The Kevin Malone-Davey Johnson feud overshadowed the Dodgers and stirred frustration in the organization.
But the mood has changed at Chavez Ravine because interim General Manager Dave Wallace and Manager Jim Tracy have worked well together.
Although the club still has major roster and payroll problems, officials said Wallace and Tracy have provided stability and confidence.
Of course, that's what they're supposed to do, Wallace and Tracy said.
"That's not for me to judge or comment about," Wallace said of the praise he has received. "I really haven't given that any thought, I'm just trying to approach this job like any other job I've undertaken in my life.
"I just use the resources as best I can each day. But you want to know the thing that has been really helpful? Having a manager, and a coaching staff, that you can communicate with. I can't say enough about how important it is to have that type of relationship with the manager in a job like this."
Tracy echoed that sentiment.
"Communication is a vital element to the success of an organization, and the fact that we are on the same page, the fact that we do communicate so well with one another definitely helps," Tracy said. "When we have to do different things, roster moves or talking to players, not only do we do that, but we continue to take it a step further.
"We make sure that all the other [departments] that are in this organization are enlightened as to what's happening, and what's going, so that everybody else can do their jobs too. That includes more than just the [on-field] personnel. That involves the traveling secretary, people in the minor leagues, [public relations] people. You have to do that. You just have to or it doesn't work any other way."
Second baseman Mark Grudzielanek was activated from the disabled list and infielder Jeff Branson was optioned to triple-A Las Vegas to make room on the 25-man roster.
Grudzielanek, sidelined because of a sprained left ankle, started at second base and batted second, going 0 for 4 and making an error in Thursday's 7-4 victory over the San Diego Padres.
Rookie Hiram Bocachica opened eyes in 10 games subbing for Grudzielanek, batting .262 (11 for 42) with two home runs, seven runs, three runs batted in and two stolen bases.
Scouts said Bocachica is a below-average second baseman, but they are impressed with his offensive tools.
Some of Grudzielanek's teammates teased him about losing his job to Bocachica and being traded, but stranger things have happened.
Although Grudzielanek is batting .306, the Dodgers might trade Grudzielanek if they drop out of contention because he is owed $5 million next season, $5.5 million in 2003 and $6 million in 2004, or a $500,000 buyout.
Grudzielanek understands the situation.
"Some guys are harder to trade because of money and other situations, so teams say, 'Well, we don't have a choice, we have to move this guy or that guy,' " he said. "That's the way it goes. You have to understand it's a business and be ready to move on."
Dodger batting instructor Jack Clark and Tony Gwynn had an acrimonious relationship when they were Padre teammates from 1989-90.
Clark criticized Gwynn for being too concerned with personal matters, suggesting that the eight-time batting champion focused on his titles ahead of team success.
Clark downplayed their differences after Gwynn announced he would retire after the season.
"It was water under the bridge the day after our little incident happened because ours was in the clubhouse. It was about the game, it wasn't about life," Clark said, alluding to a heated closed-door meeting. "It was about trying to win, and every team goes through that. We were just trying to find a way to accomplish a goal.
"You hear it with Shaq and Kobe, or whoever it might be. Tony's a very private person, as I am, so it's not like we're guys you're going to look to hang out with. We like to spend time with our families."
DODGERS' DARREN DREIFORT
(4-7, 4.94 ERA)
PADRES' ADAM EATON
(8-3, 4.29 ERA)
Qualcomm Stadium, 7
TV--Fox Sports Net 2
Radio--KXTA (1150), KWKW (1330)
Update--Dreifort is 1-4 with a 6.49 earned-run average in June, and opponents are batting .304 against him. The right-hander is 0-7 with a 5.11 ERA against the Padres. In five starts this month, Eaton is 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA. He tossed his second career complete game in a 6-1 victory over the Dodgers last Sunday.