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Category: Reed Johnson

Scratch a pair of right-handed bats off Dodgers' radar for left field: Reed Johnson and ... Manny Ramirez

A right-handed bat to play in left field remains the great void in the Dodgers’ starting lineup -- OK, other than adding an impact bat -- but you can scratch a pair of familiar names off their free-agent list.

Reed Johnson signed with the Cubs
on Wednesday, and Manager Don Mattingly said Manny Ramirez was not a viable option. Sorry, dreadlocks lovers.

Johnson was a reserve outfielder for the Dodgers last season, appearing in 102 games but having a marginal impact on their season. In 202 at-bats, he hit .262 with 24 runs, 15 runs batted in and a disappointing, career-low .291 on-base percentage.

Before joining the Dodgers, Johnson, 34, spent the previous two seasons with the Cubs and was something of a fan favorite.

He signed a minor league deal with the Cubs that does not include any guaranteed money. He is expected to compete with Fernando Perez, whom the Cubs recently acquired from Tampa Bay, for Chicago’s reserve outfield position.

At a camp workout for a select group of minor leaguers at Dodger Stadium, Mattingly put an end to any hopes that the Dodgers might re-sign Manny to fill the hole in left.

When first asked about the possibility of signing Manny, Mattingly said: "Do I have to answer that?"

Pushed ever so gently, Mattingly said: "I don’t think Manny is a viable option right now."

Manny was released by the Dodgers and claimed on waivers by the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 30.

He remains unsigned and is looking for a job as a designated hitter. He was never a strong defensive outfielder, but last season he struggled with leg injuries and had three stints on the disabled list.

If his power waned at age 38, he could still drive the ball. He hit .311 with eight home runs, 40 RBIs, a .405 on-base percentage and a .510 slugging percentage in 196 at-bats as a Dodger. With the White Sox, however, he seriously bombed (one home run, two RBIs in 69 at-bats).

Mattingly said he if started spring training today, he would look at Jay Gibbons and Xavier Paul (both left-handed hitters) in left field, with the possibility of giving right-handed third baseman Casey Blake some time there.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers rally from five runs down, stun Rockies on A.J. Ellis single in the 11th, 7-6


And then, a moment from those glorious days of yesteryear. When George Sherrill was clutch, Matt Kemp electric and the Dodgers typically rallied for dramatic victories.

The Dodgers got it all Sunday in the biggest comeback of their disappointing season, rallying from an early five-run deficit to stun the Rockies, 7-6, on A.J. Ellis’ game-winning single over a drawn-in infield in the 11th inning.

The Rockies had threatened to take the lead in the top of the inning when Jonathan Broxton faltered and loaded the bases with two outs.

But Manager Joe Torre called on Sherrill -- last season’s left-handed stopper who has struggled this season -- and he responded by striking out Carlos Gonzalez, the league’s leading hitter.

Despite the victory, the Dodgers’ magic number to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs fell to two with the Giants’ victory Sunday. The National League West is off Monday, meaning if the Dodgers lose and the Giants win Tuesday, the Dodgers will be eliminated.

The Rockies were down to their ninth pitcher of the day, Manny Delcarmen, in the 11th.

Reed Johnson opened the Dodgers’ half of the inning with a single. Rafael Furcal then bounced to second to force Johnson, but was ruled safe on the throw to first by Troy Tulowitzki. Replays indicated Furcal was out.

Kemp, who had already homered and doubled in the game-tying run in the ninth, then singled Furcal to third. The Rockies intentionally walked Andre Ethier to load the bases and bring up Ellis.

Ellis lined his hit just over Tulowitzki at short for the walk-off hit.

The last time the Dodgers overcame a five-run deficit was June 2, 2009, when they rallied to beat the Diamondbacks, 6-5.

The Dodgers might not have needed the dramatics if not for the unexpected struggles Sunday of Clayton Kershaw.

Kershaw was coming off his first career shutout, was 3-0 with a 1.04 earned-run average against the Rockies this season and had thrown 29 consecutive scoreless innings against Colorado at Dodger Stadium.


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Clayton Kershaw brings the pain, earns first shutout as Dodgers win 1-0 despite managing one hit

It was the closest thing to a playoff atmosphere the Dodgers are going to experience this season.

The Giants and their fans are always up for the Dodgers anyway, but here came the middle of September and the Giants trying to chase down the Padres in the National League West.

On a cool Tuesday night at AT&T Park, the Dodgers couldn’t respond at the plate but received a starting effort from Clayton Kershaw the Giants are likely to remember a while. Or be haunted by.

Kershaw was simply brilliant, shutting out the Giants on four hits and beating hard-luck Barry Zito when the Dodgers scored the game’s only run on an error to escape the tense night with a 1-0 victory -- despite managing only one hit.

Kershaw, 22, rose to the occasion, throwing the first shutout of his three-year career. Kershaw (12-10) wasn’t in his overpowering mode -- he only struck out four -- but he was economical. He did not walk a batter and allowed only one runner to advance to second.

The loss dropped the Giants 1½ games back of the Padres. It was the second time this season the Giants lost a game in which they allowed only one hit -- the other coming against the Padres.

Zito allowed the one hit in his 5 2/3 innings and stuck out five. Yet there is little Zito can seem to do right these days.

Tuesday marked his ninth consecutive loss and 12th consecutive start without a victory. His last win came back on July 16.

He seemed firmly in control of the scoreless game in the sixth when he hit Reed Johnson with one out. Kershaw’s bunt sacrificed Reed to second.

Zito needed one last out to get out of the inning, but it proved elusive. With first base open, he pitched carefully to Rafael Furcal and walked him. But then he walked Andre Ethier to load the bases.

Giants Manager Bruce Bochy elected to leave Zito in the game, and it should have worked.

Casey Blake bounced one up the middle to shortstop Juan Uribe. And that ball screamed third out. Only Uribe, who killed the Dodgers when the Giants were last at Dodger Stadium, dropped the ball.

He threw late to second for the force and everyone was safe, as Johnson crossed the plate. The Dodgers had scored the game’s only run on a hit batter, two walks and an error.

That ended the night for Zito (8-13). Santiago Casilla came on to strike out Matt Kemp -- who had the only hit against Zito -- and end the inning.

The Dodgers, though, had a mighty run and Kershaw on the mound.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers can't say they never catch a break after 6-3 victory over Astros

Torre_300 When a team is mired in losing, everything on the planet can feel like it’s aligned against them. Bad bounces, bloop hits, missed calls, managerial moves, pregame food.

The Dodgers, of course, know all about losing this season. Losing in every which kind of way.

But they can no longer claim the breaks always go against them. Not after Saturday night in Houston. Not after the Astros handed them the game with three bizarre runs in the ninth.

The Dodgers happily accepted the gifts and went on to a 6-3 victory, leaving the Astros to curse the fates. Or at least some really bad defense.

The game was tied 3-3 in the ninth when pinch-hitter Trent Oeltjen drew a leadoff walk from closer Brandon Lyon. Such an innocent beginning.

Reed Johnson’s sacrifice bunt rolled up the first-base line. First baseman Brett Wallace watched the ball start to roll foul, but scooped it up while it was still on the line. And Johnson was safe at first.

A.J. Ellis then bunted to the left of the mound, Lyon fielded it and threw it to Galveston. Both Oeltjen and Johnson scored, and Ellis ended up at third.

The Dodgers had two runs and hadn’t hit the ball more than 15 feet.

Tim Byrdak took over for Lyon, and pinch-hitter James Loney greeted him with a run-scoring double.

Hong-Chih Kuo came on to finish it off in the bottom of the ninth and earn his ninth save.

Things started off promisingly enough for the Dodgers.

Well, except for perhaps that first-inning ejection of manager Joe Torre. He was apparently tossed by homeplate umpire Paul Emmel for complaining about a called third strike on Casey Blake.

Which turned the team over to Don Mattingly, all refreshed on that one-visit-to-the-mound rule.

Right-hander John Ely -- making his first starter since July 10 -- early on more resembled the pitcher the Dodgers saw in his first seven starts (3-2, 2.54 ERA), and less the one seen in his next seven (1-5, 7.49).

And as an added bonus, the Dodgers showed some actual signs of offense.

They scored three times in the fourth against Wandy Rodriquez, starting with Blake’s leadoff home run. It was his 15th home run of the season.

Jay Gibbons then bounced a hit up the middle, advanced to second on a groundout by John Lindsey -- making his first major-league start -- and scored on a single by Johnson.

Johnson took second on a delayed steal and scored on a basehit by Ellis to leave the Dodgers up 3-0.

The Astros got one back in the bottom of the inning when Michael Bourn hit another ball into that coffin corner in left-center that has been giving Gibbons nightmares the past two nights.

Gibbons couldn’t come down with the drive that bounced off the wall and toward center-fielder Matt Kemp. Bourn rounded second but stumbled and fell. It ended up not mattering, however, because Kemp suffered one of his defensive brain cramps, holding the ball … and holding it … and holding it, as Bourn got to his feet and ran to third ahead of Kemp’s belated throw.

Jeff Keppinger’s single up the middle scored Bourn for Houston’s first run.

The Astros got two more to tie it in the fifth. Wallace led off with a solo home run. Angel Sanchez and Jason Castro singled, Rodriquez’ sacrifice bunt advanced the runners and Sanchez scored on Bourn’s groundout to third.

Ely left after throwing six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and one walk. He struck out four.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers Manager Joe Torre argues with home plate umpire Paul Emmel after Emmel tossed him from Saturday's game. Credit: Pat Sullivan / Associated Press

Dodgers lose 10-5 to fall 6 1/2 back in wild-card race; Manny Ramirez pinch hits but ejected after one pitch

Dodgers1_300 To those burning Dodgers’ questions of the moment -- Will Manny Ramirez stay or will he go? Will he play or will he sit? -- now they can add a new one:

Can he stay in the game?

Ramirez, inexplicably benched for the fourth consecutive game Sunday, pinch-hit in the sixth inning, took one pitch called a strike, complained and was quickly ejected.

And that was your Manny Ramirez for the day.

Somehow symbolic for the Dodgers’ ultimately futile effort in a disheartening 10-5 loss to the Rockies.

After wining four consecutive games to give belated life to their playoff hopes, the Dodgers have now lost consecutive games and fallen 6½ back of the Phillies in the National League wild-card race.

The Dodgers open a key three-game series at Dodger Stadium against the Phillies on Monday.

The Dodgers could do precious little with Colorado right-hander Jason Hammel, who had boasted a 6.31 earned-run average in his last 12 starts.

Meanwhile, left-hander Ted Lilly ran out of Dodgers’ pixie dust.

Lilly was 5-0 in five starts with the Dodgers, but lasted only four innings Sunday.

He gave up seven runs on nine hits -- including two doubles, two triples and two home runs. He walked only one, however, and struck out eight.

All while the Dodgers were specializing on missing out on scoring chances.

In the fourth inning, they had runners on the corners with no outs and failed to score.

After scoring one run in the fifth on Jay Gibbons’ double, they loaded the bases with no outs but Andre Ethier failed to put the ball in play with one of his four strikeouts on the day.

And then in the sixth, after scoring once on doubles by Matt Kemp and James Loney, they loaded the bases with one out and called on Ramirez.

It was what you might call a quick at-bat. He took a first pitch that appeared outside that home-plate umpire Gary Cederstrom called a strike.

Manny, who almost never argues balls and strikes, turned to Cederstrom, complained about the call and was immediately ejected.

Manny argued a bit more before walking off, his day down to one pitch. Worse, Reed Johnson then hit for Ramirez and grounded into a double play.

Colorado outfielder Carlos Gonzalez got a little more for his money, continuing to kill L.A. pitching. Gonzalez went three for four, including two home runs, scored twice and drove in three runs.

The Dodgers did score three times against the Colorado bullpen in the eighth, one on a Ronnie Belliard single and two on a Ryan Theriot hit. Either struck out again, and after a Kemp infield single loaded the bases, Loney grounded out.

They had won 10 consecutive series against the Rockies until dropping two of three over the weekend.

--Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers pinch-hitter Manny Ramirez has some final words for home-plate umpire Gary Cederstrom after getting ejected in the sixth inning Sunday. Credit: Andrew Carpenean / US Presswire

Dodgers claim they're still buyers, but is a comeback actually possible?

OK, close your eyes hard and just for a moment imagine the Dodgers coming back. I said close your eyes. Now try harder.

Here's the question the Dodgers have to ask: Can it still happen?

Well, sure. It's happened before. It is exceedingly rare, but it's happened. It could happen now, too.

This would require, of course, that the Dodgers believe it can. That they still have fight left, which they claim to possess.

"I think so," said outfielder Reed Johnson. "You can feel it in the dugout before the game. Guys definitely haven't rolled over."

The Dodgers won Thursday on Johnson's first home run of the season. Probably not the template for a great stretch run.

Still, they have to find ways to win, and different people have to be able to contribute. Yet despite the Ted Lilly shutout, the Dodgers remained 12 games back of the Padres in the National League West.

That is a serious amount of games to overcome when the calendar reads Aug. 20.

"There's still a lot of excitement in this dugout, we just can't strike the match," said manager Joe Torre. "We can’t get anything going at this point."

If they do, there's no guarantee the Padres come back to them or the four teams ahead of them for the wild card will disappear.

For now, though, the Dodgers march on, believing they can still find the magic. Torre said despite the standings, the Dodgers are making no plans to become sellers at the Aug. 31 trading deadline for players who have cleared waivers.

"We're not talking that way now," he said. "We're obviously feeling the squeeze at this point and time, because we're running out of games. But we're not thinking in terms of jumping ship."

Falling further back might yet alter their thinking, but for now the Dodgers can take comfort in the knowledge of some great comebacks in the past:

-- The 1964 St. Louis Cardinals were 11 games back on Aug. 23, and with the Phillies' infamous collapse, went 27-11 down the stretch. They came back to win the pennant and the World Series.

-- In 1969, the Amazin' Mets were 10 games out on Aug. 13, finished 38-11 and went onto win it all.

-- The 1978 Yankees were nine back on Aug. 13, finished 38-11 and captured the World Series.

-- As the Angels could tell you, they were up on the 1995 Mariners by 11½ games on Aug. 24. It was some collapse by the Angels, but the Mariners did finish 25-11 to capture the division.

So, see, it's not impossible. Not completely.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers' new ace, Ted Lilly, too much for Rockies in 2-0 shutout

So apparently, while no one was looking, the Dodgers did go out and pick up an ace before the trading deadline.

A lights-out, bar-the-doors, you-don’t-have-a-prayer ace.

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting Ted Lilly.

Yep, the guy who was 3-8 in 18 starts for the Chicago Cubs is now 4-0 in four starts for the Dodgers. Imagine the Cubs’ surprise.

He was at it again Thursday night, pitching a masterful complete game, shutting out the Colorado Rockies on two hits in the Dodgers’ 2-0 victory.

With Reed Johnson providing the entire game’s offense with a two-run homer in the second inning, the rest was left to Lilly (7-8 overall).

Lilly gave up a first-inning double and a seventh-inning single, and otherwise completely dominated the Rockies.

He struck out a season-high 11 and walked two. As a Dodger, he lowered his earned-run average to 1.29. It was his third career shutout.

Things could have started much differently for the Dodgers and Lilly.

In the very first inning, Dexter Fowler drilled a hit down the third base line that ricocheted off the rolled-up tarp for a double. Ryan Spilborghs hit a sinking liner to left, but Scott Podsednik made a nice diving catch to steal a hit and save a run.

And Lilly was on his way to retiring 19 consecutive hitters. Which is getting to be something of a habit for him. In his first start as a Dodger, he retired his last 20 Padres.

The Dodgers’ offensive outburst was quick and brief.

Casey Blake walked with one out and Johnson lined his first home run of the season out to left.

Just like that, it was 2-0. And that’s how it would stay.

The Dodgers missed out on a couple of good scoring opportunities against left-hander Jorge De La Rosa.

They led off the bottom of the sixth with a single by Podsednik and a double by Ryan Theriot. With runners at second and third and no outs, Matt Kemp and James Loney grounded out. After an intentional walk to Blake loaded the bases, Johnson bounced into a fielder’s choice.

Then in the seventh, a walk to Jamey Carroll and an error by Spilborghs on a Brad Ausmus fly gave the Dodgers runners at  first and second with no outs. Lilly popped up trying to bunt and Podsednik bounced into a double play.

De La Rosa (4-4) went seven innings, allowing his two runs on five hits and four walks. He struck out three.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Dodgers fall deeper into the abyss with 3-2 loss to Rockies in 10 innings

And down they go, sinking lower by the day. Pretty soon the Dodgers will be so small, you'll need a magnifying glass to find them. They'll probably talk with little squeaky voices.

A flat, listless-looking Dodgers squad lost again on a hot Wednesday night, falling, 3-2, in 10 innings to the Rockies.

The loss dropped them still deeper in the standings, a season-high 12 games behind the Padres in the National League West and eight games behind the Phillies for the wild card.

This time, it was reliever Octavio Dotel’s turn to blow a game.

Dotel provided the Rockies’ winning run on three walks (one intentional) and three wild pitches in the 10th. Just to show you what kind of year it’s been for the Dodgers, Dotel had thrown two previous wild pitches all year.

The Dodgers had a chance to tie the score in the bottom of the 10th when Reed Johnson singled and tried to score on a hit by Scott Podsednik, but he was thrown out at the plate to end the game. Somehow, a fitting ending.

The Dodgers had opened the scoring with a run in the first.

Podsednik, who has hit safely in 32 of his last 35 games, started the Dodgers’ half of the inning with a single to left.

As Manager Joe Torre continues to go more to small ball to try to generate badly needed offense, Ryan Theriot then bunted Podsednik to second.

Right-hander Jason Hammel, who had thrown seven wild pitches in his previous 130 1/3 innings, then threw a wild pitch that allowed Podsednik to go to third and another that allowed him to score.

The Rockies got that run back in the second against Hiroki Kuroda when singles by Seth Smith and Ian Stewart put runners on first and third. Miguel Olivo lifted a blooper to left that Jay Gibbons charged and dove for, but the ball bounced off his glove for a double that drove in Smith.

The Dodgers regained the lead in the bottom of the inning on a single by Casey Blake and Jamey Carroll's run-scoring double.

Colorado made it 2-2 in the fourth. Smith walked, took third on a one-out single by Stewart and scored on a groundout by Olivo.

Hammel settled down after the second. He went six innings, giving up two runs on four hits, four walks and the two wild pitches. He struck out four.

The Rockies, however, suffered a loss of another kind. The Rockies have been more hampered by injuries this season than even the Dodgers, and in the sixth inning they lost their best offensive player.

James Loney singled with two out before Blake lined a drive to the wall in right. Carlos Gonzalez made an excellent running catch just before crashing into the wall. He held onto the ball but collapsed on the warning track and remained down for several minutes.

He walked off the field but did not return to the game. The Rockies said he suffered a right knee bruise.

Kuroda went seven innings for the Dodgers, giving up two runs on six hits and one walk with seven strikeouts.

-- Steve Dilbeck

It's becoming a season theme: Dodgers lose 4-3 when Braves score three times in ninth


It’s true, the Dodgers can invent new ways to lose. Painful, rip-out-the-heart ways. Ways to make the life of their 2010 season grow all the more dimmer.

It happened again, somehow, incredibly, on Monday night in Atlanta when the Dodgers were seemingly on their way to victory, only for everything to come crashing down, their old nightmare replaced by their new nightmare.

The Dodgers took a two-run lead into the ninth, and then the Braves scored three times and escaped with a 4-3 victory.

Hong-Chih Kuo was unable to pull off a two-inning save, loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning after pitching a 1-2-3 eighth.

Manager Joe Torre then called on Octavio Dotel to finish it off. He did, too, just not the way Torre had hoped.

Dotel walked David Ross to force in one run and then gave up a bouncing two-run single to Melky Cabrera as the Braves celebrated their come-from-behind win and the Dodgers looked on once again in disbelief.

The offensively challenged Dodgers scored their three runs without the benefit of a single hit with runners in scoring position. That left them 0 for 21 in that department in this four-game series.

The Dodgers scored twice in the eighth off Jonny Venters to take the lead, thanks to some defensive struggles by third baseman Brooks Conrad.

Pinch-hitter Reed Johnson opened the inning by drilling a one-hopper that took a wicked bounce off Conrad. Originally ruled an error, it was later changed to a hit.

Scott Podsednik drew a walk before Ryan Theriot hit a little bouncer toward Conrad, who charged and threw on the run. The throw sailed past Troy Glaus at first base for an error as Johnson scored.

Right fielder Jason Heyward had the wet ball ricochet off him in the corner, and Podsednik, who had stopped at third, came home. Heyward was not charged with an error, but could have been.

The Dodgers had opened the scoring with a run off Tommy Hanson in the first on a Theriot infield single and Andre Ethier double.

They handed the 1-0 lead to starter Chad Billingsley, who sported a 1.32 earned-run average in his last five starts, and told him to make it work. In a downpour, he acted like it was no problem. The guy must love rain.

He shut out the Braves for five innings, at which point it looked like the game might be called for rain and the Dodgers would escape with a 1-0 victory.

Instead, they spread some more dry dirt around the infield and sent the teams back out for more.

Which worked out for the Braves. Omar Infante led off the bottom of the sixth with his first triple of the season and Heyward lined a shot to right that almost screamed home run.

Only it lost steam in the rain and then Ethier made an outstanding running, leaping catch at the wall.

Infante tagged to tie the score, but Ethier took away an extra-base hit from Heyward. Ethier and the rain, anyway.

Billingsley went seven strong innings for the Dodgers. He gave up his one run on five hits and a walk, striking out eight.

The way things are going for the Dodgers, mired in fourth place in the NL West right now, seven strong is not going to be enough.

-- Steve Dilbeck

Photo: Dodgers second baseman Ryan Theriot is tagged out by Braves catcher Brian McCann in the eighth inning when trying to score on a fly ball by James Loney. Credit: Curtis Compton / McClatchy-Tribune.

Dodgers fall nine games back as losing streak hits six with 10-5 loss to Padres

Gloom felt omnipresent, on the bases, at the plate and, on this night, even on the mound.

There was no real news to come from the Dodgers on Monday, only more failed repetition. More questions lacking answers, more blank stares.

The Dodgers fell deeper into their hole, the light growing still dimmer after they suffered their sixth consecutive loss, falling 10-5 to the Padres.

The loss dropped the Dodgers to a season-high nine games back of the Padres in the National League West.

Even on a night when the offense showed signs of life, too often Dodgers had trouble getting out of their own way. The defense committed two errors. Matt Kemp had a career-high five hits but another base-running blunder. And the pitching, the one thing that had been solid even during the skid, crumbled.

The Dodgers collected 14 hits, their most in a game since July 3, and they weren't even close to earning their first victory in six games.

The Dodgers managed seven hits in the first three innings alone -- yet failed to score.

In the first, the Dodgers got two-out singles from Kemp and James Loney. Casey Blake followed with a sharp single to center, and Kemp rounded third and headed home for what should have been an easy run.

Only Loney tried to go from first to third on the hit and just was tagged for the third out … before Kemp, running at something much less than full speed, was able to cross the plate.

Earlier this season, the Dodgers lost 2-1 to the Angels in Anaheim when Russell Martin took too wide a turn at second and was tagged out before Reed Johnson touched the plate. Earlier in that inning, Kemp had been picked off second by Brian Fuentes.

The game remained scoreless until the Padres broke through with four runs against Hiroki Kuroda (8-10) in the fourth. Will Venable, hitting .229, broke the scoreless affair by powering a three-run homer.

And that should have been the end of the Padres scoring in the inning, but after a Chris Denoria single, San Diego starter Clayton Richard (9-5) bunted a sacrifice in front of the plate.

Martin fielded it and elected to fire to second, but the throw was off for an error. Miguel Tejada blooped a two-run single to center, and the Padres led 5-0.

The Dodgers got two runs on singles by pinch-hitter Ronnie Belliard and Kemp in the bottom of the inning, but the Padres got both back against suddenly struggling Jeff Weaver.

Chase Headley added a three-run homer against Weaver in the sixth, and it was 10-2 Padres. And the night was looking just a tad too familiar to the Dodgers.

Not the two runs the Dodgers added in the sixth, not Kemp’s 18th home run of the season in the eighth were going to ease the gloom of another loss.

-- Steve Dilbeck

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