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Key to turning around Dodgers' offense could be return to form by Rafael Furcal

May 30, 2011 |  9:03 am

Rafael-furcal_600

OK, going out on a limb here, I'll say that the Dodgers' formula for turning their season around is not going to depend on collecting 17 hits and having their starting pitcher throw a two-hit shutout every game.

That was all swell Sunday, but figures to come around as often as Halley's comet.

But what can be taken away from Sunday as a small ray of hope was the play of shortstop Rafael Furcal.

He's been MIA for most of the season, either simply from his poor play early or because of his more recent struggles since returning from his broken thumb.

On Sunday, he was the old Furcal, going three for five with three RBIs and two runs.

"Spring training is over," Furcal said.

Furcal missed 37 games after breaking his left thumb. After a few days working out at Dodger Stadium, he went on a rehab assignment with triple-A Albuquerque. Team officials wanted him to get close to 30 at-bats at Albuquerque, but when infielder Juan Uribe was hurt, they called him up after just 16 at-bats.

Then he started his comeback by going one for 22.

"For me it's tough when you're losing like six weeks of the season, then you're not available to swing the bat," Furcal said. "Then take just three days and go to minor leagues, and play only four games and take 15 at-bats, and then come back. It's the big leagues; when you come to the big leagues, you have to be ready for it."

He wasn't early on, but is showing signs of it now. Sunday marked his second consecutive multi-hit game.

"He's our spark plug," said Matt Kemp. "We get him going, then we have a dangerous lineup. It's good to see him swing the bat well the way he has the last couple of days. It's a good sign for us. And we got Casey Blake back too.

"We're going to start putting up more runs when those guys all hit."

Furcal, 33, has five hits in his last nine at-bats, including a two-run homer Sunday.

As their leadoff hitter, there is probably no one whose return to form is more important to the Dodgers than Furcal. Which he clearly understands.

"When we lose the game by one or two runs, it's a very tough day for me," he said. "I cannot sleep, because I think we're losing because of me not getting on base."

That's a lot of lost sleep. His extended spring training over, he how hopes for more restful nights. The Dodgers do too.

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-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal is congratulated by pitcher Clayton Kershaw after hitting a two-run home run in the third inning against the Florida Marlins on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. Credit: Jeff Gross / Getty Images

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