Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire
LOS ANGELES -- Bring on the next test.
First, the Dodgers were stockpiling early season wins with the help of a sympathetic schedule that had them playing only the likes of the San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates. Now, having completed a three-game sweep of the impressive Washington Nationals over the weekend, culminating in Sunday's 2-0 victory before 48,753 at Dodger Stadium, and a 4-2 homestand that began with them losing two of three to the also-impressive Atlanta Braves, the Dodgers at least have proven they can hang with the big boys.
Now, it's going to be, 'Yeah, but you did it at home,' so we have to go do it on the road,'' Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "That's why for me, we just go game to game and try to find a way to win today. We'll move on to Colorado, go over the reports and start the process all over again.''
The Dodgers will play three against the Rockies at Coors Field beginning on Monday night, take Thursday off in the very off-day friendly city of Chicago, then play three more with the Cubs starting Friday. Two more sub-.500 teams for the Dodgers, theoretically, to beat up on and potentially pad their already-solid record (16-6) against. And if they somehow manage to fall flat, not beat up on those teams and not pad their record, the questions will begin anew.
The Dodgers just wiped out a pretty good team despite scoring a total of nine runs in the series, which shows they have outstanding pitching. They haven't lost more than two games in a row at any point this season, no matter who they were playing. And they have accomplished all that by taking the schedule as it comes and playing each game on its own merits.
"We have a great mix of guys,'' Dodgers first baseman James Loney said. "You're going to need that to win games over a long season. Big baserunning plays, big hit, all of those little things, those are what win games.''
Loney followed his own advice Sunday; he hit a game-winning, two-run single in the bottom of the seventh inning off Washington's Gio Gonzalez.
The hit was significant because it snapped 25-inning scoreless streak, the longest by a Nationals pitcher since the team moved from Montreal in 2005, but it also was significant because Gonzalez is left-handed.
It was just the third hit this season, in 19 at-bats, by the lefty-hitting Loney against a left-handed pitcher. Loney didn't exactly hit it with authority -- it was a looping liner that he managed to poke over the shortstop's head into shallow center -- but it was something, and it could be a sign the much-maligned Dodgers first baseman is getting more comfortable hitting against opposing lefties.
"I have always been comfortable against them,'' said Loney, who is hitting .227 overall. "Anytime I am struggling with lefties, I'm usually struggling with righties too. I was just trying to get a ball to drive and trying to hit it solid.''