LOS ANGELES -- Rod Barajas hit his fourth home run in eight games for the Dodgers on Friday night, and it wouldn't be wrong to think that the 12-year Major League vet could earn his way to a job on next year's team.
"What you see now you have to take seriously," manager Joe Torre said. "I don't think there's any question. He's been around awhile; it's not like he came out of the woodwork somewhere. Early in the year he hit a bunch of home runs for the Mets, and I have faced him a number of times. He was over there with Texas for a time; he's always been dangerous."
Barajas is batting .375 with eight RBIs since the Dodgers claimed him off waivers from the Mets. A Southern California native, Barajas turned 35 on Saturday and is on a one-year deal that could be worth nearly $2 million with bonuses.
The Dodgers' catching situation is uncertain for 2011, when Russell Martin will attempt to return from a season-ending fracture to his right hip. Martin hit .248 with five home runs and 26 RBIs in 97 games, an underwhelming season.
Dodgers prepared to lean on Kuo
LOS ANGELES -- Only twice this season had Hong-Chih Kuo pitched on back-to-back days before Saturday night, as the Dodgers attempt to protect a left elbow that's been surgically repaired four times. Now, with less than a month left in the regular season and the Dodgers in need of a win nearly every night, Kuo will available for repeat duty more often.
"He keeps saying 'Yes, yes, yes,'" manager Joe Torre said before Saturday night's game with the Giants at Dodger Stadium. "We're at a point now if it makes sense, we'll probably do it."
After earning his eighth save of the season Friday night in a 4-2 win over San Francisco, Kuo got two big outs for the Dodgers in the eighth inning on Saturday before Jonathan Broxton blew the save opportunity and the Dodgers fell, 5-4.
It was expected at one point that Broxton, an All-Star like Kuo, would regain the full-time closer's role when he ceded it last month, but he hasn't pitched well enough for that. The Dodgers will likely finish up the season playing the matchups in the end-game.
"We're going to go to matchup city," Torre said.
Torre sits Kemp, Theriot vs. Giants
LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp and Ryan Theriot were both out of the Dodgers' starting lineup Saturday night, moves manager Joe Torre said he made to get other players in the lineup.
Jay Gibbons, hitting .346 with two homers and six RBIs in 18 games, got the start in Kemp's place, in left field batting sixth. Scott Podsednik, who had the day off Friday, returned to the top of the order and moved from left to center.
Jamey Carroll entered 4-for-13 lifetime off Matt Cain, Saturday's starter for the Giants, while Theriot was 3-for-17, so Torre put Carroll in at second base.
"I wanted to give Gibbons a game," Torre said. "We haven't had a lot of real information here but I just thought I'd play Jamey at second."
Theriot is hitting .307 with a home run and eight RBIs in 31 games since joining the Dodgers. Where Theriot will bat on days that Podsednik and Rafael Furcal are both in the lineup, and presumably hitting first and second, is to be seen.
Dodgers keep playoff hopes alive
LOS ANGELES -- The National League West-leading Padres' losing streaked reached nine games Saturday with a 6-2 loss to the Rockies, and it means the Dodgers' best chances to make the playoffs might lie in an NL West title instead of the Wild Card.
"We've dug ourselves a hole and we have to be able to work our way out, which is certainly possible," Los Angeles manager Joe Torre said. "Because if you asked somebody a couple weeks ago, the prospects of San Diego losing seven, eight, nine games in a row -- never happen. Their pitching's too good, their defense, and all of a sudden, here we are. They're at home and now they're struggling -- strange things happen this time of year."
The Padres' loss put the Dodgers 7 1/2 games back of San Diego entering Saturday night's game vs. San Francisco, with the Giants 2 1/2 out and the Rockies 5 1/2 out. The Dodgers stood eight games back in the Wild Card, but there are five teams between them and the top.
"In order to win two, three, four, five, six, seven games in a row, you have to do it one a time," Torre said. "I know it sounds pretty simple, but every once in a while you're peeking. You're looking at that leaderboard. You can't do that; you got to control what you can and hope that what you wind up doing is good enough."
The Dodgers play just one out-of-division opponent the rest of the way, the Astros for a four-game set in Houston next week.
Once the Dodgers' postseason hopes are determined, for better or worse, Torre has said he would announce whether he will return to the team next year. But up until Friday, he had been willing to discuss his thought process -- not so the last two days.
"I can't fight you guys or try to get around you," Torre told reporters. "You guys are good at what you do; fold up the tent is what I'm doing right now. In due time I'll make an announcement."
Manager prospect Wallach to join Dodgers
LOS ANGELES -- The most intriguing of the Dodgers' September callups is Tim Wallach.
The Triple-A Albuquerque manager and former Dodgers third baseman will join the big league club after the Pacific Coast League season concludes and remain with the club until the season ends. His presence will only further stir speculation about the future of manager Joe Torre and who succeeds him if Torre doesn't return.
Hitting coach Don Mattingly has been the presumed heir apparent to Torre since both arrived three years ago, and there have been no indications that anything has changed.
Meanwhile, Wallach has been paying his dues managing at Triple-A the past two seasons. He spent two weeks last September with the Major League team and has spoken before about his desire to become a Major League manager.
Wallach's Isotopes went into Saturday night's play in second place in the American Southern Division, three games out with three games to play. Last year, his first at Albuquerque, Wallach led the Isotopes to a division title and a club-record 80 wins. He was named the league's Manager of the Year and Baseball America's best manager prospect.
Like Mattingly, Wallach has player credibility with a 17-year big league career, five All-Star selections, three Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.