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Dodgers show confidence in Joc Pederson

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES -- Joc Pederson had two terrible at-bats to end his game on Saturday, but the Dodgers are sticking with him, showing confidence in their center fielder heading into Sunday night's series finale against the Giants on ESPN.

Pederson is in center field and batting eighth on Sunday. On Saturday, he struck out against Johnny Cueto in the seventh and was completely overmatched on strike three, then with the tying run 90 feet away with one out in the ninth inning, Pederson popped out in foul territory in a game the Dodgers lost by a run.

"I really didn't think about not having him in there, whether he didn't get any hits yesterday or got four hits. It's a long season, and he's working hard," manager Dave Roberts said Sunday. "He popped a ball up in an RBI situation and he feels terrible, but today I think he's ready to go."

Pederson is hitting .242/.306/.424 on the season, though we are still in the early going where one game good or bad can sway the numbers quite a bit. For instance, before his 0-for-4 on Saturday Pederson was hitting .276/.344/.483.

"As far as the process goes, the way he's going to the cage, where he's at with the hitting coaches, he's in a good place," Roberts said. "As long as he continues to stay consistent with that, the results will come."

The Dodgers are trying to coax more of the Pederson of the first two months of 2015, the one who hit .267/.393/.606 with 17 home runs in 53 games through June 3, and avoid the one who hit .177/.319/.303 with nine home runs in 98 games after that point.

Roberts loves Pederson's defense in center field so he'd have to continue to slump for some time before getting completely removed from the lineup. Sunday is Pederson's eighth start against eight right-handed pitchers this season, with Jeff Samardzija going for the Giants on Sunday. Pederson is hitting .267/.333/.467 against right-handed pitchers in 2016.

Pederson will continue to get opportunities, especially since the road trip to Atlanta and Colorado will probably see the Dodgers face six right-handed starters.

"There is a little bit of mechanics, and a little bit too much want. He wants it so bad, but when he gets into those spots sometimes less is more," Roberts explained." As a young player, you have to continue to put guys in those positions to temper those emotions. The only way you get better is to be in those spots."

Game info

Time: 5:08 p.m. PT