Power switch turns on for Dodgers' Loney

Power switch turns on for LA's Loney

CHICAGO -- The Dodgers' James Loney, who hit two home runs in his first 67 games, has three in his past four, which is no surprise to his manager.

"He's about the most unpredictable guy I've ever been with," Joe Torre said about his first baseman, who hasn't missed a game this season. "He can take an ugly swing and on the next pitch, line a single to left or a home run to right. He's consistent and he doesn't get rattled."

Loney took the home run-to-right option in the second inning Tuesday night, the key blow in support of Hiroki Kuroda as the Dodgers beat the White Sox, 5-2.

Loney will be facing Chicago right-hander Gavin Floyd Wednesday night, but his homer Tuesday night came off left-handed starter John Danks. To Loney, none of that matters.

He's hitting almost identical against opposing pitchers from either side, although four of his home runs have come off lefties. All five have come on the road.

While the power is a sudden surge, Loney has been driving in runs all year. He has a team-high 49, seven in the past eight games, and is on pace for 111 on the season after driving in 90 last year.

He said he's been working lately in the cage with hitting coach Don Mattingly.

"I'm not trying to hit balls out," Loney said. "I'm just trying to hit the ball with the sweet spot of the bat."

He said even while he's been driving in runs this year, "maybe a lot of them are with flare balls. I haven't been using everything I've got with my swing. Now I feel quick to the ball. I just want to be a line-drive hitter and see where it goes."

Loney batted eighth in the lineup Tuesday night, followed by rookie Mitch Jones, who had a double and single as the designated hitter. The DH on Wednesday night might be Mark Loretta, and Torre said Jones might get another start Thursday against the left-handed Clayton Richard, but added that it might also be an opportunity to DH catcher Russell Martin or third baseman Casey Blake.

Pitching matchup
LAD: LHP Randy Wolf (3-2, 3.29 ERA)
Wolf came away from his most recent start against the A's with one of his specialties, a no-decision. He has 10 of them, only eight shy of the Los Angeles Dodgers record set by Odalis Perez in 2004. Wolf checked in with another quality start, allowing one run in six innings, while stranding five runners in scoring position. The Dodgers have won seven of his past eight starts.

CWS: RHP Gavin Floyd (4-5, 4.65 ERA)
Floyd has really come on strong of late, producing his sixth consecutive quality start on Thursday against the Cubs. He has allowed one earned run in each of his past three starts and carries a 1.58 ERA in his past six. During that span, Floyd has lowered his ERA from 7.71 to 4.65. In his career against the Dodgers, Floyd has struggled. In three starts, he carries a 10.50 ERA. He has thrown 12 innings, allowing 19 hits, 17 runs -- 14 earned -- with seven strikeouts and 10 walks.

The Dodgers are 7-2 in their past nine games. ... Center fielder Matt Kemp, after a long run, made a juggling catch on the warning track of Chris Getz's drive in the fifth inning on Tuesday night. ... Orlando Hudson added to his team-high run total with No. 47 after walking and stealing second base in the eighth inning on Tuesday, scoring on Blake's two-run single. Blake is second on the club with 46 RBIs. ... Charley Blaney, the Dodgers' former vice president of Minor League operations, was hired as president of the California League. ... With 62 stolen bases, the Dodgers are second in the league to the Mets.

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Up next
• Thursday: Dodgers (Chad Billingsley, 9-3, 2.83) at White Sox (Clayton Richard, 2-1, 4.03), 11:05 a.m. PT
• Friday: Dodgers (Eric Milton, 2-0, 2.89) vs. Mariners (Jason Vargas, 3-2, 3.24), 7:10 p.m. PT
• Saturday: Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, 4-5, 3.76) vs. Mariners (Felix Hernandez, 7-3, 2.74), 7:10 p.m. PT

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.