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Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Ricky Nolasco joins a festive party

By Mark Saxon


Since being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers three days ago, Ricky Nolasco's Twitter feed -- largely dormant since April -- has exploded with activity.

He changed his avatar to the Dodgers' logo and tweeted, "Thank you all Dodger fans showing me mad love and welcoming me! Feels unreal still." He also answered just about every follower, including those asking about his favorite taco joints.

Granted, Nolasco is from Southern California, but would he have been this excited about being traded to the Dodgers just a few weeks ago? Before his new team got hot, they were 12 games under .500, barely a half-dozen games better than Nolasco's atrocious Miami Marlins.

Now, who wouldn't want to pitch for the Dodgers? A team that used to score about three runs per game is scoring more than six per game. A team that used to have to answer questions about its manager's job status can talk about its talent and cohesiveness.

And, thanks to Nolasco, they can celebrate a pitching staff that could actually be on the upswing.

Nolasco made his first start as a Dodger a good one Tuesday during a 6-1 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks that cut Arizona's lead in the NL West to just 2½ games. The Dodgers have won 17 of their past 20 games, have made baseball's first impact trade (for Nolasco) and probably will get healthier in the second half.

There's a lot to like, and Nolasco looked as if he was all smiles when he came out of the game following seven strong innings, in which he gave up only four hits and a run and struck out five.

No one would have believed it a couple of weeks ago, but the Dodgers stand a decent shot of going into the All-Star break in first place. They get one more crack at Arizona on Wednesday night, then play four straight at home against the Colorado Rockies, who have lost 14 of their past 20 games.

The only downer for the team was that Hanley Ramirez's hitting streak ended at 19 games. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout to drop his season average to .404.