First baseman James Loney scored the winning run on Tuesday night, scoring from first base on a double by Luis Cruz in the seventh inning of the Dodgers' 3-1 win over the Reds. Loney was nearly thrown out at home plate, an was tripped by Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan, but managed to slip his left foot onto the plate.
"When he came around third I thought he had it easy, then the parachute came out," manager Don Mattingly joked after the game. "It seemed from that point forward everything seemed to slow down."
But Loney's production has been no laughing matter this season, except maybe for fans of other teams in the National League. Loney is hitting .243/.307/.330 with two home runs and 23 RBI this season. Loney, Juan Uribe, and Juan Rivera have provided little production from the infield corners this season for the Dodgers.
"If you're going to look at negatives, our corners' production has been a disappointment," Mattingly said on Tuesday. "We went into the season counting on Matt (Kemp) and Andre (Ethier) to be a one-two punch, and knew I needed some wing guys for them. The guys that we were thinking could be those guys to this point have not been those guys."
Loney was relegated to part-time duty, starting just eight of the final 17 games of June, with four of those starts coming in American League parks when the designated hitter gave the Dodgers an extra lineup spot. Before Sunday's game with the Mets and mired in an 0-for-25 slump, Loney met with Mattingly in his office and told the manager that he figured something out in his swing.
"I felt pretty good. Not necessarily getting hits, but my approach," Loney said. "I felt in control, reading balls a lot better."
But this isn't anything new for Loney, who has constantly tinkered with his swing throughout his career, often to the frustration of Mattingly, his former hitting coach.
"I've been through this for three or four years with James," Mattingly said Monday.
Loney was 1-for-3 on Tuesday and is 4-for-10 with a double in the last three games. This doesn't mean the Dodgers aren't still looking to upgrade at first base, perhaps acquiring someone who doesn't mind paying California state income tax. But between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, it would be nice to get at least some semblance of production from first base from Loney, who has started the last three games.
"He's been pretty good, his word's been good," Mattingly said. "I told him I'd give him two games, and he's past that."
Tonight's Pitching Matchup
The Dodgers look for their first consecutive wins since June 9 in Wednesday's series finale against the Reds. Aaron Harang makes his first start against his former team since leaving Cincinnati after 2010. Harang won 75 games in eight years with the Reds from 2003-2010. Mike Leake hasn't faced the Dodgers since 2010, but allowed 12 runs in 15 1/3 innings to the Dodgers. He allowed five runs in each of his two starts, and two runs in 2 1/3 innings in a relief appearance.
Game Time: 6:10 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket, MLB Network