Furcal apparently activated

Nothing has been announced yet, but his name appears as a reserve on the lineup card posted in the Dodgers’ clubhouse. He is coming off the 60-day disabled list, which means a corresponding 40-man roster move will have to be made. When he gets into a game, it will be the first time since May 5. He was scratched from the lineup just before game on May 6 with lower-back tightness that eventually required surgery. He was hitting .366 at the time. … By the way, James Loney has won this year’s Roy Campanella Award as the Dodgers’ “most inspirational” player.

Dodgers 10, Padres 1

Torre’s lineup switcheroo obviously worked. Matt Kemp, the new leadoff guy, drew a walk, had two hits and scored a run. Russell Martin, the new No. 2 guy, had two hits, one of them a double, drew two walks and scored a run. Manny Ramirez, who was supposed to benefit from having Andre Ethier hitting behind him, apparently did, doubling in two runs in the first. Nomar and Blake DeWitt each hit three-run HRs. Oh, and the Snakes lost. Let the handwringing come to crashing halt. The Dodgers are 82-75, their lead is a safe three games and their magic number is three, with five to go. Are you starting to smell it yet?

Frank McCourt appears … and then, he speaks

The owner showed up for batting practice today. Not sure why. Didn’t get a chance to ask him, because I knew he had to run for a conference call about two minutes after I got him, and there were more important questions I wanted to ask him. The big one, of course, was the one I knew he wouldn’t answer: Given the way the team has surged into first place, can you say definitively that you plan to bring back all of your key personnel next season? I didn’t specify anyone by name, but Frank knew I was talking about Ned Colletti. Anyway, here is his (non) answer
“It would be such a distraction to everybody and everything if I were to engage in any conversation about that right now. That totally misses the point. Right now, the focus is on playing baseball games and winning.”
Read into that whatever you will. And comment as you wish.

Oh, btw, the lineup switcheroo had more to do with protecting Manny because Loney has been struggling hitting behind him, so Joe wanted to put Ethier there. Joe gave us some convoluted answer as to why he dropped Martin to No. 2, saying he is a good leadoff hitter because he draws a lot of walks, which is true, and then saying that batting second won’t be that different. My guess is the REAL reason is by putting Kemp in the leadoff spot, with Martin, Manny and Ethier behind him, it might mean Kemp gets better pitches to hit and thus won’t strike out as much by chasing pitches out of the zone. Kemp is one strikeout shy of tying the club record, and that’s for Brooklyn AND Los Angeles.

Tonight’s lineup: Martin bumped out of the leadoff spot

Russ is 1 for 11, but with a bunch of walks mixed in there. Matt Kemp is 1 for 9 over his past two games, but the one hit was a home run. Not sure what Joe’s thinking is here, but I’m sure one of us will ask him. Loney is 0 for 3 against Wade LeBlanc, small sample size, so he’s probably just sitting because LeBlanc is a lefty. Ethier drops to cleanup, so we’ll see if Ramirez helps Martin as much as he helped Ethier.

Kemp. CF
Martin. C
Ramirez. LF
Ethier. RF
Garciaparra 1B
Blake. 3B
DeWitt. 2B
Berroa. SS
Billingsley. P

Today’s math lesson

Yes, the momentum has dramatically shifted in the N.L. West. Yes, the Diamondbacks have won seven of their past eight games. Yes, they have gained 2 1/2 games on the Dodgers in the past six days. But no, the Dodgers are not on the verge of blowing this. That isn’t to say they couldn’t still blow it. They definitely could. But the sky isn’t falling just yet. The fact is, the Dodgers still have a two-game lead with six to go, which means they remain firmly in command of this race. If the Dodgers simply play .500 baseball the rest of the way, which means going 3-3, the Diamondbacks will have to go 6-0 to win the division by Sunday or 5-1 and then win a one-game playoff on Monday at Dodger Stadium (where the Snakes have lost six of nine this year). The Dodgers do have to face Jake Peavy and Tim Lincecum. But it’s still going to take one of the biggest collapses of all-time for this to get away.

Giants 1, Dodgers 0

This thing is a long, long way from being over. The Snakes have won six of seven, including today, when they pounded the Rockies. The Dodgers have lost three of five. The Snakes went 19 consecutive days without gaining ground in the standings. Now, they have gained two games on the Dodgers in the past five days. This is going to be a race, after all, and if the Dodgers end up blowing it, they’ll remember today’s first inning, when they loaded the bases with nobody out and couldn’t score, for a long time. Dodgers didn’t have a baseruner over the final five innings of this 11-inning game. Dodgers fall to 81-75, their lead over the Snakes slips to 2 1/2 games, and their magic number stays at five. Dodgers off tomorrow, Snakes begin a four-game set at St. Louis. That will even out the number of games played between the two clubs and eliminate that annoying fraction at the end of the margin.

Moving up in the pecking order

After today, your favorite ballyard up at the top of Chavez Ravine will be the third-oldest park in Major League Baseball. There will be Fenway Park, which opened in 1912. There will be Wrigley Field, which opened in 1914. And there will be Dodger Stadium, which opened in 1962. No one comes here and talks about ghosts or history or legends or wonders what would happen if “these walls could talk.” It isn’t especially intimidating or awe-inspiring. But in a subtle, classy, understated way (the only way Walter O’Malley would have wanted it, presumably), this place has become a classic. Other than a few tweaks here and there, it really hasn’t changed much since it opened — although it figures to change plenty over the next couple of winters, when Frank McCourt plans to radically overhaul the look of the backdrop beyond the bleachers. But no one in Los Angeles is screaming for a new yard, and to Frank’s credit, he isn’t whining that the place is hopelessly outdated (even if, in many ways, it is). Here’s hoping for another 20 or 30 years (at least). Maybe by then, the place will have a few ghosts.

Dodgers 10, Giants 7

Glad I wasn’t covering tonight. This was four hours and three minutes of non-stop fun. But if you looked closely enough, hidden somewhere behind the 15 walks (including four with the bases loaded, two by each team) and the 22 runners left on base, there were two HRs and five RBI by Manny Ramirez and a two-run HR by Matt Kemp. Ugly as it was, it’s a W for the boys, and a big one at that. First of all, it clinches at least a .500 season, and in this division this year, that’s no small accomplishment. Second of all, it keeps their lead over the Snakes at 3 1/2 (Arizona won at Colorado) and shaves the magic number to five. Meanwhile, the Phillies leapfrogged the Mets into first place in the N.L. East. Unless something changes dramatically, whoever wins that division will play the Dodgers in the first round.