SF@LAD: Kemp discusses his return, game-saving catch

LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kemp was held out of the lineup Wednesday, as the Dodgers play it safe with the center fielder's right hamstring that kept him on the disabled list for nearly a month.

Kemp, who strained his hamstring May 29, was activated Tuesday and played all nine innings against the Giants. He went 1-for-4, scored from second base on a single and sprinted back to the warning track to haul in Marco Scutaro's line drive for the final out in a 6-5 victory.

Tuesday was Kemp's fourth straight game in the outfield, including three Minor League rehab games with Triple-A Albuquerque. The Dodgers want to ease Kemp back into action, like they did when Mark Ellis and Hanley Ramirez returned from DL stints.

"We're going to keep an eye on him and see how he's doing body-wise," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said before the series finale against San Francisco. "We're just trying to get him over the hump, not play him too many games in a row. It seemed to do good for Mark and it seemed to do good for Hanley."

Kemp said Tuesday he had to beg Mattingly to play. How did Kemp react Wednesday when the manager told him he wasn't starting?

"He looked at me funny," Mattingly said. "But he was good with it today. I was expecting worse. A lot of times you play at the Minor League level and it's not the same energy and it's not the same intensity. I'll bet you he's a little sore today."

Kemp was available off the bench Wednesday, and Mattingly said the former All-Star would likely start all four games of an upcoming series against the Phillies because the Dodgers are off Monday.

Van Slyke might return for weekend series

SD@LAD: Van Slyke swats solo homer to left in seventh

LOS ANGELES -- Scott Van Slyke could return from the disabled list during an upcoming four-game series against the Phillies, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday.

Van Slyke continued his Minor League rehab assignment Wednesday and played seven innings in left field, going 1-for-4 with Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga. He had been rehabbing with Triple-A Albuquerque, but returned to Los Angeles on Tuesday to be evaluated by the Dodgers medical staff. Van Slyke has been on the DL since June 11 with left shoulder bursitis.

Mattingly said Van Slyke would play in another rehab game with Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday. He could then be activated Friday, when the Dodgers face Philadelphia left-hander John Lannan. Another lefty, Cliff Lee, is scheduled to start for the Phillies on Saturday.

"With Scott, he allows us to go all right-handed [in the outfield] if we want to against a tough lefty," Mattingly said.

In addition to facing left-handers, Mattingly said he envisions using Van Slyke off the bench and occasionally at first base to spell Adrian Gonzalez.

Van Slyke hit .221 with six homers and 11 RBIs in 24 games before his injury.

Dodgers to ease pressure on struggling League

LAD@PIT: League slams the door in the 11th inning

LOS ANGELES -- Brandon League began the season as the Dodgers' closer, but after his latest rough outing, manager Don Mattingly said he would try to avoid using League in high-leverage situations.

League came on in the ninth inning Tuesday with the Dodgers leading the Giants, 6-3. But he allowed hits to all three batters he faced as San Francisco scored twice to make it 6-5. Closer Kenley Jansen was unavailable after pitching three straight games, so the Dodgers turned to League, who didn't record an out as his ERA rose to 5.72.

"We're going to try to get him back and start piecing him back together," Mattingly said Wednesday. "We're going to put him in some situations that are a little less stressful. He was our closer at the beginning of the year. We know he's got the stuff."

Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt and bullpen coach Chuck Crim watched video with League on Wednesday afternoon, trying to diagnose the source of the right-hander's troubles.

"Mechanically, they're showing him some things that he was able to do last year that is not the same this year," Mattingly said. "Hopefully, he can put some positive outings together and get some confidence back."

As for the rest of the bullpen, Mattingly said he's leaning toward using Ronald Belisario as the setup man, while mixing and matching relievers in the seventh inning based on matchups.

"Honestly, the bullpen has been a fairly big issue this year as far as consistency," Mattingly said.