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Mondesi Falls in Order

Raul Mondesi powered the Dodgers during the first two months of the season, hitting home runs at the fastest pace of his career.

But the star right fielder hasn’t been hitting homers or getting on base much lately. Manager Davey Johnson has noticed, which is why Mondesi was demoted to sixth in the batting order Tuesday night during the Dodgers’ 4-3 loss to the San Diego Padres at Qualcomm Stadium.

Mondesi has not homered in 62 at-bats and he has only one homer in his previous 99 at-bats.

Mondesi was only two for 14 in the first three games of the trip against San Francisco, dropping his average to .261. He still leads the Dodgers with 19 homers and 50 runs batted in, but he’s not providing what the Dodgers need, Johnson said.

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“I love Mondy, but he’s struggling,” Johnson said. “I don’t think he’s hit a homer in two weeks, and it’s just not working right now. I’ve been paying attention.”

Johnson is troubled by what he has seen because Mondesi appears to be regressing at the plate.

Earlier in the season, Mondesi displayed improved patience. He seemed to benefit from his talks with left fielder Gary Sheffield, who has been among the major league’s most discerning batters throughout his career.

Mondesi’s strike zone has expanded throughout his slump. He’s swinging at too many bad pitches.

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“It’s just something that you have to keep working on,” Sheffield said of being disciplined. “Mondy will be fine, but you sometimes go through these things when you’re trying to make adjustments.”

Mondesi declined to comment on being demoted. He was upset when Johnson briefly demoted him from cleanup to fifth April 27, and Johnson figured Mondesi probably was disappointed about Tuesday’s move.

But again, Johnson is the boss.

“I just want what works well for the team,” Johnson said. “Really, that’s all I care about.”

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*

The Padres purchased the contract of veteran infielder Carlos Baerga from triple-A Las Vegas and optioned rookie infielder David Newhan to Las Vegas to make room for Baerga on the 25-man roster.

Newhan, 25, batted .176 (three for 17) with a double and a RBI during 14 games with the Padres after being promoted from Las Vegas on June 4. Newhan’s father, Ross, is the The Times national baseball columnist.

Baerga, 30, batted .286 with two homers and nine RBIs for Las Vegas after signing a free-agent contract with San Diego. Baerga has also played for the Cleveland Indians and New York Mets during nine seasons in the big leagues.

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TONIGHT

DODGERS’ KEVIN BROWN (9-4, 2.89 ERA)

vs.

PADRES’ BRIAN BOEHRINGER (4-1, 2.77 ERA)

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Qualcomm Stadium, 7:30

TV--Fox Sports West 2. Radio--KXTA (1150), KWKW (1330).

* Update--Brown has won in his last two starts and leads the National League in earned-run average. The right-hander lost to his former team, 3-0, April 16 at Qualcomm Stadium. The Padres played money-themed songs throughout that game while having fun at the expense of baseball’s highest-paid player. Center fielder Devon White is expected to play tonight after sitting out the last two games because of a stiff neck and back.


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