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Colletti trades for Sweeney

Times Staff Writer

CINCINNATI -- Frustrated in his attempts to add offensive help before last month’s nonwaiver trade deadline, Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti finally swung a deal for a hitter Thursday, acquiring veteran first baseman Mark Sweeney from the San Francisco Giants for future considerations.

The 37-year-old Sweeney, whose 155 pinch-hits rank second in baseball history, gives the Dodgers a much-needed left-handed bat in reserve. In 89 at-bats this season, mostly as a pinch-hitter, he’s hitting .247 with two home runs.

The Dodgers will have to clear a spot for Sweeney before tonight’s game in St. Louis, and that’s not the only move the team is likely to make before the end of the month, when rosters must be set for postseason play.

With Derek Lowe still a question mark because of a sore hip, the Dodgers are continuing to search for pitching depth.

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With the rotation jumbled by an off day earlier this week, Brett Tomko wound up starting Thursday only because the team wanted to keep Chad Billingsley pitching on his regular schedule and wanted to give Lowe a couple of extra days to get healthy.

But after a solid six-inning effort against the Reds in which he allowed three runs -- one scoring on an out and two others on the only mistake Tomko made all day, a hanging slider that Alex Gonzalez hit for a two-run homer -- the right-hander claimed the change did him some good, too.

“It kind of felt like I was going through spring training again,” said Tomko, who had six days off between starts. “Last start my arm felt just a little bit tired. The ball didn’t seem like it was jumping out. But today I felt a little bit better. And it ended up being a decent day.”

And Tomko, who said he once pitched in Riverfront Stadium on a day when the temperature on the artificial turf reached 160 degrees, melting one player’s plastic cleats, said he also benefited from the record heat that gripped Cincinnati this week.

“It’s nice to get a little sweat working,” Tomko said of temperatures that reached 99 Thursday with a heat index about five degrees hotter. “It’s just one of those things if you can overcome, not let it bother you, you kind of feel like you have a little bit of an advantage.”

When the Dodgers swept the Reds in Los Angeles at the beginning of May, outscoring them, 19-8, it sent Cincinnati into a tailspin that saw it lose 31 of its next 46 games, costing manager Jerry Narron his job.

Dodgers Manager Grady Little took note of that while suggesting his team’s offensive struggles against the Reds this week could influence another decision regarding the team’s coaching staff.

“The way we played the Reds the last time I feel like we played a small part in getting the manager fired,” Little said. “The way we’re playing now, I feel like we’re playing a small part in getting their pitching coach [Dick Pole] a raise. Or a contract extension.”

kevin.baxter@latimes.com


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