DeWitt, Berroa hit homers to spark Dodgers

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—The Dodgers are getting it done with a keystone combination of Blake DeWitt at second base and Angel Berroa at shortstop.

Those weren’t exactly the plans drawn up at the beginning of the season. Or last week, for that matter.

DeWitt and Berroa hit the first back-to-back homers for Los Angeles this season in a 6-4 victory over the San Diego Padres on Wednesday night that completed a sweep of the three-game series.

The win was the Dodgers’ fifth straight following a season-long eight-game losing streak, and left them 1 1/2 games behind NL West-leading Arizona entering a three-game series between the teams beginning Friday night at Dodger Stadium. Dan Haren (14-7) pitches for the Diamondbacks in the opener against Derek Lowe (11-11).

Both teams are off Thursday before meeting for the final time this season. The Diamondbacks have an 8-7 record against the Dodgers, but lost two of three to Los Angeles in Arizona last weekend.

“We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole last week,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “We’re playing an obviously important series this weekend. We’ve come a little ways back. Hopefully we can continue to grind. My goal right now is to be ready to play, make sure we don’t give them any liberties, be the club we can be.”

Casey Blake, hitting cleanup for the first time since being acquired from Cleveland on July 26, homered for the Dodgers, who have scored 33 runs in the last five games after scoring only 15 in the previous eight.

“We’re getting better at-bats, that’s the important thing,” Torre said.

DeWitt and Berroa, who both spent a significant amount of time in the minors this season, have started the last five games—DeWitt in place of the injured Jeff Kent, and Berroa instead of Nomar Garciaparra.

All five have been victories.

The Dodgers trailed 3-1 before scoring four runs in the fourth to go ahead for good on a two-run homer by DeWitt, a solo shot by Berroa and an RBI single by Blake.

Berroa’s homer was his first since Sept. 25, 2006, when he was playing for Kansas City.

Berroa couldn’t remember his last big-league homer, but that’s understandable considering he’d spent most of his time playing for Triple-A Omaha before being traded to the Dodgers by Kansas City on June 6. He was the AL Rookie of the Year for the Royals in 2003.

“Now, I’m back, got my swing back,” he said. “That’s what it is. I feel good because I’m getting a chance to help my team.”

Berroa has hit .364 (12-for-33) in his last 10 games to raise his average to .235.

Because of injuries, DeWitt was the Dodgers’ starting third baseman on opening day, making his big-league debut. He’s filled in at second since Kent injured his knee last Friday night.

“It’s been great, I’m having fun,” said the 23-year-old DeWitt, who’s gone 6-for-19 since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas. “I know I’ve got a lot to work on, especially at second base. After a couple games, I settled down.”

DeWitt was demoted to Las Vegas when the Dodgers acquired Blake.

Hiroki Kuroda (8-10) was the winner despite allowing 10 hits and four runs in 5 1-3 innings with one walk and four strikeouts. He gave up 26 hits and 10 earned runs in 39 1-3 innings over his previous six starts.

Jonathan Broxton, the fifth Dodgers pitcher, worked a perfect ninth for his 12th save in 14 chances since taking over the closer’s role.

Rookie Chase Headley had three hits and Josh Bard drove in three runs for the Padres, who have lost 11 of 16.

The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead off Wade LeBlanc (0-1) in the third when Berroa doubled and scored on a one-out single by Russell Martin. LeBlanc avoided further damage by pitching out of a bases-loaded jam.

The Padres went ahead 3-1 in the fourth on a leadoff homer by Kevin Kouzmanoff, his 20th, and a two-out, two-run double by Bard. The Padres got their final run and chased Kuroda in the sixth, scoring on Bard’s RBI single.

San Diego threatened in the seventh before Cory Wade struck out Will Venable with runners at first and third to end the inning. Blake homered off Mike Adams in the bottom half to complete the scoring.

LeBlanc, a 24-year-old left-hander making his big-league debut, allowed eight hits and five runs in four innings.

“Wade couldn’t seem to get any rhythm with his pitches,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “The command was off, he ran some deep counts and couldn’t seem to find the feel for his changeup. The Dodgers had some good at-bats against him and fouled a number of pitches off. Hopefully, he learned something tonight. He’s a confident young man and he’s got a good head on his shoulders, so I’m sure he will.”

Notes

Kent, who underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday, made an appearance for the team picture, but left without speaking to reporters. “He feels wonderful compared to how he felt a couple days ago,” Torre said. “It will still take two or three weeks until he’s probably game ready.” … Torre said closer Takashi Saito is scheduled to throw Thursday before pitching in a simulated game Saturday and another Tuesday or Wednesday, setting up a possible return the weekend of Sept. 13-14. … Torre said OF Juan Pierre, who pulled up with a back problem while running out a grounder Tuesday night, was much better and could play if necessary. … Dodgers 1B James Loney went hitless in four at-bats to end his 13-game hitting streak.

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