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Thursday, September 13, 2012
Faking it until they make it

By Mark Saxon

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