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Time for Dodgers to make a statement -- if only to themselves

July 27, 2010 |  6:37 am
Like Elvis sang in that famous baseball tune, it’s now or never.

OK, so maybe never is a slight stretch, but it should be clear to the Dodgers that the time to step up is at hand. Time to seize that veritable moment. To discover who they really are.

Seven of their next 10 games are against the division-leading Padres, the other three against the second-place Giants.

An ideal time to make a move, to put it together. To become the team they think they are.

No more a little of this, a little of that. No more on a good roll, on a downward spiral. They believe they’re champions; they need to start playing with the consistency that makes champions.

"It’s time for us to put something together and make a statement," said Manager Joe Torre. "And not necessarily for anyone else. It’s making a statement for us.

"The only way we’re going to get our confidence to the point of expecting good things to happen, is to go out there and do it. We’re capable, and we’ve done it before."

Having done it before is swell, but that doesn’t get it done now. The Dodgers are seven games over .500, and that doesn’t get it done. It only puts them in position to get it done.

"We’re behind in the standings right now, but we all believe we know where we’re going to finish," said catcher Russell Martin.

The Dodgers have actually won four of their last five games, but their offense has been so unproductive it’s almost gone unnoticed. In those five games, they’ve scored only nine total runs.

"We’re just doing enough to win," said third baseman Casey Blake. "We can’t do that for too much longer."

The offense has several key players struggling and continues to be minus Manny Ramirez. This being his third stint on the disabled list, they’d better figure out how to score without him.

"Yeah, we’re missing a couple of pieces, but it doesn’t change what we can do with the ability we have," Torre said.

This would be an excellent time to do it. Like most everyone else, all season I’ve been waiting for the Padres to crash back to Earth. Yet here they are, at the end of July, with the best record in the National League.

As the games become more crucial, as the heat of the pennant race intensifies, an inexperienced team like the Padres is more likely to wilt.

Yet with their continued success comes increased confidence. The Dodgers need to chip away at the budding confidence over these next 10 days.

"I don’t think there’s a bad time to play these guys," Torre said. "I think it’s a time where we have to find out if we can respond to the challenge."

-- Steve Dilbeck