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COL@LAD: Loney cranks a two-run blast in the fifth

LOS ANGELES -- It was exactly the night for which James Loney had long been waiting.

After a difficult start to the season, Loney said he felt his swing was turning around recently.

He emphatically supported his case Monday night, providing the power as the Dodgers cruised past the Rockies to an easy 7-1 win at Dodger Stadium.

And nothing supported his case better than the fifth-inning fastball he turned on and sent into the right-field bleachers. Before putting his head down and trotting around the bases, Loney paused a second to watch the ball carry into the night. He said it marked a sense of relief that his work was paying off.

"It feels good," Loney said. "I've been waiting for this feeling to have it again, and it took a while, but I felt that it was gonna come. Now hopefully I can just keep it."

Loney's average was consistently below .200 throughout April, and although he has swung the bat better in May, it is still only .249. Those numbers, Loney said, only made him work harder.

"I know it was gonna be a tough road," he said. "When you're feeling good, you're not gonna get hits sometimes. That's frustrating, but you go out there and battle. That's the name of the game."

It wasn't just Loney who broke through Monday. It was the entire offense. A day after the Dodgers posted a season-high 17 hits, they pounded out 11 more. The last two games marked the first time Los Angeles scored more than four runs in back-to-back games since it did so five times in a row April 20-24.

"It really is [nice] to put runs on the board in bunches," manager Don Mattingly said. "Hopefully, this gives us momentum."

On Monday, that offensive momentum got started in the third, when Jamey Carroll, who had fouled off two bunt attempts earlier in the at-bat, dribbled a slow roller up the third-base line and beat Ty Wigginton's throw.

"That was just complete luck," said Carroll, who couldn't have placed the ball any better had he been bunting. "I didn't get the bunt down, but fortunately that worked out in our favor."

Carroll reached first and was credited with a hit, loading the bases for a red-hot Andre Ethier, who drove the ball up the middle and past a sprawling Eric Young Jr. to plate two. Ethier finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs and improved to .571 (8-for-14) on the homestand.

Ethier's offense has improved immensely since he sat for three games in Houston with multiple minor bruises. He took that time to work on the fundamentals of his swing, which he said may have gone awry during his 30-game hitting streak.

"I don't think I ever had a good feeling in the streak," he said. "I just got hits. I think that was a problem. In a streak, sometimes you do the wrong things mechanical-wise to get hits rather than doing the right thing the way you need to."

After Ethier's single, the Dodgers scored two more runs in the inning and tacked on another in the fifth before Loney's long ball put the game out of reach for good.

Chad Billingsley got the win to even his record at 4-4, but his night was much tougher than the one run he allowed would indicate.

"It's a funny game," said Billingsley, who gave up a career-high 11 hits. "To give up 11 hits and only give up one run. It's just a matter of bearing down when you need to, making big pitches when you have to."

Rockies manager Jim Tracy, whose club amassed 14 hits, wasn't amused.

"I don't know how many games I've managed where you got 14 hits and scored one run," Tracy said. "But I've seen some different things already through the course of 53 games. It's unfortunate."

The Rockies had runners on base in every inning against Billingsley, but none scored. Their only run came on a Wigginton homer in the fourth inning.

They did manage one hit with a runner in scoring position, a Troy Tulowitzki single to center in the first, but Matt Kemp threw a bullet to nail Carlos Gonzalez at home plate.

Billingsley faced his biggest jam in the seventh, when he loaded the bases with one out. With the bullpen already busy, Mattingly chose to stick with Billingsley.

"I was gonna battle them," Billingsley said. "I did not want to come out of that game."

He induced a double-play ball to short on a pitch he said he missed, but missed low.

In the bottom of the third inning, Billingsley took matters into his own hands offensively, sparking the rally with a single through the right side. It marked the second straight day the Dodgers scored four runs in the third, and ironically both times the rallies started with a pitcher.

Whether it was the hitting coming from the pitcher's spot, the resurgence of Loney or the return of Ethier, in the last two games, the Dodgers' offense has become what Mattingly has been looking for all season.

The question now, Mattingly said, is how to make that continue. He thinks he has the type of team that can do just that.

"The guys play consistently hard but haven't been able to put wins up," he said. "You get in a streak when you play good baseball. We've got the kind of pitching where we can get on a streak." Comments