor showing by the Mets' defense. The Dodgerswho hadn't led in eight games and 66 innings--turned three New York errors into six unearned runs to give All-Star Clayton Kershaw his sixth win in ten decisions. Ironically, last season's NL CY Young Award winner was also victimized by a shoddy defense when shortstop Dee Gordon's bad throws in the third led to a pair of unearned runs, giving the Mets a 3-1 lead. Dillon Gee (5-7) took the loss.
Afterwards, Kershaw said that he wasn't worried about his team's recent scoring drought or rattled by Gordon's errors.
"You can't think about those things," said the lefthander, who saw his ERA drop to 2.65. "You just have to go out there and do your job and not let (anything) bother you. Sooner or later, things were going to go the right way, and tonight they did."
Dodger first baseman James Loney, who was on the verge of losing his starting job had Carlos Lee approved the deal the Astros agreed to with L.A., ended his personal 0-28 skid with a run scoring double in the seventh. He also drove in a run with a sixth inning ground out.
Dodger centerfielder Kemp, who may start a rehab assignment as a DH this week at Single A Rancho Cucamonga, said getting Lee would have been nice, but it wasn't a necessity.
"We'd like to have anybody who can help us," said Kemp, who reports that his hamstring is no longer causing him any problems while hitting. "But I don't see any reason to panic. We've had guys get hurt, but once we're all healthy, there's no reason we won't be the same team we were before. This is a good team. We're just struggling."
Mattingly echoed Kemp's evaluation.
"We were able to get through (the injuries) at first because every guy who stepped in did well. And they'll have to continue to do so once Kemp, Ellis and Dre get back" Mattingly said. "But they'll be able to do it in the roles they're supposed to play.
"We've just had too many games where our reserves have had to play starter's roles. That's not to be demeaning to them, it's just a fact. Jerry (Hairston Jr.) has done a great job for us, but we're wearing him out by asking him to play so much. When Ellis gets back, Jerry will get back to playing four times a week, which is what we had in mind when we put this club together.
"Ned put the roster together with a plan in mind, and because so many of our guys are hurt, the reserves have had to do more than what we brought them here to do. Once we're healthy, it will go back to being the way it should.
"And if you look at this whole stretch objectively, we're just a game behind (the Giants) with a week to go before the (All Star) break. It doesn't make it any less disappointing to have gone through the last week, but we know that when we come back against (San Diego after the break), we're going to have our full group, healthy and ready to do what we had been doing.
"Looking at it from that perspective, it's not as bad as it could have been."
NOTES: The Dodgers open a three-games series against Cincinnati Monday night at Dodger Stadium. Chad Billingsley (4-7, 4.18) faces the Reds' Homer Baliey (5-6, 4.45)....Kemp said he will compete in the Home Run Derby--"I'm going to have fun with it. It's just like batting practice, which I've been taking for the last three weeksbut won't play in the All Star Game.
"I just want to get healthy and get ready for the second half," Kemp said....Ethierwho led the N.L. In RBI for most of the season before his injury--wasn't picked for the team, and won't participate in the Derby. He said he wants to concentrate on just getting ready to join Kemp back in the lineup right after the break.....Ellis is on a rehab assignment and expect to be ready to play Thursday when the Dodgers travel to Arizona for a series with the Diamondbacks.