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Saturday, September 8, 2012
Adrian Gonzalez shows a little life

By Mark Saxon

Adrian Gonzalez
Adrian Gonzalez's ninth-inning triple led to him scoring the winning run for the Dodgers on Saturday.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Who knew Adrian Gonzalez was such a closet lunatic?

When he led off the ninth inning with a triple, shortly before scoring the winning run in the Los Angeles Dodgers' crucial 3-2 win over the San Francisco Giants, the quietest star in the game allowed himself to go crazy. He clapped.

"That's as much as you're going to see from me," Gonzalez said. "That's like jumping up and down for 30 seconds for somebody else."

As this high-priced Dodgers machine has repeatedly failed to fire, Gonzalez was one of the guys putting out the sparks. His Dodgers career began with a jolt -- a three-run home run two weeks ago -- but since then, it had simmered and, finally, gone cold. He has had a few meaningful hits, but not enough. When Gonzalez came up in the ninth, he was batting .203 as a Dodger.

You'd never know it was taking a toll, fraying his nerves. He may have kept it buried, but he says it was in there all along.

"You guys don't go down in the tunnel after at-bats. Helmets are being slammed, and chairs are being thrown around," Gonzalez said. "That's actually true. I don't like to show it on the field. I was a guy who feels like you're showing a weakness to the other team when you do that."

When the Dodgers added Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez, they injected some power into their lineup. They may have also extracted its identity. The early results suggested it wasn't working. The Dodgers had a losing record since both trades.

The potential is still there. Gonzalez said his swing hasn't felt right all season, but if it suddenly bounces back -- and Matt Kemp isn't out for too long and Ramirez continues to drive in runs -- there might come a time when the Dodgers don't have to squeak out one-run wins. That might be the day they start their run to the playoffs.

Gonzalez's triple -- his 12th in nine seasons -- felt like a breakthrough moment. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't.

"Adrian's going to hit. It's just a matter of time," manager Don Mattingly said. "Obviously, we don't have time to sit there and say 'Ho-hum' with it, but also trying to force it doesn't do any good either."

Kemp, getting dressed as Gonzalez addressed reporters after Saturday's game, joked that he'll work on getting Gonzalez to show more emotion next season.

"We'll let him do him right now," Kemp said.

Letting Gonzalez be himself seems like a good idea. They would just like him to be the guy they thought he was, the one who hammers balls into gaps and over fences.

He can do it as quietly as he wants to as long as he does it.