HOUSTON -- In his final season in the Majors, former Astros catcher and current Dodgers backup Brad Ausmus is making his final trip to Minute Maid Park, where he played from 1997-98 and 2001-07.
"It's always a little strange coming to Minute Maid Park and going to the visitors' clubhouse," said Ausmus, who helped the Astros reach the World Series in 2005. "It was strange last year -- it was strange this year. This will be the last time I'm probably here, so I'm enjoying it."
Ausmus met with former teammate and close friend Jeff Bagwell, now the Astros' hitting coach, before Thursday's game. Only a handful of players remain with the Astros from the 2008 team after July trades of pitcher Roy Oswalt and first baseman Lance Berkman.
The current Astros who were teammates of Ausmus in Houston are infielder Geoff Blum, outfielder/first baseman Carlos Lee, catcher Humberto Quintero and pitcher Wandy Rodriguez.
At Minute Maid Park, Ausmus played on three Astros teams that reached the playoffs (2001, '04 and '05).
"My best years in a uniform happened in Houston," said Ausmus. "But right now, I'm in a Dodgers uniform and I'm trying to beat the Astros."
At long last, Dodgers' Lindsey gets MLB at-bat
HOUSTON -- This time, the Dodgers' John Lindsey got his at-bat in the Major Leagues on Thursday.
Lindsey made his Major League debut on Wednesday at San Diego after 16 years and 1,571 games in the Minors but didn't get to the plate. After pinch-hitting for Scott Podsednik, Dodgers manager Joe Torre replaced the right-handed-hitting Lindsey with pinch-hitter Andre Ethier.
On Thursday, Lindsey, 33, led off the top of the seventh inning as a pinch-hitter and remained the pinch-hitter for Dodgers starter Ted Lilly, the losing pitcher in the Dodgers' 3-2 defeat against the Astros. The first pitch he saw from Astros left-handed reliever Gustavo Chacin was a ball. He fouled off the second pitch before flying out to right-center on the third pitch.
"I got a little antsy on deck," said a joyous Lindsey, who is expected to be in the starting lineup on Saturday against Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez. "But I tried to take deep breaths and keep my heart rate down. But when I got in the batter's box, it was just like normal. This is what you do."
Lindsey had family from Mississippi attend the game, including his 3-year-old son. Lindsey left 13 tickets for relatives and friends.
"It's an awesome feeling," Lindsey said. "My little boy getting to see his dad out there."
Chacin's final pitch to Lindsey was a fastball.
"It was a good one to hit, and I just got under it just a little," Lindsey said.
Torre wants Dodgers to work on mental focus
HOUSTON -- Should Joe Torre return for a fourth season as Dodgers manager in 2011, he said on Thursday that a lot of work will have to be done in the offseason concerning the players' mind-set.
"The offseason is going to busy," said Torre, who said the club will rely heavily on first baseman James Loney and outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. "These guys are very talented. They are going to be the core of this ballclub, and we've got to figure out what happened this year and how to get it better -- the inconsistency.
"It's not unusual for young players to be inconsistent. But we have to make sure we cover all the bases on doing something before we hit Spring Training."
Torre wants all the players to work on the mental side of the game and be in the right frame of mind next spring.
Hitting woes have played a part in the Dodgers' five-game losing streak. The Dodgers have been shut out a Major League-leading 16 times this season, the most since being blanked 17 times in 1989.
"When we left Spring Training, I had no doubt we were going to score runs," said Torre. "Scoring runs wasn't going to be an issue. Right now, it's nonexistent. Granted, we lost Manny [Ramirez].
"It's always dangerous to count on young players. Not that they're not good and not that they're not going to be good, but the consistency of it is something you can't always predict. That's why I've always cautioned about [Clayton] Kershaw. Every time he walks three guys in the first inning or throws 30 pitches in the first inning, you have to remind yourself he's 23 years old. He's been terrific. He's not afraid of responsibility, but he's unpredictable until you get some seasons under your belt."
Dodgers send out parade of pinch-hitters
HOUSTON -- The Dodgers used five straight pinch-hitters in the eighth inning on Wednesday, and they didn't score that inning or any other inning in the 4-0 loss at San Diego.
"Somebody told me we were one away or tied the [Major League] record," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "I think [Dodgers bench coach Bob] Schaefer told me. I said, 'You should have told me.' We would have done that.
"For sure it's a Joe Torre record, especially when you're managing mostly in the American League with the DH and you don't have to deal with pinch-hitting for the pitcher."
Dodgers first baseman John Lindsey made his Major League debut on Wednesday after 16 years in the Minors, but did not get a plate appearance. Lindsey was pinch-hitting for Scott Podsednik. But Torre replaced Lindsey with pinch-hitter Andre Ethier when Padres manager Bud Black brought in a right-handed pitcher.
Torre gave Lindsey the lineup card for the game to show that Lindsey did play.
"If this was the last game of the season, I would have felt bad," said Torre. "I handed him the lineup card after the game, and I said, 'John you didn't get an at-bat, but you're in the game, and they would rather pitch to Ethier than you.'"
Mitchell eager to make impression on LA
HOUSTON -- Russ Mitchell made his Major League debut on Wednesday at San Diego playing first base for the Dodgers. On Thursday in Houston, he was starting at third base.
Mitchell, who went 0-for-2 in his debut, had his contract purchased from Triple-A Albuquerque, where he hit .315 with 23 home runs and 87 RBIs in 127 games.
"I'm looking at it as doing my best while I'm here and to prove to them that I can play at this level," said Mitchell.
Mitchell is 25 years old and wants to make a good impression now.
"I'm still young, but it's getting to that time where I need to make a statement about what I can do," Mitchell said. "I feel I can play the game. It's about calming the nerves and relaxing. [Wednesday] helped out big -- to actually get on the field and play."
Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.