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Loney confident LA taking good swings

Loney confident LA taking good swings

PHILADELPHIA -- James Loney and the Dodgers could be taking some better at-bats. They could be scoring a few more runs, getting a few more big hits. But really, they're just glad to face a couple of pitchers without major awards on their mantels.

In Game 2 of the National League Championship Series, three-time Cy Young winner Pedro Martinez baffled the Dodgers for seven innings. In Game 3, reigning American League Cy Young winner Cliff Lee mesmerized them for eight. Without taking anything away from Game 4 starter Joe Blanton or Cole Hamels, scheduled to go in Game 5, the Dodgers probably would rather face them than Martinez on a good night or Lee on any night.

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Dodgers at a glance
2009 record: 95-67
2008 record: 84-78
NL West champs
NL best record
NLCS matchup:
Phillies at Dodgers
Postseason tix: Buy now

WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
Loney: Taking good swings
Kuo: Long road back
Thome: Back in Philly
Loney: Building resume
Bullpen: Led by Broxton
Torre: Rep precedes him
Blake: Chemistry guy
Kershaw: Game 1 nod?
Dodgers: Eyes on prize
Kemp: Path of the pros
Furcal: Back healthy
Kershaw: Like Koufax
Hudson: Keeping head up
Billingsley: Unknown role
Ethier: Slump over
Torre: Tough decisions
Kershaw: Elite comparisons
Kemp: Nearly elite
Kershaw: Path to the pros
Billingsley: Fate in balance
Ethier: Aims to improve
Torre: Back to playoffs
Kershaw: Ready to rock
Rotation: Plenty of options
Kemp: Chasing LA history
Bullpen: Dominant pair
Honeycutt: Pitching guru
Kemp: Tools to match talent
Ethier: Walk-off wonder
Billingsley: Vying for spot
Ethier/Kemp: Dynamic duo
Torre: Another pennant race
Pierre: Receives high praise
Kershaw: Beyond his years

"I think [in Game 3] we lost our patience," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "Falling behind six, eight runs, and having a guy like Cliff Lee on the mound, who is pretty special to begin with, and then have the ability to throw strikes on a regular basis with more than one pitch. And I think we sort of -- I don't want to say lose our focus as much as we got a little overanxious against him."

Loney, who went 6-for-16 in the Dodgers' first four postseason games, was 0-for-6 in Games 2 and 3 of the NLCS. He said he didn't have an issue with the way he and his teammates are taking their at-bats.

"We've been taking good swings," he said. "I think throughout the lineup we might have been missing our pitch a few times. But guys are taking good swings, guys are being aggressive, so that's all you can ask for."

The worry is that when a team scuffles at the plate for a while, hitters can try to do too much. Rather than taking their normal at-bats, players on a slumping team sometimes seem to try to hit the ball out of the park with every swing.

"I think [you] just try not to overdo it," Loney said. "Trying to do what you can, not really going up there thinking you have to get the big hit, more recognizing the pitch and then reacting, not trying to make something happen. You know, sometimes you get kind of caught up, guys might get kind of caught up in the hype. But overall I don't think we've done that too much. Guys have still been going up there, getting good pitches, just like we did in the last series against the Cardinals."

Still, it will help with that approach if they start seeing some mistakes from the other pitchers.

"I'm not really concerned about our bats," Torre said. "They work, and again, we've seen this before. I think that's why probably we've played so many close games, because we've done well in those types of games. These games get away from us, not to say you don't come back and win those games, but it's not one of the normal things we do."

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

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