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Dodgers' Enrique Hernandez starts in place of Joc Pederson

Dodgers' Enrique Hernandez starts in place of Joc Pederson
Dodgers center fielder Enrique Hernandez makes a running catch on a line drive hitby Astros second baseman Jose Altuve in the third inningon Aug. 22. (Bob Levey / Getty Images)

Enrique Hernandez started for the Dodgers in center field Saturday in place of slumping rookie Joc Pederson, something that could happen with increased frequency in the coming weeks.

"You make a little different decisions now than you would in May or June," Manager Don Mattingly said. "You get to a certain point, you have to put your best club out there."

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With left-hander Scott Kazmir starting for the Houston Astros, it wasn't a surprise Mattingly elected to start the right-handed-hitting Hernandez instead of the left-handed-hitting Pederson. What was a surprise was that Mattingly was noncommittal when asked whether Pederson would start Sunday against Astros right-hander Lance McCullers.

"We'll just see where we're at tomorrow," Mattingly said.

Hernandez started the Dodgers' previous nine games, including eight at second base in place of sidelined Howie Kendrick. With Hernandez batting .324 over that stretch — and .356 since the All-Star break — Mattingly wanted to find a way to keep him in the lineup even after installing Chase Utley as the new second baseman.

Pederson was batting .155 since July 1. He hit only three of his 23 home runs in that period, during which he had an on-base percentage of .304. Through June, he had an on-base percentage of .384.

While Pederson is considered the superior defender, Mattingly said he has confidence in Hernandez as a center fielder — enough to where he said he probably won't consider moving Yasiel Puig or Andre Ethier there.

Hernandez also downplayed the significance of a move back to the outfield.

"To me, all three outfield spots are the same," Hernandez said. "I don't see much of a difference."

No controversy here

The day after the Dodgers were the victims of a no-hitter by the Astros' Mike Fiers, images of a shiny substance on Fiers' glove were circulating around their clubhouse.

Their reaction? Not much.

"I don't want to take anything away from his night," outfielder Carl Crawford said.

Mattingly also viewed the social media-driven controversy as a non-issue, saying, "I think it sounds like you're whining if you look at it and talk about it."

The consensus around the clubhouse was that a significant number of pitchers use something to improve their grip on the ball.

"I think it's pretty much accepted, unless it's blatantly obvious somebody's doing it," Mattingly said.

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That wasn't the case when Fiers no-hit the Dodgers on Friday night, as Mattingly said he didn't notice anything unusual about the way his pitches moved.

For his part, Fiers dismissed the speculation.

"I don't know what they are talking about," he said. "It could be a different lighting or camera angle or a lot of things. I don't know."

Astros Manager A.J. Hinch lamented the situation.

"Last night was about Mike Fiers being a really good major league pitcher and he had a great accomplishment," Hinch said. "Anything that takes away from that is unfortunate, unless there's this massive proof."

Extra bases

Puig returned to the starting lineup after sitting out the last two games because of a mild strain of his right hamstring. … Dodgers senior advisor Gerry Hunsicker was among the speakers at a pregame ceremony honoring recent Hall of Fame inductee Craig Biggio. Hunsicker was the general manager of the Astros when Biggio was a player.

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

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