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Faking it until they make it

LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp was practically bouncing off the walls of the Los Angeles Dodgers' clubhouse Thursday afternoon.

He walked into the room smiling, slammed something hard down on a metal table, turned to a couple of reporters who had been chatting nearby, and said, "I scared you, didn't I?" He walked over to his corner of the clubhouse whooping loudly. A couple of minutes later, he playfully tugged at veteran Bobby Abreu's warmup jacket and said, "Let's go. We've got to stretch in two minutes."

Abreu, dressed in his batting-practice uniform gestured at Kemp, wearing basketball shorts and a T-shirt and said. "I'm ready. What are you talking about?"

How do you lighten the mood when a team is in this deep a slump at this important a time of the season? The coaches did their best before Wednesday's game in Arizona, putting together a game without a ball so the players could clown around on the field. That didn't work, at least not immediately. The Dodgers didn't have a hit after the fourth inning and lost 2-1.

For now, it might be about faking a good time until good times are really here.

"If I'm up there and I'm going 0-for-4, it's hard for me to jump around and feel great," manager Don Mattingly said. "That kind of comes with swinging the bats better, winning some games. Our energy comes from that. You can fake it and talk about it all you want, but until you go out and do something, it's hard to jump around and feel good."

Here are lineups for Thursday's series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals, who hold a one-game lead over the Dodgers for a wild-card spot:

St. Louis

Jon Jay CF

Matt Carpenter 3B

Matt Holliday LF

Allen Craig 1B

Yadier Molina C

Carlos Beltran RF

Skip Schumaker 2B

Daniel Descalso SS

Lance Lyn P

Dodgers

Mark Ellis 2B

Andre Ethier RF

Matt Kemp CF

Adrian Gonzalez 1B

Hanley Ramirez SS

Shane Victorino LF

Luis Cruz 3B

A.J. Ellis C

Josh Beckett P