Tonight’s lineup … and a BIG announcement coming Thursday

That announcement is that the 2009 World Baseball Classic semifinals and finals will be held at Dodger Stadium, with one semi March 21, the other semi March 22 and the final March 23. The press conference will be held on Thursday in the Stadium Club, several hours before that night’s showdown with the Snakes. I’ll be contentedly chronicling the daily doings of the Dodgers in Glendale, Ariz., on those days — that’s right around the time the opening-day roster should be starting to take shape — but some people actually find this WBC thing interesting. MLB president and COO Bob DuPuy will be on hand Thursday, along with several Dodgers officials, broadcasters and players.

Here’s tonight’s lineup. Jones still sitting. Martin also is sitting because Joe wants him to rest for one game before the Arizona series, because he is playing all four of those.

Pierre. LF
Kemp. CF
Ethier. RF
Kent. 2B
Loney. 1B
Blake. 3B
Berroa. SS
Ardoin. C
Johnson. RHP

Giants 7, Dodgers 6

The boys looked for all the world like they were going to come back from a 7-0 deficit and win. But after scoring five in the fifth and one in the sixth — and leaving the tying run on third when Juan Pierre flied out — they never had another baserunner. Pierre’s fly ball began a string of 10 consecutive outs from that point until the end of the game. The last Dodgers’ hit was by, of all people, Andruw Jones, who delivered a pinch-hit, RBI single to drive in the final Dodgers run. Hiroki Kuroda was pretty much awful, giving up seven earned runs on nine hits over 3 2/3 innings. In three second-half starts, he is now 0-2 with a 13.11 ERA. Dodgers fall to 52-53, but the Snakes and the Rox both lost, so the standings remain unchanged, at least at the top. Dodgers stay one game back.

Tonight’s lineup

It’s pretty basic, or at what is now considered pretty basic with Andruw Jones having taken a seat. Padilla covering the game tonight, so I probably won’t blog much until postgame unless there is breaking news.

Dodgers:

Pierre. LF
Kemp. CF
Martin. C
Kent. 2B
Loney. 1B
Blake. 3B
Ethier. RF
Berroa. SS
Kuroda. RHP

Dodgers 2, Nationals 0

Clayton Kershaw finally gets his first big-league win, giving the Dodgers six-plus shutout innings in which he allowed just four hits. Dodgers outscored the hapless Nats 11-2, holding them scoreless for the final 19 innings. This Washington team is, to put it mildly, not very good. Dodgers got a home run from James Loney, and an RBI single from Russell Martin, and that was more than enough to complete the three-game sweep. Dodgers finally get back to .500 at 52-52, first time since they were 27-27 on May 30, and since then they had fallen as many as seven games under — 31-38 on June 15 after getting predictably swept in Detroit. That’s the good news. The bad news is that while the Dodgers were sweeping the Nats, the Snakes were sweeping the Giants, so the boys stay a game back in the standings, and the Rockies were sweeping the Reds, so they stay six back. They’ll be a factor before it’s all said and done.

Jones sitting … for how long, nobody knows

Joe Torre said this morning that, “Right now, we’re going with the hot hands.” Andruw, of course, isn’t that right now. Basically, what that means is that Andruw has to wait until someone else cools off until he gets back into the lineup on an everyday basis. “It means we’re trying to win as many games as we can,” Torre said. Joe also said there could be matchups, such as certain opposing pitchers, that he’ll still want to play Jones against. “(But) we faced two left-handers (Friday and Saturday), and I saw some good at-bats here and there. But there is still a lot of stuff he has to get better at. I’m not speaking out of school, because Andruw feels the same way.”

LF Pierre
CF Kemp
C Martin
2B Kent
1B Loney
SS Garciaparra
3B Blake
RF Ethier
LH Kershaw

Trade becomes official

Just got the release from Josh, which I pasted below. Again, this is a scaled-down version of the eight-player deal the clubs never consummated earlier this month. That one was CC Sabathia, Casey Blake and Jamey Carroll for (I believe) Santana, Matt Kemp, James McDonald, Cory Wade and Andy LaRoche. I didn’t know who those players were when I reported that deal and McCourt denied he had nixed the trade for financia reasons and that the real problem was that the players simply didn’t match up. Once I found out who the players were (in dribs and drabs over the past couple of weeks), I tend to agree with him. Anyway, here’s the release. Corresponding roster move probably won’t be announced until they tell the player affected, but it almost has to be either LaRoche or DeWitt.

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Dodgers announced today they have acquired third baseman Casey Blake and cash considerations from the Cleveland Indians in exchange for minor league catcher Carlos Santana and minor league right-hander Jonathan Meloan. The announcement was made by Dodger General Manager Ned Colletti.

“Casey Blake is a gamer,” said Colletti. “His experience and character will be a plus as we head down the stretch in the final two months of the regular season.”

Blake leads the Indians with a .289 batting average and 58 runs batted in this season. He has hit 11 home runs and has posted a .365 on-base percentage and .465 slugging percentage. Blake’s .393 batting average with runners in scoring position ranks fifth in the Major Leagues in 2008.

The Des Moines, Iowa native set career highs for Cleveland in home runs (28), RBI (88), hits (159) and runs scored (93) in 2004. Last season, Blake slugged 18 homers and drove in 78 runs while helping the Indians reach the postseason. In the American League Championship Series, he batted .346 (9-for-26) with one home run and two runs batted in.

He has appeared in 859 career games spanning 10 seasons with the Blue Jays, Twins, Orioles, and Indians. The versatile veteran has played the majority of his career at third base, but also has logged significant playing time at first base and right field.

Blake attended Wichita State University, where he was drafted by the Blue Jays in the seventh round of the 1996 First-Year Player Draft. In his biography in the 2008 Indians Media Guide, Blake lists his favorite baseball moment at Kirk Gibson’s game-winning home run for the Dodgers in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

Meloan, 24, is 5-10 with a 4.97 ERA in 21 games (20 starts) for Triple-A Las Vegas. He has struck out 99 batters in 105.0 innings for the 51s. The right-hander reached the Major Leagues in 2007 for the first time, appearing in five games for the Dodgers and posting an 11.05 ERA in limited action. He is in his fourth professional season after being selected in the fifth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft.

Santana, 22, is batting .323 with 14 homers and 96 RBI in 99 games for Single-A Inland Empire. The Dominican Republic native is in his fourth professional season after being signed as a free agent on Aug. 13, 2004.

Trade: Dodgers reportedly acquire Casey Blake from Indians

Although no one in the organization will confirm it, the Dodgers are believed to have agreed in principle on a three-player trade with Cleveland — a scaled-down version of the earlier eight-player trade that would have brought CC Sabathia to Los Angeles. This one will bring third baseman Casey Blake to the Dodgers, along with cash considerations to cover the slightly more than $2 million he is still owed for the rest of the season. In return, the Indians get Jon Meloan, the fireballing reliever and potential closer who had a shaky debut for the Dodgers last September and hasn’t been back to the majors since, and Carlos Santana, one of the Dodgers’ many catching prospect and the one who is thought to be the farthest away from the majors. He is having an OUTSTANDING season at Single-A Inland Empire, but with Russell Martin a fixture in the majors and Lucas May a year ahead of Santana, Santana became expendable.

Blake will become the Dodgers’ everyday 3B. Not sure what this means for Andy LaRoche and Blake DeWitt, other than one of them is probably headed to Las Vegas. More as the day goes on.

Dodgers 3, Nationals 2

And they did it in a crisp 2:16, making the sportswriters just as happy as the fans. Chad Billingsley was solid, scattering five hits over 7 2/3 innings. Nomar Garciaparra had the big hit for the Dodgers, a two-run single with the bases loaded in the sixth to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead, and the Dodgers tacked on another one when James Loney followed with a run-scoring groundout. That was all it took for the boys to improve to 50-52. Snakes are pounding the Giants in the ninth, so the Dodgers will stay one game back. … BTW, I’m missing tomorrow’s game, first one all year, so unless someone else steps up, this blog is going to take a day off, as well. I’ll check in with you early Sunday morning. Have a great weekend, everybody.