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07/18/10 8:26 PM ET

Dodgers hope to get healthy vs. Giants

The Dodgers are expected to have some of their key players back in the lineup during their three-game series with the Giants, which begins on Monday, and it couldn't have come at a better time.

Catcher Russell Martin, outfielder Manny Ramirez and first baseman James Loney have been absent from the Dodgers' lineup recently, but all three are expected to return during this week's pivotal National League West showdown with the Giants.

Martin hasn't caught the last two games for the Dodgers, missing action with a sore left thumb that he was initially pulled with during an eighth-inning at-bat against the Cardinals on Friday. Ramirez, meanwhile, has been nursing a tight right calf. While both have missed the Dodgers' last two games, Loney was scratched for the first time before Sunday's finale in St. Louis with cramps in his left hamstring.

"It's the first joint of the thumb, and it causes [Martin] to hurry offensively, which, as a line-drive hitter, he shouldn't be doing," manager Joe Torre said. "We've just got to get this thing right for the long haul. If he was just enduring discomfort, that's one thing. But it's affecting what he's trying to do with the bat. I noticed he's swinging early in the count a lot."

The Dodgers will need all the help they can get against the Giants, who have been one of the hottest teams in baseball in the month of July. Los Angeles, meanwhile, is coming off suffering a four-game sweep in St. Louis.

The Giants are 10-3 over their past 13 games and have won nine of their past 11. It's been pivotal, as they are in the midst of a stretch of 18 of 22 games on the road.

"I think as much as anything it's the focus these guys came in with, knowing this is part of the schedule and how important it is to play on the road, especially when you have a long stretch, and that can determine your season," manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's how you have to look at it, how important it is, and come out every day and be ready to go.

"We'll look at the whole road trip or schedule, but it's that day that you need to concentrate on and these guys are doing a good job of it."

Giants: Posey playing central role
Among the stars of the Giants' scorching month of July is rookie catcher Buster Posey.

Since becoming the No. 1 backstop after Bengie Molina was traded to the Rangers, Posey's done it all, both at the plate and behind it. He's hit .480 (25-for-52) this month with seven home runs and 13 RBIs. But it's been his handling of the game behind the plate that Posey is most proud of.

"If I don't catch a good game, there's a good chance we're not going to win," Posey said. "I could not have a good game at the plate, and we could win, so that takes precedence."

Dodgers: McDonald steps in
Triple-A Albuquerque right-hander James McDonald is expected to make his first start for the Dodgers this season on Sunday.

The Dodgers created room for McDonald on Sunday by optioning reliever Jon Link, who was already in his fifth callup this season.

Last season, McDonald went 5-5 with a 4.00 ERA for the Dodgers, starting four games and appearing in 45 games overall. He struck out 54 and walked 34 in 63 innings.

Worth noting
Dodgers first baseman Ronnie Belliard snapped an 0-for-20 skid that began before the All-Star break with a fifth-inning single against the Cardinals on Sunday. ... Prior to Sunday's loss against left-hander Johan Santana, the Giants had beaten the last five left-handers they had faced. They're 14-13 against southpaws this season.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.