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After slow September, Dodgers heat back up

L.A. had 14 callups on roster during final month of regular season
MLB.com @kengurnick

LOS ANGELES -- The team with the best record in baseball doesn't like being reminded about losing 16 of 17 games during a stretch in September, nor do the Dodgers buy in to the observation that they've suddenly flipped the switch to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile.

"You've got to see it, you've got to realize the playoff lineup wasn't out there," closer Kenley Jansen said after securing a five-out save in an 8-5 Game 2 win on Saturday night. "They were resting guys. It's for you guys to make it a dramatic thing that we lost 16 of 17. We know we're good."

Full Game Coverage

LOS ANGELES -- The team with the best record in baseball doesn't like being reminded about losing 16 of 17 games during a stretch in September, nor do the Dodgers buy in to the observation that they've suddenly flipped the switch to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five National League Division Series presented by T-Mobile.

"You've got to see it, you've got to realize the playoff lineup wasn't out there," closer Kenley Jansen said after securing a five-out save in an 8-5 Game 2 win on Saturday night. "They were resting guys. It's for you guys to make it a dramatic thing that we lost 16 of 17. We know we're good."

Full Game Coverage

:: NLDS schedule and coverage ::

The Dodgers took the unusual step of filling the clubhouse with 14 callups in September. They were holding auditions for postseason roles, even bringing up pinch-runner Tim Locastro, who hadn't played in three weeks and was home painting his parents' basement when he got the callup.

It was all part of the Dodgers' plan to take advantage of their 21-game lead in the NL West, and even if the plan didn't envision that lead being sliced to 10 games by the end, manager Dave Roberts bristled at the suggestion that the Dodgers went into an early shutdown mode and fired up the afterburners when October rolled around.

"No, there is definitely no switch," Roberts said. "I think that before, in the middle of September, I thought that we started playing better baseball and winning eight out of 10, I think that helped. Guys are healthy, and the focus is certainly heightened.

"But we've been waiting for this moment for a long time. So our guys are prepared. A lot of guys have been here in this moment. And now, we've got to go out there and play, and we're doing a pretty good job of that."

Game 2 starter Rich Hill, one of the veterans who spoke in Thursday night's pregame meeting on the mound, echoed his manager's message about unfinished business, especially for team members that lost the NL Championship Series in Chicago last year.

"You just see the quality swings, the patient at-bats," Hill said after the Dodgers finally beat nemesis Robbie Ray. "We've taken advantage of the eagerness of the other pitchers to overthrow some of the pitches, and we've stayed in some at-bats. The quality of swings have been heightened due to the environment. It's something everybody in this room has been waiting for to get to this point."

Video: Must C Clutch: Dodgers surge with four-run 5th

The Nos. 6, 7 and 8 batters in the Dodgers' order -- Logan Forsythe, Austin Barnes and Yasiel Puig -- went a combined 8-for-12 with five RBIs and five runs scored.

The only early area of concern is rookie Cody Bellinger, who struck out four times in Game 2 and is 1-for-10 with six strikeouts in the series.

"Cody will get on track," Roberts said. "He's got to stay down a little bit, stay in the strike zone. Corey [Seager] still got on base a couple times, had a nice one last night. But we've got a lot of guys that can hurt you."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Los Angeles Dodgers