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10/02/09 9:02 PM EST

Blake returns to Dodgers' lineup

Third baseman missed eight games with tight hamstring

LOS ANGELES -- After missing eight games because of a left hamstring strain, Casey Blake was back in the Dodgers' lineup on Friday night for the first game of a three-game set against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium.

The start was Blake's first since Sept. 22 at Washington when he went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs.

Blake said before Friday's game that he came into the stadium on Thursday and was able to run without any discomfort. He took ground balls in San Diego and said that he's able to go through the motions defensively required at third base.

Blake's reinsertion into the Dodgers' lineup comes at a good time for the club. With only three games remaining on the schedule before the playoffs, Blake is running out of opportunities to get his swing back in form.

"I think it's fairly important, probably not as important as maybe to start the season," Blake said of his weekend tuneup.

"I have a lot of games, a lot of at-bats under my belt. Hopefully, my swing hasn't gone too far or my timing. It'll be nice to get some at-bats this weekend."

Blake said that there isn't a magic number of trips to the plate he needs before the playoffs start.

"It's just an approach thing," Blake said. "It might take a couple of at-bats."

The last time Blake came back from an extended period on the bench, though, it didn't take long for him to get back into a groove.

After missing five games from Sept. 5-9 because of a tight left hamstring, Blake went 2-for-4 with a home run on Sept. 11 against the Giants and proceeded to hit safely in six consecutive games.

"That was kind of a fluke," Blake said. "When I came back last time I ran into a 2-0 fastball and that kind of got my confidence back. It would be nice if that happened again."

In other injury news, Dodgers manager Joe Torre said Ronnie Belliard might pinch-hit Saturday against the Rockies.

Belliard suffered a slight strain of the left groin on Sunday against the Pirates and hasn't played since.

"I'm not sure he'll be a player this weekend, but I'm pretty confident he'll be ready when we start the postseason," Torre said.

Belliard is batting .342 (26-for-76) with five home runs and 16 RBIs in 23 games (19 starts) since he joined the Dodgers on Aug. 30.

David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.