Morning briefing

The Dodgers have signed first-round pick Aaron Miller, the CBS affiliate in Waco, TX reports, via Jon Weisman at Dodger Thoughts. Miller was drafted 36th overall by the Dodgers as a left-handed pitcher; he reportedly gets a nearly $900,000 signing bonus.

Manny Ramirez didn’t play today in Albuquerque due to a rain delay. His next stop will be to join the Inland Empire 66ers in taking on Lake Elsinore on Saturday and Rancho Cucamonga beginning Sunday.

ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick names reliever Ronald Belisario one of MLB’s Top 9 rookies, Dodger bloggers Sons of Steve Garvey passes on.

Postgame

The Dodgers lost to the Chicago White Sox 6-5 in 13 innings today. For a full recap and boxscore click here

The bare essentials:

* Nothing like a 13-inning, 4 1/2 hour marathon on getaway day, right?

* Jeff Weaver took the loss, surrendering an RBI sinle to Scott Podsednik with two outs in the bottom of the 13th, scoring pinch-runner Gordon Beckham from third base for the winning run.

* For the second time in two games the Dodgers could not hold a lead, coughing up a 4-0 advantage between the fifth and sixth innings. All five runs were charged to starter Chad Billingsley.

* Granted, it was a 13-inning game, but the Dodgers left 21 runners on base, a day after stranding 18 in Wednesday’s loss to the White Sox.

* Matt Kemp had a game to forget, going 0 for 6 at the plate.

* Orlando Hundson had three hits and two RBIs and Mark Loretta had two hits and two RBIs

Etc…etc…

* The Dodgers dropped their first series in more than a month, breaking a string of eight straight series victories.

* The Dodgers were 4 of 16 with runners in scoring position, a direct contrast for a team that’s been so clutch in that situation.

* Credit the White Sox bullpen, which pitched 8.2 innings of shutout relief.

On deck:
The Dodgers return home to start three game series with the Seattle Mariners as LHP Jason Vargas (3-2) faces LHP Clayton Kershaw (4-5)

Dodgers postgame

The Dodgers lost to the White Sox, 10-7, tonight at Cellular Field. For a full recap and boxscore click here

What You Should Know:

* For a team that has struggled offensively this year – especially at home – the Sox looked downright lethal while smashing six home runs, three off starter Randy Wolf, two off reliever Corey Wade and one off James McDonald. Alexi Ramirez, Jermaine Dye, Paul Konerko, Jayson Nix and Josh Fields (2) all went deep for Chicago.

* Wolf got roughed up for five runs on seven hits in just 3.1 innings.

* Wade and McDonald weren’t much better in relief, combining to give up six hits and five runs in just 3.2 innings of work.

* Matt Kemp gave the Dodgers some hope in the top of the eighth when he crushed a three-run home run to left field off Jimmy Gobble to make it 10-7. But Octavio Dotel came on to strike out Rafael Furcal with Juan Pierre at first base to end the inning, and the threat.

Etc…etc…

* You know it’s a bad night when the other team’s seventh and ninth hitters combine for four hits and six RBIs.

* The Dodgers stranded 18 runners.

* The Dodgers did not have an extra base hit against Sox starter Gavin Floyd.

* Mark Loretta had two hits and an RBI, Orlando Hudson added and RBI single and Russell Martin had two singles.

* Pierre doubled and scored in the seventh inning.

On deck:

The Dodgers go for their ninth straight series win tomorrow at 11:05 a.m., sending RHP Chad Billingsley (9-3, 2.83) against LHP Clayton Richard (2-1, 4.03)

Manny on the move; Ohman sent back to Los Angeles for MRI

Joe Torre met with the media today in Chicago and laid out the plan for Manny Ramirez for the next week or so. Ramirez is currently playing for the Dodgers Triple-A team in Albuqurque, but with the Isotopes headed for the road this weekend, Manny will join Single-A Inland Empire at Lake Elsinore Saturday and Sunday, then play for the 66ers at home next week.

“Saturday Manny will play for Inland Empire at Lake Elsinore,” Torre said. “After that, he’ll go to San Bernadino for a few games. That’s the plan for now. It’s up to him whether he wants to play left field or DH. I was surprisd he played left last night, I thought he would DH.”

Torre also said reliever Will Ohman was sent back to Los Angeles from a rehab assignment in Albuqurque after experiencing discomfort in his left elbow. Ohman was expected to pitch Tuesday and Wednesday in Triple-A before re-joining the Dodgers over the weekend off the disabled list. Obviously that is up in the air at this point.

“Will Ohman hurt himself and he went back to LA for an MRI. His left elbow” Torre said. “He was warming up and had to stop. Even if he hadn’t hurt himself, we were going to have to find a way to keep him and Leach. That’s a good story there. He’s really earned his stripes.”

Dodgers pregame

Los Angeles Dodgers (47-24) vs. Chicago White Sox (33-37)

Pitching matchup: LHP Randy Wolf (3-2, 3.29) vs. RHP Gavin Floyd (4-5, 4.65)

Lineups:

Dodgers:

Pierre 7
Furcal 6
Hudson 4
Blake 5
Ethier 9
Loretta DH
Loney 3
Martin 2
Kemp 8

Wolf 1

White Sox:

Podsednik 7
Ramirez 6
Dye 9
Konerko DH
Pierzynski 2
Anderson 8
Nix 4
Beckham 5
Fields 3

Floyd 1

This just in, the Dodgers are pretty good

With a tip of the cap to our friends in the Dodgers P.R. department, a little perspective on how well The Big Blue is playing right now:

The Dodgers are off to their best 71-game start since 1974, when they were 47-24 after losing to the Braves on June 24, 1974.

The Dodgers have won three in a row, four of five, and seven of their last 10 games. At 22-14, their road record is the second best in baseball, next to the Philadelphia Phillies (24-9).

The Dodgers are unbeaten in their last eight series, going 6-0-2 with a 16-9 overall mark in that span. The Dodgers last lost a series May 22-24, when the Angels took two of three at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles has not lost a series on the road since the Giants took two of three in San Francisco from April 27-29.

The Dodgers are the only team in Major League Baseball that has not lost three games in a row this season.

The Dodgers are tied with the Red Sox for the best record in baseball beginning May 7, when Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball. A list of the Top-5 teams in that time:

Rank Team Record

T1. Los Angeles-NL 26-16

Boston 26-16

T3. New York-AL 25-18

Los Angeles-AL 25-18

5. Colorado 26-19

IN THE CLUTCH – The Dodgers are the only team in baseball to have four players batting at least .300 on the season. Currently, Juan Pierre (.329), Matt Kemp (.314), Orlando Hudson (.309), and Casey Blake (.300) are all hitting at .300 or better. Just as important, these four, along with James Loney, are leading the way with runners in scoring position:

DODGER AVERAGES WITH RISP – 2009

1. Juan Pierre .345

2. Matt Kemp .299

Casey Blake .299

4. James Loney .298

5. Orlando Hudson .292

White Sox impressed by Dodgers

When the White Sox last saw the Dodgers, they were sharing a brand new spring training complex in Glendale, Arizona.

Much has changed from then until now.

The Dodgers – without Manny Ramirez mind you – have rolled to the best record in baseball while the White Sox have stumbled to a 33-37 record, six games behind A.L. Central leading Detroit.

The two teams met last night in Chicago to start a three-game interleague series, and after a 5-2 Dodgers victory the White Sox were impressed.

”To me, the main thing about this Dodgers ballclub is they’re pretty good athletes,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. ”They have a great pitching staff, and they catch the ball. To me, that’s the reason they are where they are. Good pitching and good defense give you a chance to win as many games as you can, and they do that.”

Guillen added:

”They’re really balanced well,” Guillen said. ”They’re not really hitting homers because the team isn’t a home-run-hitting club. That’s why they’re relying on a lot of speed and a lot of defense and good pitching.”

The Dodgers were obviously ecstatic with what they saw from Hiroki Kuroda, who shut down the offensively challenged White Sox over 8 2/3 sharp innings and seems to be fully recovered from the strained oblique muscle he suffered after pitching opening day and sidelined him for nearly two months.

Offensively, it’s nice to see James Loney continue to keep up his recent power surge after blasting his third home run in his last four games.

More and more, this year seems to shaping up as one of those special seasons in which everything just seems to fall perfectly into place for a ballclub, even while dealing with injuries and adversity,

It’s incredible to think back to the first week of May when the Dodgers lost Manny to a 50-game suspension, and everyone held their breath wondering if they could hold on until their power-hitting left fielder returned at the beginning of July.

The Dodgers haven’t just flipped that script by rocking the best record in all of baseball, they’re now set up to welcome Manny back for the second half of the season as a vastly improved ballclub.

The return of Manny is like making a bold deadline trade to add one of the best hitters in the game, only without giving up a handful of prized prospects to make it happen.

Obviously there is a long way to go this year, and plenty could go wrong. But for now, things are going pretty well for the Dodgers.

Postgame: Dodgers 5, White Sox 2

The Dodgers beat the White Sox 5-2 tonight. For a full box and recap click here

The least you need to know: Hiroki Kuroda was superb while striking out a season-high nine without a walk over 8 2/3 innings to pick up his second win of the year. Kuroda allowed two runs, including a homer to former Dodger Paul Konerko in the second inning, but was otherwise brilliant.

Hitting stars: James Loney continued his recent power surge by hitting a two-run homer off John Danks. It was Loney’s fifth home run of the season and third in the past four games. Casey Blake added a two-run single in the eightheighth.

The Dodgers, now a season-high 23 games over .500, continue their three-game series against the White Sox tomorrow, with Randy Wolf opposing Gavin Floyd.