Home edge not a worry . . . yet


When the Dodgers took the field at Dodger Stadium on Friday night, the St. Louis Cardinals were about to move to within half a game of them in the race for the best record in the National League.

But Manager Joe Torre said he wasn’t concerned about securing home-field advantage through the league championship series -- at least not yet.

“If we get to the point where that’s the issue we’re dealing with, then we’ll address that,” Torre said.


They are getting closer to that point after losing to the San Diego Padres, falling to 80-56, the same record as the NL Central-leading Cardinals, who routed the Pittsburgh Pirates, 14-7.

Philadelphia, which leads the East, dropped to 77-55 by falling, 7-0, in Houston.

Torre said the Dodgers’ rotation depth -- a cynic might call that a euphemism for the lack of a clear-cut ace -- might make him more likely to use a top starter in the final days of the regular season in an effort to gain home-field advantage instead of preserving that pitcher for an early game of a divisional series.

“There isn’t somebody you wouldn’t trust pitching in the postseason,” he said of his six-man rotation.

Torre noted how when managing the New York Yankees in 2005, he opted to skip Mike Mussina on the last day of the regular season so that he would be available to pitch in Game 1 of the division series. The Yankees lost that regular-season game, which gave the Angels home-field advantage in their division series. The Angels took the series.

While Torre said the team with a home-field edge has a tactical advantage -- in its ability to use its closer in the top of an inning of a tie game -- the Dodgers aren’t necessarily a better team at Dodger Stadium.

Take away their 13-game home winning streak to start the season and the Dodgers are only 29-28 at home.

They are 38-28 on the road.

Chew on this

James Loney has drawn some criticism for a lack of power, but two of his nine home runs were hit in a span of nine games leading up to Friday and the first baseman said he thinks he might know why: He has stopped wearing a mouth guard.

Loney made the change at the insistence of bench coach Bob Schaefer, who told him people lose strength when biting down on something.

Loney said that Schaefer demonstrated this to him by having him stick both of his arms out to his side, parallel to the floor, as he wore the mouthpiece.

Schaefer was able to push down his arms.

Schaefer had Loney stick his arms out again, only this time with Loney not wearing a mouthpiece.

Schaefer couldn’t push his arms down.

“Weird, huh?” Loney said.

Asked if there was any scientific basis to Schaefer’s theory, trainer Stan Conte replied, “None that I’m aware of.”

Viva Los Dodgers

The Dodgers will host their second annual Manny Ramirez look-alike contest today at their Viva Los Dodgers event, which starts at 1:30 p.m. in Parking Lot 1 at Dodger Stadium.

The headlining musical act will be Mexican ranchera singer Paquita la del Barrio, who has a song titled “Rata de Dos Patas” (“Two-legged rat”) and is known for mocking male members of her audience.

The festival is open to everyone with a ticket for tonight’s game.

Hudson sits again

Orlando Hudson sat out Thursday’s game because Torre said he thought he looked tired. He sat again Friday because Torre wanted to give another start at second base to Ronnie Belliard, who was two for three with three runs batted in as his replacement.